This weekend I will be performing my first wedding ceremony. As a result, I’ve got marriage on the brain a bit and thought it’d be the perfect time to write out some thoughts and observations I have on marriage. Having only been married for a few years my experience is minimal, but 1) I still have at least some wisdom I can contribute and 2) my lack of experience doesn’t lessen anything God has to say on the matter.
Today’s marriage lesson is on communication and the role it plays in a strong marriage. Before we talk about how great communication is though, I want to spend some time talking about the alternatives.
It’s Easier to Ignore
Does your spouse take forever to get to the point? Does your husband make jokes you’ve told him you don’t appreciate? Does your wife constantly “remind” you of that chore you need to do? Instead of talking with them about it, just ignore them. Let the words go in one ear and out the other.
It’s Easier to Resent
Instead of talking out whatever problem you’re dealing with, it’s best to remain quiet and let your resentment slowly build. Is your husband doing that thing he knows you hate? Smile, tell him you’re “fine” and bury that anger down deep. Is your wife still complaining about something that’s really not a big deal? Complain to yourself about how negative she is and definitely don’t talk to her about it.
It’s Easier to Assume
Not sure what your husband “meant by that?” or whether your wife is actually “doing fine?” It’s easier just to assume that they were probably being passive-aggressive or lying. Assume they were getting back at your for what your said the other day or that they’re passively affirming insecurities you have of yourself.
Silence, resentment, and assumptions are a lot easier than communication, but you can’t build a great marriage with these elements. For a great marriage you have to have communication. Here’s what good communication in a marriage looks like.
Communication is more than just talking to one another about whatever problems you may be having. There is a right and a wrong way to do it. Below are some thoughts on communication and how it can be done well:
Don’t say “you said this” say “I heard this”. People don’t like having the blame placed on them. It’s better to say that the fault of the bad communication was on you than to fuel the fire more by blaming your spouse’s communication skills.
Always assume your spouse has the best intentions with their words. Don’t assume that your spouse is being passive-aggressive or trying to hurt your feelings. People don’t always speak well; assume they meant good by what they said.
If you’re really not sure what your spouse meant by what they said or are hurt by what they said seek clarification. My wife and I have both inadvertently hurt each other by hearing something our spouse didn’t say. Eventually we talked about it, but the time in between allowed some resentment to build up. Instead of waiting, ask your spouse to clarify what they said. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache.
If you’re asked to clarify a statement that your spouse took in a negative way, don’t be hurt by that. Don’t get mad that your spouse would think you’d say something rude or passive-aggressive. It’s not about you. It’s about their bad day, or their emotions, or stress, etc. Just repeat what you said and let your spouse know that you love them.
Give yourselves time to cool off from a heated discussion, but don’t let anger get the opportunity to settle in. Friends of mine have said “never go to sleep angry with one another.” Paul said “do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph. 4:26). If you have to stay up all night, do so. Don’t let anger settle into your marriage.
These are only a few ways (from a very inexperienced husband) that we can have great communication within a marriage. Have some communication advice you’d like to add? We’d love to see it in the comments below. Thank you for reading and I hope this, and the marriage articles that follow, will be a great help to you.