How effective is your communication with your spouse when there is a serious problem in your marriage? Can you discuss it constructively or do the lines of communication immediately get cut? This is a question that should be answered before the need arises so that steps can be taken to develop effective communication and strengthen your connection.
Your ability to communicate with your spouse is fundamental to the deepening of your relationship and ultimately to the success of your marriage. Every failed marriage can be traced to one or both partners’ failure to communicate. If two people have no way to communicate, they can’t resolve conflicts. Consequently, their marriage will become a lonely standoff or the relationship will dissolve altogether. Likewise, every enjoyable and satisfying marriage is directly related to that couple’s skill and effectiveness in the art of communication.
If you truly desire greater intimacy and companionship with your mate, then your ability to communicate must grow. How do you do this? Here are some simple steps.
1. Are you willing? Here is where all effective communication begins. Change in any area of your life requires a willing heart. God will not force you to communicate anymore than He would force you into a relationship with Himself. Remember what Jesus said to the religious leaders of His day: “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37)? How often a spouse will say this same thing to me in counseling. “I want a close relationship and intimacy, but he (she) is simply unwilling.” In this passage Jesus points out that willingness is the key to any relationship. In most cases when communication is suffering in a marriage, it’s not a question of a person’s lack of ability to communicate, but simply their unwillingness to do so.
Therefore, how willing are you to spend the time necessary to build your communication skills? Are you ready and willing to ask forgiveness for any failure in this area of your relationship? Are you also eager to learn new ways of becoming a better communicator?
2. Give up your excuses. If you are truly willing to allow God to improve your ability to communicate, first you must give up any excuses you have established in your mind. An excuse is any reason you use to evade your responsibility to communicate with your spouse.
What are some of these excuses? Some have said to me, “It’s my parents’ fault that I don’t communicate. I never had a good example in my family as I was growing up.” Usually people think this is an excellent excuse. However, I remind them that they do have a good example now, Jesus Christ. He is the best example that anyone could have of an effective communicator (John 13:15).
Or, people will tell me, “It’s my spouse’s fault for the way I communicate. If he or she wouldn’t be so _____ I wouldn’t respond the way I do.” But, this is simply not taking personal responsibility for your own actions. It is shifting the blame to someone else.
Let me give you an example of the ultimate excuse and God’s ultimate solution. Moses possessed a seemingly legitimate excuse for his unwillingness to speak for God. He complained, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, …. but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” (Ex. 4:10). It appears that Moses had great insecurity about his ability to talk because of some kind of speech impediment. However, the most important question is, did the Lord accept his speech problem as a valid excuse? No! God responded by asking Moses, “Who has made man’s mouth? …Therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say” (Ex. 4:11-12). God’s answer to Moses was to give him a promise that He would help him and teach him what he should say. Did the Lord keep His promise? All you have to do is read the books of Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy to see how well Moses did as he spoke to the people.
Therefore, give up your excuses! Instead, start asking God for His help and instruction concerning how to become a better communicator. God will be with your mouth as He was with Moses.
3. Acknowledge your failures. The next step in becoming an effective communicator is to acknowledge your failures in communication. This means you must humbly and honestly consider where you are failing before God, and then confess it to your mate.
If you are thinking, But what if I don’t know where my failures are? Stop and take a moment to think. Do you stubbornly refuse to acknowledge your faults when conflicts arise? When you are confronted, do you simply turn and walk away refusing to communicate? Or, do you viciously attack your mate with angry and harsh criticism when you disagree over an issue? Do you rudely interrupt your spouse simply because you are impatient? When your mate finds out that you have done something he or she considers wrong, do you lie to cover yourself? Or, do you exaggerate the facts to make yourself look better? If you struggle with any of these failures in your relationship, resolve them by first acknowledging them and asking your mate to forgive you. In addition, you should also humbly ask God for His conviction and instruction concerning how to change in these areas.
If you would like more information on the marriage ministry of Pastor Steve Carr or his book Married and How To Stay That Way, visit www.covenantkeepers.org