Communication in marriage can be a daunting topic to tackle whether in your own marriage or others; but it is a vital part of a healthy and gospel-centered marriage. The way in which we communicate to our spouse not only reveals our heart but in time can eat away at our marriage foundation if it is not rooted in the gospel. Here are three quick tips to help you get started with healthy communication in your marriage.
1. Love: As sinful beings selfishness and self-centeredness seem to come naturally to all of us. When we get married and we bring the baggage of selfishness into our marriage our goal in marriage then becomes about us and how we can serve ourselves rather than our spouse. With that, we are then failing to communicate a gospel-centered love to our spouse. Philippians 2:1-5 directs us to set ourselves and our desires aside, focus on delivering love and putting others, such as our spouse, before ourselves. The greatest example of this is the gospel as it was lived out by Jesus Christ as he set aside himself, took the humble form of a servant, and bore each of our sins on the cross, to the point of his death. We need to love our spouse as Christ loves us.
2. Listen: Another aspect of loving our spouse is to listen to them. Just as God listens to us (Isaiah 65:24) we need to listen as well. The language of our spouse will come to us in a number of ways, not just with voice but in body language and behavior as well. It is imperative that we not just physically hear their words or interpret their body language but that we truly listen to what they are conveying to us. Listening is not thinking about what we want to say in response to them but focusing on what they are striving to show us is in their heart. We need to be ready to serve the needs of our spouse but we will not know what those needs are if we fail to listen. Failure to listen is one of the biggest issues in marriages. Wouldn’t it be glorious if in your marriage you were able to make it one of your greatest strengths!
3. Language: While there are a number of ways that we communicate our words seem to be the most impactful. Whether they are encouraging words delivered in love or the cutting and wicked words used like a sword to cut down anyone in our path; our words leave a lasting and deep impression. The question is, do you want your words to leave a deep wound or do you want your spouse to reflect upon the word impressions and receive encouragement and gospel-centered love? When the words we choose are wounding, our spouse will begin to withdraw and not share their heart, which is the opposite of what God desires in marriage (Genesis 2:25). It is important that we also understand that silence can leave deep wounds as well and communicates to our spouse that we are not listening. We all have a choice in the words we choose to speak and the tone we use towards our spouse. Ephesians 4:29 is a great example as to how we are to speak; we are to have encouraging words to build up. Proverbs 16:24 tells us how sweet and healthy uplifting words are for our body. Those are just a few examples from scripture on how we are to speak to one another.
While these are only three ways to communicate effectively in marriage they do seem to be the ones that cover the most ground. They address some of the larger root issues that creep into marriage waging war on the gospel-centered marriage foundation.
1. What is your responsibility in how your spouse is feeling?
2. Do you know what style of communication best reaches your spouse?
3. How can you pray for your spouse?
4. In what ways can you better serve your spouse?
5. Of these three points, love, listen, and language, which do you struggle with the most?
1. Plan a bi-weekly date with the objective of communicating; therefore plan for something that is conducive to conversation.
2. Have a time each day to sit and discuss your day in detail.
3. Make get-aways a priority; semi-annual is a great start.
4. Worship together.
5. Set goals and have fun together.
6. Be more intentional about encouraging your spouse in conversation and in written word.