"And we can be like that in our marriages, too. We stop talking about matters of the heart and only talk logistics: who is going to the grocery store, who is driving to karate lessons, who is going to help mom this weekend. We criticize when we should keep our mouth shut; we retreat to our own hobbies instead of spending time together. We never make love." Sheila Wray Gregoire.
There is this thing which can happen between couples which can cause very serious issues in a marriage.
They stop talking.
And when you stop communicating with your husband or wife, you open your marriage to a series of "wreckers" which can lead to a variety of uncomfortable relationship scenarios which lead (invariably) toward divorce court and a broken family.
I can tell you from personal experience this is very true. Here are just a few examples of what can happen:
- Drifting away from each other as you pursue separate activities.
- Anger---which can lead to depression and resentment.
- Everyone but your spouse knowing your opinion of your spouse (especially the in-laws).
- Intimate involvement with another man or woman who will talk (emotional counts too) or give what you think you need.
My husband and I were separated for five years. Both of us at one time or other filed for divorce. We had stopped talking to the point that when he finally admitted he believed I had no respect for him (because of how I talked at him) I realized how far down the road we'd traveled because I didn't think he listened or talked to me at all. It is truly by the grace of God our relationship was restored. More couples than I care to mention do not (or more likely are not willing to) find that healing.
Many individuals (including Christians) enter into a marriage with the expectation their husband or wife will always be able to anticipate (and satisfy) their needs. Very few couples are taught how to communicate with one another on a good day,let alone during a disagreement. Suddenly our spouse is less than desirable company and it becomes hard to find something good to even think about them let alone say to them.
But I want to encourage you to learn to do it anyway and never stop practicing.
1. Listen (really hearing them--repeat back what they say so you can confirm you understand) to your spouse.
2. Tell your spouse what you need, how your feeling, how you perceived something they said or did.
3. Ask your spouse questions to clarify how they are feeling or reacting or what they need.
This is something you need to do every day, not just during an argument when emotions are running high. Even more important, is making sure you are investing time in your spouse. Creating good marriage habits is what Sheila Gregoire is challenging her readers to do within their marriage relationships. These are great ideas (which my husband and I have learned to do in our own relationship over the past six years). I highly recommend it.
- Greet your husband or wife with a kiss and hug.
- Praise your spouse twice every day.
- Pray for your wife or husband before you go to sleep.
- For wives--stop reading romance novels or watching movies which make you feel dissatisfied with your husband.
- For husbands---get up off the couch and help your wife with the dishes, the kids, or some other task without being asked.
- Make sex a regular part of your relationship.
- Spend time talking, laughing, and enjoying each other's company every day.
- Learn about one of your spouses favorite hobbies or sports.
The most important thing you can do for your relationship is realize you are in a covenant with your spouse and God. MAKE the time to do those things which will bring joy, peace, and longevity to your marriage. Trust me, when the difficult days (or weeks, or months, or years) come you will be better equipped to weather the storm with your relationship in tact.