One of my favorite times of fellowship with the people of God is found in our small group meetings. Perhaps it is because they create opportunities to deepen relationships with some and begin new ones with others. Both laughter and serious subjects abound. Sincere conversation and wise counsel is in the air. Encouragement and edification for the week ahead is found here, too. This is where we can get to know and serve one another better in the body of Christ.
As I had shared in a previous post, we’ve been using Dr. Wayne Mack’s book Strengthening Your Marriage as a resource for our time together, having covered our biblical roles as husband and wife, and some of the goals necessary to promote oneness.
Last night we met and discussed the subject of communication within our marriages. It’s an important time of evaluation for each and every spouse, as good communication doesn’t happen automatically. It must be learned. Good marital communication can only occur when the husband and wife both commit to the skill of good listening (see Prov 20:5); and they surrender to controlling their emotions (Prov 25:28).
It is simply not possible to experience the reality of being one-flesh without a good communication system. We must study our spouse and become a good student of how best to be in agreement with him or her.
What happens when we don’t communicate well (in any relationship)? Issues remain unclarified; misunderstandings occur; deep unity and intimacy is hindered; frustration sets in; hurt and bitterness begin to take root.
Dr. Mack in his book shares twelve practical ways we can hit the reset button in our communication with our valentine. I’ve listed them below. Side-by-side—sitting on couches, chairs, and the floor—we huddled together to look at these, and then examined our communication in light of the fruit of the Spirit from Gal 5:22-23.
12 WAYS TO MAINTAIN GOOD MARITAL COMMUNICATIONS1
1. When there are problems, each must be willing to admit that he/she is part of the problem.
Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy man? (Prov 20:6)
2. Each person must be willing to change.
When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” (John 5:6)
Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent. (Matt 5:23-26)
3. Avoid using emotionally charged words.
These would be phrases like “you never do anything right.” Or “you always do…” “You don’t really love me.” “I don’t care.”
4. Be responsible for your own emotions, words, actions, and reactions. Don’t blame them on the other person.
For each one will bear his own load. (Gal 6:5)
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. (Jas 1:13-15)
5. Refrain from having reruns of old arguments.
Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. (Eph 4:26)
6. Deal with one problem at a time. Solve one problem and then move on to the next.
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34 principle)
7. Deal in the present and not in the past.
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:12-14)
8. Major on the positive instead of majoring on the negative.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Phil 4:8)
9. Learn to communicate in nonverbal ways.
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (Psa 32:8b, NIV)
10. Express your thoughts and concerns to each other. Listen, understand, and respond to the meaning behind what a person is saying.
Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary [a]stayed at the house. Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”
When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him.
Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. (example from Jesus, John 11:20-53)
11. Practice the golden rule.
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matt 7:12, ESV)
12. Practice the principle laid down in Luke 6:35.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. (Luke 6:35)
Why not take two minutes and pray for good communication within your marriage? Pray specifically for your own words. May they be full of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23).