When God created Adam and made a home for him in the Garden of Eden, who was his friend? Who did he talk to and have fellowship with? It was God, himself. In those long conversations together, I’m sure that Adam was learning art of loving communication. That first picture of a man completely and utterly dependent on his Creator is one I think of often. It’s a beautiful illustration of faith and trust.
When God created Eve, she was given an earthly best friend immediately. She had her God, but she was given a beautiful gift in the man who was also her husband. Adam and Eve needed and depended on God desperately, but I often wonder what their marital communication must have been like. Just two people alone, without our present day distractions, communicating.
My husband, Jeffrey, and I have been married for seventeen years. In the beginning of our marriage, it felt as if we were the only two people in the world. Just us and our God. We loved to sit for hours just talking, soaking up one another and discovering the depths of eachother’s souls. I was fascinated by each new thing I learned about my man. As time went by, as with most married couples, life happens, outside distractions set it and the world suddenly feels like it’s against you. And then that peaceful place that used to be all yours feels a bit crowded and it gets a little harder to communicate the way you used to. This is why God has so much to say about the way we love our spouses.
He knows how hard this life can be. He knows how many distractions we face every single day. And still, He calls us to love Him and love each other above all else…even though it can be hard.
So in a world where we are surrounded by so many others telling us to make sure we stand up for our own rights and seek happiness above all else, the rules of engagement for marital communication seem to be blurred.
If we are self-seeking while trying to effectively get to the heart of any matter with our spouses, how on earth will we ever get anywhere? All this self-centered communicating will only serve to make the enemy happy and cause division in our marriages. Satan would love nothing else than to destroy a marriage by making us think that God doesn’t know what He’s talking about. Sound familiar? That’s exactly what Satan did to Eve in the very beginning. Satan is still up to the same old tricks, which is why it is so vitally important that we believe God instead for the gift He gave to us in the first place. LOVE.
God’s message of love is spelled out within the pages of His word and is where we will find all the answers we need for learning how to communicate with grace and humility.
Here are five things He continues to show us:
1. If possible, each day we need to find time to check in with our spouses. Often, we spend so much time apart during our days. And with children, once we’re home together at night, the focus is on them. And often, by the end of the day, sadly, my husband gets my “leftovers”. I know this about myself and am seeking God to work in my heart about my attitude of weariness at the end of the day. God instructs us to “…not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25) We can apply this in many ways throughout our day. Connecting with one another through quick phone conversations, texts and emails when we’re not together can really go a long way toward making the other feel encouraged. We also make it a habit to set time aside each evening to re-connect and once a week we have an at-home date night after the kids are in bed.
2. If both husband and wife are having a tough day, it’s really easy to begin battling for first prize in the “I feel miserable inside so I deserve the moon” contest. I know this routine. I used to argue with my husband and compare my day to his, which always resulted in division and was rooted in pride. Instead, we need to approach one another with humility and just be open about how we feel instead of entering that self preservation mode. Marriage is a union that we need to protect.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-33. Love does not keep a list of wrongs. If we are to grow in our faith and ultimately grow in our marriages, we need to forgive one another of past wrongs and move forward. Keeping these mental lists will only hold our spouses hostage over things they cannot change and prevent the healing and wholeness that God so desires for our relationships.
4. Nothing will kill healthy communication between a husband and wife more than criticism. It will only cause the one being criticized to build up walls and shut down. Pointing out our spouse’s faults while forgetting our own is a sure way to cause division. (Matthew 7:1-5)
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. -Colossians 3:135. One of the best ways to breathe life into your marriage is to learn how your spouse feels loved the most. What is their love language? Reading Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages was really eye opening for me and revealed so many new ways for me to connect with my own husband and ultimately strengthen our marriage.
Learning how to have Godly communication does take time. It’s something my husband and I have both had to work on diligently through times of ease and seasons of difficulty. For us, we’ve had to become students of the Word and work intentionally at learning how to serve one another in and through our daily communication. And honestly, even though it’s work, there is so much more joy when we choose to live on the same page with one another instead of on opposite sides of the fence.