Monday, September 28, 2015

The Second Most Important Thing in Marriage...


It’s communication. I know, I know you’ve heard it before, but maybe there’s a reason you’ve heard it already. Communication is very, very important. In fact, we think it’s only second to a relationship with Christ in importance for making your marriage work. If you’re reading this right now and your marriage is in trouble, chances are you’re not communicating well.

Think back to when you were dating. You talked on the phone for hours, and you hung on to every word the other person said. There is no reason marriage can’t be a little like that. So many couples only really talk when they are arguing. Take some time to sit down without the distractions that usually go on around you and just talk. It doesn’t have to be about anything big, but just listen to what the other person is saying. I think you’ll find that you really do care about what’s going on in their life, and they really care about what’s going on in yours.

Laura and I both struggled with communication, especially while we dated long distance. I was a pleaser, so I never wanted to say anything that would cause conflict. Laura was an avoider, so she wouldn’t let me in. If she was upset, she wouldn’t say why. If I was upset, I tried to just get over it. None of that equals communication. It’s not real. Real communication starts with honesty, even when it’s not convenient.

So how do you start? For us, we literally schedule time in our week to share our feelings. (Men, it’s okay to have feelings and share them.) For both of us, we had a hard time knowing what we were feeling, much less how to talk about it. But it gets easier with time and practice, and it doesn’t always have to be about conflict. Now, if I’m stressed at work, I can share that and feel encouraged. If she’s having a bad week, she can share that and feel supported.

So, I would say first it takes time. A conscious effort because we’re all busy. But it also requires you to respect what your spouse is saying.  This is a lot harder than it sounds for a lot of people. You can probably see exactly why your spouse is wrong, but you still need to hear them out because you love them and that’s an important way to show them that you respect them. Listening is the hardest part of communication for a good portion of people, especially men. I’m a man, and I can tell you, it’s not a skill that comes naturally to most of us. It’s also difficult for a lot of women though. If you like to talk, you probably don’t listen all that well unless you’ve consciously worked on it.

If you have questions on listening and responding, please feel free to email Laura and me (Howell) through the “contact us” link at the top of this site. I encourage you to try really listening to what your spouse has to say. Schedule time to talk without distractions if you have to. You never know, you might learn something about your spouse that you never knew.


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