“Communication”. What does that word mean to you? To me, it means work, reward, connection, misunderstanding… all depending if I am communicating well or not. What can we do to improve communication? Boil all the books, seminars, and personality tests down – and I think there are three basics.
1. Pray for insight into your spouse
I remember a time, shortly after we were married, that I was praying and bemoaning the fact that my husband hadn’t come with a manual or a coach to teach me and explain him to me. As I prayed, the Lord impressed on my heart that my husband was His creation.
He knew him and could teach me all about him. Wow! The best Teacher, ever, was willing to coach me in my man and what he wanted and needed in a wife. Over the last 8 years, the Lord has faithfully done that. I’ve enjoyed keeping notes on Nathan. Because, as the movie Fireproof would say, I’m working toward my PhD in Nathan someday!
2. Pray for insight into yourself
As we have grown in our marriage, I’ve realized that I often assume that my husband understands things that he doesn’t understand. Lines like “if you really loved me you’d get it” did no good. Taking my frustrations to the Lord, I cried out “Lord, please just let Nathan spell out clearly what he’s thinking.”
My ever loving Father quietly spoke to my heart “well, why don’t you spell out to him what you’re thinking then”. That was a new one to me. But as I’ve tried to verbalize how I’m feeling, what I’m thinking, and what’s going on in my life – I think it has been easier for us to communicate in our marriage.
It certainly is easier for me when people do that for me! I’ll add here that I’ve often had to go to the Lord to ask Him to teach me about me. “Lord, I’m feeling like this and I have no idea why. Please give me understanding and insight so that I can explain it!” The Lord has never failed to teach me or given me the needed words.
3. Ask good questions and listen
This is actually a lot of fun. Nathan asked me a while ago if there were some questions that he could ask that would give him an idea of how I was doing. (Greg and Erin Smally mentioned this on a Focus on the Family broadcast) I gave him 5. Then he gave me 5. A handful. I can remember that!
We’ve also found it very helpful to ask each other what love and support look like to the other. Also, when they share something, to ask what response they would like – just to be heard, some ideas or advice, or to be prayed for. Assuming that the other person will just need and feel love in the same way you do is a dangerous path … so ask! And you’ll grow closer together at the same time!