Tools to Bridge the Gap and Find Hope in Your Marriage
My husband and I married young, high school sweethearts with much to learn in life and communication. Conversations in those early years seemed easy because communconversing back then looked like deciding if we wanted to watch another episode of whatever show we were binge-watching or do a midnight Taco Bell run for a Cheesy Gordita Crunch.
It feels weightier as we are about to celebrate 18 years of marriage. With each passing anniversary, there is gratitude for another year and recognition of how difficult marriage can be, especially if we aren’t communicating well. There are days and seasons when it’s easy to feel we are on the same page, and other times we feel misunderstood or overlooked.
Sometimes, our hearts are hardened, making listening to each other tricky, especially when making decisions.
- Should we make the move or the career change?
- What’s the best way to parent the child we see struggling?
- Is this the right school for this child?
- How do we make more margin for family time amidst our busy schedules?
Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (ESV). We are trying to navigate life as one when our thoughts, opinions and personalities differ. It can be easy to avoid a needed conversation because it might cause tension or, on the flip side, demand to be heard.
Healthy communication is a learned skill that takes time and effort. Dr. Randy says we can damage a relationship if we are not intentional when or how we communicate. So what does this look like? And how do we heal a fractured relationship? Often, we just need some tools. Here are a couple I know have helped me.
Scripture is a great tool. Have you ever attended a wedding ceremony where the officiant reads, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV).
It’s a great starting point when we think about when and how to communicate. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not always kind and hardly ever patient. However, when I think about the times my husband and I communicate well, there is an intentional patience, kindness and heart posture of believing the best about him.
In our first year as a married couple, a counselor at the church we attended hosted a small group for young married couples. We were encouraged to consider counseling as maintenance for our marriage, not as a last resort when things get complicated. I am so thankful for that piece of advice. It doesn’t mean it has always been easy to make the time to go or I always feel like talking, but it’s been a blessing.
Even though it can be tremendously helpful, some feel there is a cultural stigma around it, and it can be hard to know where to start. Reach out to your church or a pastor and ask for recommendations.
Prayer is how we communicate with God; if we aren’t communicating well with Him, we probably aren’t doing so in our marriage. Sometimes, we may not recognize we’ve been relying on our spouse in a way we should be relying on God, expecting them to fill voids we didn’t know existed.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (ESV). Bring your communication struggles to God.
There are more tools, but Scripture, counseling and prayer are a great place to start. Remember, God created marriage. “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18 ESV). He wants us to grow in how we communicate with our spouse because it will strengthen our marriage.
What is one thing you can commit to trying this week or month to cultivate better communication?
Sarah Nichols is a writer who loves encouraging women by sharing hope-filled stories that point others to Jesus. She lives in Tucson, AZ, with her husband and four kids. You can find more from Sarah at http://sarahnicholswrites.com.