Communication, or lack thereof, can either make or break a marriage. Being a Christian does not exempt a person from being a poor communicator; we all must be diligent to communicate with our spouses in such a way that we’re understanding each other more than fighting to be understood. We often fail to use clear and descriptive language when speaking to our spouses. Men and women are different, and the ways in which we think, speak, and act are different, which is why we need to use precise language. Being intentional with our words helps our spouses understand what we’re saying.
Clear communication plays a key role in creating oneness in marriage, particularly as you’re developing your own family culture. You cannot develop your own family rhythm and traditions if you’re always resorting back to what your family practiced when you were growing up. D. A. and I now see how communication (or lack thereof) affected our struggle to find our identity of oneness during our early years of marriage.
You’re reading with Elicia and D.A. Horton from their book Enter the Ring.
One Sunday afternoon after church, we headed home to chill and unwind. I went into the kitchen to find something in the fridge to cook for lunch. As I opened the fridge, the light bulb went off—I suddenly remembered that my mom had told me she was making a big pot of spaghetti after church and we were welcome to come over to eat and watch football. Cue the celebration music! I didn’t have to cook, and Mom was making spaghetti! Her sauce is amazing—it’s worth canceling all plans just to partake in that heavenly goodness. So it was a no-brainer for me.
I rushed into the other room and told D. A., “My mom is making spaghetti!” He gave me a blank stare and nodded. “That’s good,” he said. Time stood still as I waited for a further response. I had been sure he would match my enthusiasm by marching right back upstairs, changing his church clothes, and putting on something a little more comfortable and stretchy. (In case you were wondering, Mom’s spaghetti equals stretchy pants.)
He then asked, “So what are you making for lunch?” At that, a war started raging deep in my soul. I tried to muster the self-control to not show my disgust and spew out a sarcastic remark. I wanted to lovingly remind my sweet husband that I wasn’t planning on making lunch and that it was a grand idea for us to make the trip to my parents’ house for Sunday lunch. Instead, I opened my mouth and said, “Seriously, are you kidding me?”
I stormed out of the kitchen, walked right upstairs, and plunged my face into a pillow, crying in frustration and despair.
It wasn’t until months later that we finally discussed what happened. My sweet husband hadn’t realized that I was trying to clue him in to my desire to go to my parents’ house for spaghetti. I indeed said that my mom was making spaghetti, and in his mind he heard a statement, not a question, which he acknowledged with “That’s good.” I never asked him if he wanted to go. I had assumed he would just pick up on my meaning, and when he didn’t, I assumed wrong motives in his response.
Communication is integral for oneness in marriage. As much as D. A. and I like to think that we’ll eventually learn how to read each other’s minds, it’s not going to happen. Both of us need to put forth the effort to keep the lines of communication open.
Here’s a simple principle to keep in mind: Assumptions lead to more assumptions, and communication leads to more communication. It’s never healthy to assume that the person you are trying to communicate with understands your heart unless you have shared your heart. Assumptions about what someone does or doesn’t understand simply creates assumptions about that person’s response. The best way you can avoid the confusion that assumptions bring is to use clear and honest communication that invites your spouse to respond with open communication in return.
Now, there’s a caveat to this: Sometimes you’ll express what’s on your heart, but your spouse isn’t ready to handle it. Don’t retreat. Don’t close up shop. Keep the light on. Pray hard. And instead of always praying for God to change the other person, begin by praying that God will first change your heart. Transformation begins with you. You can’t expect your spouse to miraculously be ready to listen to your heart, but God is always ready. Any lack of communication between your spouse and you should push you into deeper communication with our heavenly Father. As James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”
You’ve been reading with Elicia and D.A. Horton from their book Enter the Ring: Fighting Together for a Gospel-Saturated Marriage. You can read a free excerpt of the intro and chapter one here. D.A. and Elicia have been fighting for their marriage for over 15 years and are passionate about family discipleship. Get your copy of the book or learn more about D.A. and Elicia at entertheringbook.com