Communication 101 for a Godly and Healthy Marriage
Biblical counselors Jeff and Rose Colón offer practical advice on the basics of communication between a husband and wife.
Jeff and Rose Colón, communication must be a frequent topic that comes up when you counsel couples. Can you give us some thoughts on this area?
Jeff Colón: Words are powerful, and they will either work to bring about God's peace and unity in a marriage or they'll work to bring about contention, strife and division. A couple has to learn how to bring God's thinking into their communication. They have to learn how to reconcile differences and how to come to common ground—whatever they're dealing with.
What are some of the ways that you see communication problems manifest when you're counseling couples?
Rose Colón: Usually, when we counsel the husband and wife and we sit there and watch and observe them communicate with one another, one of the common problems that both the husband and wife have is that they tend to jump to conclusions—without really knowing what's going on with the other partner. Or they read into something the husband or the wife is doing or not doing. And they draw these conclusions, and later on, they find out that they were so wrong.
Rose, what particular things do you notice when you're talking to wives about the issue of communication?
Rose Colón: What we usually see with the wives when we talk about these issues is that there's times when she's communicating and she's not aware of how she's tearing her husband down with her words…or how she's attacking his manhood. And the husband feels like, "I can't do anything right," and he starts shutting down in communicating with her. And it becomes a barrier between both of them.
Jeff, what are some practical ways that a couple can begin to work on problems with their communication?
Jeff Colón: It's really very simple. It's just them learning to sit down and to communicate biblically. A lot of times, we get into things with our spouse while we're out in the car driving around or while we're at the store. And that's really not the time to talk about an issue. Or sometimes, we're at home and one person shuts down and doesn't want to talk. Or we play the silent treatment. If a couple wants Christ in the center of their home, there has to be a willingness to communicate. So a conference table is a good way to do that. They can set up a place in the home where they know, "This is where we're going to sit down, and this is where we're going to talk things through." We always tell them to have a Bible on the table, because you want God's perspective on whatever it is you're talking about. We encourage them to pray before they start. And if there's anything that needs to be repented of, now would be a good time.
I've found in my own marriage that if our hearts aren't right starting out, it's going to be very difficult to communicate. So it's very important, obviously, that our hearts get right before we can sit down. So we encourage them to get anything out and to maybe admit, "You know what, I was wrong today," or maybe, "My attitude has been wrong." And it's a good time to repent to one another and then begin to talk about the problem.
As you've counseled people about starting with repentance, have you found that some problems actually get resolved at that point?
Jeff Colón: Yeah, actually, what you find out is that what you got mad about was really not an issue.
Rose Colón: And for the wife, during this time, she might need to repent of being resentful toward her husband or bitter toward him. Maybe he spoke to her a certain way that day and she's been carrying it around all day. And maybe they have the conference table at 7 o'clock that night. But all day, she's been running that thing over and over in her mind and heart, and she's developing a root of bitterness toward her husband. This is a good opportunity for her to come to her husband and to say, "You know, I need to repent, because my heart's not right toward you in that area; I've allowed myself to become bitter or resentful toward you."
Considering how busy people's lives are, how important is this practice of setting aside time on a regular basis to communicate like you're describing?
Jeff Colón: I think that in the beginning, it's very important. Especially for a couple that has issues that they're working through and that has a serious communication problem. They have to learn how to communicate, and they're not going to learn without practice. And then, after a while, after they feel like they are communicating, it could be limited to when they have issues—when something's not right, when they've got to deal with the kids about something. There's always something that needs to be discussed in a home, and it really is a good idea to have a place where we can sit down and really put our hearts into it and have God in the middle of it. To me, it's a good habit to do often.
Beyond the blessings that it provides to the couple themselves, how important is good communication to God?
Jeff Colón: It's very important. Jesus warned us many times about our words, and in Ephesians, Paul said that when we allow any "corrupt communication...[to] come out of our mouths," we "grieve the Holy Spirit." God wants our words to edify one another. He wants our words to build up one another—to encourage one another. When we're not communicating in the Spirit, we're hurting one another. It really is a barometer of whether God is conquering my will—whether God is having His way in my life.
This excerpt is from our podcast episode, “Five Reasons Why People Struggle With Same-Sex”, Episode #337.
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