2+2=1

October 4, 2015

An attractive senior couple at home on the couch together. Isolated on white.

The next principle necessary in marital communication is not only knowing your mate but accepting and honoring your mate as the man or the woman God made them to be. A common source of miscommunication in marriage is the simple fact that men and women are different. Not only does the opposite sex have many physical and emotional differences but communication differences as well, and these differences are often amplified in the marriage union. A great amount of fighting in marriage comes from not understanding and accepting these differences.

 

Many women grow up with a female best friend who they share all their feelings with, and in return, the best friend primarily gives affirmation. Men are typically more goal-oriented communicators. Communication is meant to accomplish something. Often male communication is used to decide where one is going, how to get there, and then what to do after getting there. It has a goal in mind. Whereas for a woman many times the goal is different. The goal could be as simple as expression, feeling heard and accepted.

 

Often women cry out, “Men!” And men cry out, “Women!” Both cry out in despair because they cannot figure out the other. The Bible teaches that God chose man and woman for one another. Eve was taken from Adam’s ribs and formed perfectly to match him. Though different, man and woman were made for one another, and when unified in a godly marriage, there may be no greater way in which they demonstrate the image of God (cf. Gen 1:27).

 

In creating man and woman, we can be sure God was aware of the immense differences that could cause conflict in their relationship. Therefore, he gave clear instructions in his Word about how to navigate the communication gap in order to have a successful marriage.

 

Again, the apostle Peter, a married man, said this in his epistle:

 

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

1 Peter 3:7

 

Peter called wives the weaker partner (or weaker vessel) and commanded husbands to be considerate of them and to treat them with respect (or honor). What did he mean by the woman being the weaker vessel? Certainly, it means weaker physically, but it probably means much more than that. One interpretation is that weaker vessel has the connotation of more precious or more delicate vessel. Because the woman is more delicate than the man, he is more prone to hurt her physically, emotionally, and of course, verbally. For this reason, Paul commanded husbands to not be harsh with their wives (Col 3:19). Many times, the husband becomes harsh with his wife simply because of their differences—the different ways God made them. Therefore, Peter calls for husbands to not only be considerate of these differences but also to honor them (1 Peter 3:7). Though Peter speaks to the husband, the wife, certainly, must obey this as well. She must be considerate of her husband and the way God made him, and honor those differences.

 

As stated before, many men and women, instead of honoring the differences God created in the opposite sex, dishonor them and set out to change them. The man wants the woman to be more direct, to stop being so lady-like, and so sensitive. The woman wants the man to be more sensitive and to listen better. Certainly, there is much we can and should learn from the opposite sex. With that said, we must always “honor/respect” the unique differences that are rooted in how God created them. God made males and females different from one another.

 

Surely, as many married men do, Peter probably started out trying to make his wife more like himself. But Peter learned that God uniquely created women and those differences were to be honored. Therefore, this is an important principle to remember in marriage and one that God commends. Honor the unique characteristics of the vessel God created for you.

 

In my marriage, this has helped me tremendously. Where previously, I wanted my wife to change; I couldn’t understand or accept her thinking. I’ve learned to accept and honor her as the more delicate vessel. God made her different from me, and praise God for those differences. Instead of trying to change her, I am learning to daily accept and honor her more. I want her to feel the acceptance and joy that God has for her uniqueness. In addition, I’m also learning how much I need each one of those unique differences.

 

Pre-married couples should learn to accept the differences in their mate, to honor those differences, and to learn from them. Since God made the woman to help the man and the man to help the woman, they need to learn from one another. Learn how to honor those differences, and make your spouse feel accepted and honored for being who God has uniquely made him or her to be. This mutual honor will enhance communication.

Always Speak Edifying Words

 

Related to honoring our spouse, God makes it very clear that we should never dishonor him or her through our words. Watch any movie or TV show and you will see people disrespecting and dishonoring one another. Sadly, this often happens in marriages, in direct conflict with God’s commands.

 

Paul says this in Ephesians 4:29-30:

 

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

 

Through Paul, God commanded us to never let unwholesome talk come out of our mouths. This includes cursing, blaming, accusing, gossiping, lying, etc. All these are unfit for Christians to speak, especially in the context of marriage.

 

Paul also gives the positive directive of speaking “only” words that build the other up according to their needs (v. 29). In marriage, the majority of fights would never begin if couples spoke words that build up rather than tear down.

 

Psychologists have affirmed a useful method to aid in this process called using “I statements” instead of “you statements”. When a wife says, “You never listen to me!” and “You don’t care about me!” This automatically makes a husband feel attacked and go on the defensive.

 

Instead, it is suggested that we use “I statements” such as: “When you start talking before I finish sharing, I feel like you’re not listening to me.” “When you watch TV all night, I feel like you don’t care about me.” This is simply giving information, instead of accusing one of personal wrong. And, it opens the door for evaluating these feelings instead of fighting. This is a great tool that will help one speak only words that edify, especially when dealing with a potentially sensitive topic.

Practice the Art of Listening

 

In conjunction with speaking only words that edify, Scripture also gives us further teaching about healthy communication. James, the brother of Jesus, said, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).

 

In order for a person to only speak edifying words, they must master the art of listening. Here are a few tips to aid in becoming a better listener. One should:

1. Practice listening to what your spouse is saying.

 

It has often been said that God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we would listen twice as much as we talk. This is a wise principle in communication. We must practice listening.

 

Something that will help with this is practicing “active listening.” We do this by repeating what our spouse said in order to get confirmation. For instance, one could say, “This is what I hear you saying, you feel neglected when I watch TV all night. Is that correct?” By repeating, you get to clarify your spouse’s words and intentions. You also show him or her that you are trying to understand, which is important in communication.

2. Practice listening to what your spouse is not saying.

 

Many times, there is more communicated by what a person is not saying than what is actually said. Communication is between 60 to 90% nonverbal. Sometimes, just the fact that a spouse is quiet may say a great deal. It may say he is not feeling well or he has more to talk about. This is something a good spouse will learn to discern. Study your spouse’s body language and tendencies in order to enhance communication.

3. Practice listening to the Holy Spirit.

 

God wants to give us wisdom to minister to the uniqueness of our spouse. He knows our spouse in a greater way than we do. Therefore, we should practice praying, even sometimes during conversations, so we can hear what God wants us to hear and say what he wants us to say (cf. Neh 2:4-5). James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

4. Practice speaking less.

 

Of course, in order for a person to clearly listen to his spouse and God at the same time, he must learn how to talk less. Solomon said this in Proverbs, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking” (10:19, NKJV). In many relationships, people talk way too much and, therefore, listen way too little, which leads to constant arguments. James said we should be quick to listen and “SLOW TO SPEAK.”

Two eyes, two ears, one mouth, even nature tells us to look and listen more than speak.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: