Creating a Culture of Communication in your Marriage
It never ceases to fail us, the busier our schedules get the weaker our communication becomes. The less face-to-face time we have as husband and wife the less heart-to-heart communication we experience as a couple.
Communication is one of the most complicated aspects in building healthy relationships because we so often mistake talking to each other as communicating with one another.
After many years of an ebb and flow of healthy and unhealthy communication in my own marriage, and with speaking and ministering to couples, my husband and I have learned important qualities necessary to creating and nurturing a culture of communication in our marriage.
3 steps to creating a culture of communication in your marriage:
- Reset your expectations. What do we really expect from our husbands when it comes to communication? Are we wanting them to spend hours a day with us chatting about their emotions? Do we expect them to understand what we’re experiencing without having to explain ourselves? Are we wanting them to engage us before we engage them? Are we setting realistic regarding communication in our marriage?
For years I believed that because my husband was my best friend I was required to tell him everything and process every emotion or experience with him every day the way I would with a girlfriend. Ha! I quickly learned that verbally processing every emotion and experience with my husband was overwhelming to my internal processing husband, and left him feeling frustrated.
When we expect our husband to be our expert verbal processing partner, it leaves them feeling paralyzed in their attempt to refrain from wanting to naturally ‘fix’ what we share. When I realized that being best friends didn’t mean I needed to process everything with my husband, I began to establish healthy, godly friendships with women who I could process emotions with. This allowed me to offer my husband the bottom line of a situation because I had already emotionally and verbally processed everything I needed to.
- Evaluate your own communication. Often times it’s difficult to recognize or even admit how our own communication patterns are unhelpful or unhealthy. For myself, I had become a communication tyrant. I spouted orders to children all day and was soon spouting orders to my husband when he would come home. I highly recommend not doing this!
Take some time and consider how you speak to others and how you speak to your husband. Are you inviting or insulting? Are you controlling or flexible? Would you want to have a conversation with yourself? How does the way you speak to your husband make him feel?
If our husband spends all day dealing with challenging clients or co-workers and comes home only to have his wife be challenging or critical toward him as well, no wonder he shuts down in communication.
Ruthlessly evaluate your own communication.
Are we being slow to speak and slow to anger, or are we spewing hatred and resentment? Are we manipulating affection by withholding words of praise and affirmation? Are we speaking truth that is loving, wholesome, and life-filled instead of words that hurt our husbands and marriages?
Before God will work on the ‘we’, let’s allow Him to work on ‘me’, which means taking a hard, honest look at how we communicate with our husbands in light of God’s Word.
- Speak their language. Men speak in a language of respect. Understanding the power of respect was pivotal in shifting our communication. Not only did I need to shift my words, I needed to shift my attitude and tone. At first, speaking “respect talk” (as Dr. Emerson Eggerichs of Love and Respect calls it) was awkward and foreign. It felt ‘weird’ because it wasn’t what I needed in communication, but it was exactly what my husband needed!
Respect talk shifted the communication from talking to my husband to talking with my husband. My husband became engaged in conversation when I initiated respect talk into our conversations. Learning to speak his language seemed like a lot of work in the beginning, but the payoff was astounding.
In time I saw his heart and conversation move toward learning my language of communication which is love. As his tank became full to overflowing he was able to in turn work on filling my tank to full and overflowing. This balance takes time and often one partner has to do more work than the other, but it is worth the work if we want communication to blossom in marriage.
Communication can easily crumble during stressful times of the year, especially the holidays. Before we allow frustration and resentment to build, let’s step back and slow things down by going back to the basics of things we can control–our own self and our words.
Let’s be wives willing to work toward a culture of healthy communication in our marriages!
Wife Step: Go through the above steps and spend time talking with God about them. Submit any areas needed to God in prayer, confessing any wrongdoing or lack you have contributed to communicating with your husband and resolve to speak to your husband with respect and grace today.
Natalia Drumm is a writer, speaker and teacher with a passion for building community and engaging women in the Word of God. She is married to her high school sweetheart, and they are raising three little boys in their home town of North Port, FL. Natalia and her husband serve in their local church as marriage small group leaders and life group coaches. They have a passion for healthy marriages as they have seen the restorative power of God in their own marriage and family.
Natalia is an assignment writer for Lifeway Women and serves as the Bible Study Content Editor at Living by Design Ministries. She also volunteers at Proverbs 31 Ministries on their proofreading team and leads a COMPEL Discovery Group. Natalia writes over at www.nataliadrumm.com where she creates devotional study books on issues relevant to womanhood and living in the fullness of God’s design for womanhood.
When not writing, or serving at church, Natalia spends her time running, reading and enjoying a good Netflix binge. She’s also not be one to turn down a cold Coke and hot chocolate chip cookie.