MARRIAGE Caring Enough To Listen Communication PART I
by DeBorrah K. Ogans
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Caring Enough To Listen=Communication
When God created marriage he intended for it to be beautiful. It was designed for companionship. Marriage was not meant to seem like a sentence. It was not meant to be full of on going drudgery. Nor was it meant to neither suffocate, smother, nor repress each others unique individuality. It was made so the realization of “two becoming one flesh” could be realized. It was meant to help mature and grow a man/woman in a husband/wife relationship. To learn how to love, submit, commit, respect, and learn together what it means to work through and out of difficulties as well as enjoy great experiences within the confines of a committed relationship.
Having healthy good communication is an important component within a good marriage. I want to encourage you to make it a priority to learn how to effectively communicate to one another. To know where one another are, to consider each others opinions, to be objective and express your self freely. It is important to make a conscious effort to treat your partner with respect. This does not mean that you have to agree on everything. This communicates I care enough to take the time to really get to know you. Having each others best interest at heart is also important. You should also be able to express your concerns if you feel they may be making a wrong decision. When expressing yourself say “I feel” or “I think” in expressing your point of view. You also want to learn to admit when you are in error. No one is right all the time. Part of being a good spouse is saying and doing at times what no one else will. You both have a responsibility to fulfill your commitment to one another as well as to the Lord.
Marriage was really designed as a partnership to help you become all that you were meant to be. Many couples often live as strangers. Within the boundaries of marriage you should grow to be able to spiritually, mentally, emotionally and yes physically openly learn to express your deepest inner thoughts in a healthy way. It is important to really get to know this person you have committed to. Ask yourself do you honor God in your relationship? Is submission a part of your marriage? It is important to include and seek the Lord’s direction and trust Him to teach you how to build a healthy relationship. It is never too late to start if you have not already. Does your marriage include intimacy? God our Creator is a God of order. You should never get to the place where you think you do not need to consult the Lord.
God made the heavens and the earth which were spoken into existence through His Word. The Word became flesh and “dwelt among us”. The Word as revealed in the scriptures tells us He is Jesus Christ. (See John 1) After creating the man from the dust of the earth God took the man He had created and placed him in the garden to take care of it. The one thing that Adam did not have was a companion “a suitable helper.” All the animals that God made already had partners. No doubt that Adam was brilliantly intelligent. Adam personally named all the animals. God caused Adam to go into a deep sleep and from within Adam He took one of His rib bones and made him a woman. She was taken from within Adam to be with Him as his God given partner. Someone to share his life with. Adam named her Eve. Initially they were open and not ashamed. They were even physically naked. It was not until after they had disobeyed God that they actually realized they were naked. (See the rest of the story in Genesis)
We are all naked before God. He knows us from the inside out. God is Omniscient meaning all knowing. There is absolutely nothing He does not know. Think about it for a moment, does not our Creator/ Manufacturer know our intended purpose? So why is it we do not consult Him whenever a problem, situation or issue arises? You listen to everyone else? God did not intend for us to look to the world for a marriage model. This is one of the major reasons why nearly 60% of marriages don’t succeed. I have been observing marriage relational dynamics for many years. No two marriages are alike. We are all very different. But God’s principles must be included if you really want your relationship to succeed.
One of the biggest problems in marriage or any other relationship really is poor communication. To communicate means to convey a thought, idea or relay information clearly. To transport information so that it is satisfactorily received or understood. Listening is crucial; it is a necessary component when one desires to effectively communicate. Communication is both verbal and nonverbal. Good healthy communication manifests when you are able to openly connect with who ever you are trying to communicate to.
Many problems and issues arise, when the time is not taken to communicate directly to each other this only further compacts the situation. If you have not taken the time to develop intimate communication with your spouse now is the time to get started. How do I do this? Stop hiding behind issues and past hurts. Get over them. Stop hanging on to the things that you cannot change. This does not mean that you forget. It means that you no longer hold whatever has happened against them. You instead choose to become wiser from whatever has transpired. When past issues become current issues what do you do? You must deal with them. Don’t allow too much time to go by. Confrontation in marriage is important. Otherwise the issue will become cancerous and nibble at the core of your relationship. The marital relationship was really designed to encourage transparency. This encourages and develops trust and intimacy. Intimacy will give you a responsible freedom because you are able to trust one another. It is really important to pray for as well as with one another. In many cases there have been such poor marriage role models that you simply do not know what to do. Many people who are married are lonely. This really does not have to be. Don’t settle for a superficial relationship that is on for public view. Think about it God is always present! Learn to live on a deeper level. Learn to become sensitive to one another’s needs. Your needs are important but not to the extent that you overlook the needs of your spouse. Some needs have exclusively been reserved to be met only within marriage. This does not mean that you can, nor are you responsible for the fulfillment of all of their needs.
Don’t just assume that your spouse knows something, or is happy or….. Many have just not learned the benefits of being open in marriage. (This is not at all the same as having an open marriage. In that case why marry at all?) It takes time to develop and build effective communication. How well do you really know this person you have committed to? Being open is the catalyst that ajars the door for developing effective communication. One must learn to listen as well, in order to effectively communicate. Don’t think short term, think long term. Get to know this person that you have committed to love, honor and …….. Or was that too just for the people? Don’t always mentally construct your response or rebuttal as you listen. Let it be your goal to attentively listen to whatever your spouse or anyone is trying to convey to you. If you are really interested in improving your relationship you must also learn how to listen. Taking the time to listen attentively to how your spouse feels validates that you care, value and are genuinely concerned about them. This helps them to open up. Remember, God intended for your spouse to be your “helpmeet”. Listening effectively is an art. The next time you talk to them really listen. Check yourself out and see how well you listen? If necessary repeat what they have said to confirm you heard correctly what they were trying to convey. Don’t always personalize everything they say. This will help you dispel erroneous and distorted conclusions or assumptions. Effective listening says you really want to hear what is being conveyed.
A good strong marriage or any other relationship for that matter consists of good communication. You do not have to agree with what is being conveyed. Sometimes just being a sounding board is necessary. You want to create an environment in which you do not have to feel like you are walking on egg shells. A major complaint in marriage is that my spouse does not understand me. Do you understand your spouse? Don’t make it a habit of always waiting until you are angry to fuel your ability to say how you feel. Plan ahead a time when you together can talk about whatever concerns you. Here is the opportunity to acquire some self-control skills. Think about it. Flying off the handle is really letting someone control you by remote. In this case your emotions only get the best of you and you impulsively say a lot of stuff that you can’t take back. You have actually stored it up, and bottled it up, to the point that it has fermented and become toxic. When this is the case it often results in flaring hot tempers which just usually yields more hurt feelings. If this is the case change is necessary in order to develop a healthier way to communicate.
The scriptures tell us “to be angry and sin not.” God does not tell us to do something that is not possible. Think about it now that you are calm and centered. Your feelings are important; they do need to be validated. Exercising self control strengthens your ability to not let your feelings control you. You should really want to create an environment where both of you can openly share how you feel. You also want to be able to freely express yourself even when you don’t agree about something. When you are always usually fueled by anger to express yourself it often leads to a breakdown or barrier in the relationship. Please don’t use that “nobody’s perfect” excuse to justify your ranting and ravings. Self control is a virtue. This does not mean that you stuff how you feel and just let any and everyone walk over you. It means that the majority of the time you choose to decide how you want to respond or not respond or simply just overlook. Rather than to just simply react. Don’t make everything an issue. Just observe what happens when and if you go off. Does it get the results you want? Do you really feel better? Or in fact have you just created another barrier? Sometimes no one wants to confront you and tell you if this is the way you are… Confrontation is a healthy part of communication. Constructive criticism really is a good thing. Getting the Lord involved always helps. He is always there. But you are given the free will to choose. You build self control as you exercise it in your life. This also helps to foster an environment in which you can build a healthier stronger marriage. Don’t ever take one another for granted. If you have; change it. You do not have to continue to live with dysfunction. The correct way to point the finger is in both directions. The good thing about God it’s never too late to change. Are you happy with the way that you communicate with your spouse? Is there room for improvement? Take some time and think about it? There is always room for improvement. Don’t let pride take the forefront in your relationship.
About the Author:
DeBorrah K. Ogans is a licensed Pastoral Counselor and ordained minister. She is certified through the Sarasota Academy of Christian Counseling in Creation Therapy and holds a Master’s Degree in Biblical Clinical Counseling. DeBorrah is a Co-Founder along with her husband Randall of "Alpha 7 Ministries". She is the author of a pre-marital guide “How Do I Love Thee: Things You Need To Know Before You Say I Do”, and has released her second book "Holy Matrimony: Now That You're Married".
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