Anyone who has been successfully married for a long time will tell you that the real secret to a strong, vibrant marriage is having strong and vibrant communication with your spouse. You do not need to be able to finish each others sentences, but what you do need to know is when to listen and when it is ok to try to “fix” things – when it is ok to to give your spouse their private space and when then really need you to just be there and hug them.
When marriages start to go wrong, it is because the communication in the marriage is going wrong. So why is it that communication so very often goes wrong in a marriage. Well it just so happens that being a counselor and pastor, I am uniquely qualified to share with you many ways that communication goes wrong.
To begin, the longer people are married, the more they begin to feel that communication does not matter as much. The hard part – finding someone and getting married – is over and now you can coast. Nothing could be further from the truth. Communication is just as important 40 years into a marriage as it is from day one. When we begin to take our spouses for granted and start making assumptions, the quicker we will run towards problems. God made your brain in such a way that it’s primary job is to protect you and keep you ready for dangerous situations. Therefore, when you are running 30 minutes late at work and you do not bother to call your spouse and tell them, then their brain fills in this missing information with things like -“they were probably in a horrific car wreck and cannot call me, because if they could call me, they would.” This one is popular as well, “They must be out cheating on me. I have noticed they do not talk me to as much as they used to so I must not be as appealing to them today as I used to be and they must have found someone more appealing.” Your brain tells you this to actually prepare you for the worst, not to hurt you. As well, that old, evil Satan loves to jump in there and whisper all kinds of negative thoughts at you to see what sticks.
As you can see, communication with our spouses can help us to stop these kinds of experiences from happening, and all it ever takes is a simple phone call or text to let them know what is going on. Just imagine if your child was late and did not call or text – you would be worried right? Same with your spouse.
Another way communication breaks down is when we do not clarify before we start communicating. Before my wife and I sit down to ask each other about our days, I always first ask her, “Honey do you need for me to fix anything here or do you just need me to listen and be present?” That simple sentence saves us both potential heartache in huge ways. If she is expecting me to just listen and I keep trying to fix everything for her, she will get upset. If she is expecting me to help fix things and I do not because I assume she has it all under control, then she is again going to be upset. It only takes a minute to clarify what is needed from your communication before you even start to help you to stop potential issues from occurring.
Next up, being too tired or too lazy or too fearful to communicate is a sure fire way to upset your spouse. You come home from a long day at work and are just ready to chill out for the evening and not be engaged in a lot of heavy conversation, but your spouse has had a difficult day and needs you to be engaged with them. You can choose to just go in the other room, or avoid the conversation, but this will only lead to them getting upset. Instead why not simply tell them the truth – right this moment, you are not at your best and they deserve your best. So let them know you need a few hours to unwind and then set a specific time when you two can sit down and have that talk. This way everyone wins.
These are just a few ways that communication can break down and cause serious problems within a marriage. I could go on for days and days with ways that poor or nonexistent communication can and will damage your marriage.
I have counseled enough people to know that when the communication is good, the marriage will be good as well.
If you and your spouse struggle with communication, let me urge you to give us call here at God’s Light Christian Counseling and let us help you to put your communication back on track and get the issues put where they belong, far away from you both!
May God bless,
Pastor Brad Komgenick
Founder and Chief Counselor
God’s Light Christian Counseling