My wonderful husband hails from the Philippines and we will celebrate 19 years of marriage this coming June. Woo Hoo!! When he came to America over 25 years ago, he knew a little English, but not much. Probably about as much Spanish as I recall from school, muy poco! He quickly learned the language through being immersed in the culture, though. Trial and error were his greatest teachers, I’m sure. When we met in 1994, he was very fluent in English, so I was reasonably confident we would speak the same language once we married.
That was the first error in my thinking. The fact is that men and women think very differently! Men think in patterns of fact, reason and logic. Women think in patterns of feelings, emotions and illogic based on such feelings and emotions. (These are general statements, of course.) And, after a couple is married for some time, it seems one is supposed to have the super power of reading minds! These factors make for an interesting basis from which we are to convey our thoughts and make wise decisions.
Communication is key to any relationship. I think we’d all agree on that fact. And, marriage is no exception.
So, why is it that this important facet of our marriage is so difficult to attain?
We are a distracted society! Between television, internet, cell phones, radio, work demands, financial pressures, the kids, and on and on it goes … There’s no wonder we find the task of communicating to be so daunting! There is a remedy, however.
We must set aside a regular time to sit down, look our spouse in the eye and relate the things on our heart.
One recommendation I read years ago was to establish a “couch time” when your husband comes home from work in the evening. This time is off limits to the kids for, say 15 minutes. (Depending on the ages of your children, this may or may not be feasible) I thought this was a good idea and we did try it for a while.
Another important idea is to never stop dating your spouse!
Complacency can easily set in and we need to freshen things up a bit. For us, we try to schedule a “Date Night” once a month, at least. Some months we are more successful than others, but that’s our goal. There’s something special about dressing up (even if it’s just a pair of jeans and a nice sweater) and being able to speak in complete sentences without interruption!
Our pastor said this recently and I thought it is worth repeating:
“Fight to understand, not to win.”
That means no name calling, no “You always do this” or “You never do that”, or “I wish you could be like so-and-so’s husband”. Stick to the facts. All healthy relationships have conflict. And it is worth the effort to effectively convey your thoughts and feelings to broach difficult subjects.
One illusion many people have is that they can change their spouse. Nothing could be further from the truth! God made each of us with a free will that is not easily swayed.
The best remedy for lingering struggles is prayer. That may seem like a pat answer, but the truth remains. When we don’t have the answers, it is through prayer that we can ask God for breakthrough, wisdom and guidance.
We invest our resources in many things over our lifetime. Our marriages are certainly worthy of investing our time, energy, understanding and affection. A godly marriage is one of the greatest relationships we can model before our children. It’s important for them to realize that despite conflict, love overcomes. Love wins! So, here’s to effective communicating! It requires hard work and much effort, but it will yield dividends out of this world!
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” ~ I Corinthians 13:4-7