Posted by: Derek Guyer | July 14, 2008

Talk With Your Spouse Tip #8


We’ve received some pretty tough emails recently from couples really struggling with communication. You can tell how frustrated these husbands and wives are with their spouses, and the fights and negativity are ripping at the fabric of the marriage.

Amazingly, Satan has been using simple communication problems to hurt marriages for a long time. He starts with a pinch to the arm and within days, weeks, months, or years of unfocused communication, he’s got you both stabbing each other in the back. He’s brutal this way.

I learned a long time ago how to stop this in its tracks. I watched my dad, a minister in the church, do this with people quite often. He didn’t retaliate when something stupid was said. He didn’t yell or get defensive. He remained calm. In fact, if the conversation was happening in front of other people, he would gently ask the person to step in another room to talk. He would then proceed to make a defense for what he had done or explain his position further. He was determined not to take the poor communication to another low.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Proverbs 15:1 NIV

If you or your spouse is determined to yell, maybe it’s time for you to change the pace of the conversation. Give a gentle answer.

I have personally found that I can say something very candidly in a very calm and quiet tone and not shut a person down. It’s not just the tone, though. It’s the heart of it. Are your comments self-seeking? Are they brutal to your spouse’s ego or self-esteem? Is there a better way to say the thing that you think needs to be said? If you can say it better or gently, try it. I bet you’ll be surprised at the response. If you don’t get immediate responses to this method, be patient. It may take a few times for you to prove you’re serious about staying calm, instead of engaging the conversation at an insulting and heated level.

We’ll be held accountable for everything we say, whether by our spouse or by our God. It would be wise to take serious consideration of your words now, rather than later.

Communication Tip: Chill out and change the tone of things.


Responses

  1. Derek, you are really blessed to have had such a good role model in this area! I entered marriage and family with a lot of miscommunication baggage. My dad was notorious for “ranting” for hours (yeah, hours) when something set him off. I did not learn good patterns of communication for relationships.

    I would just encourage folks to make a commitment to making progress in this area–it is vital! I pray a lot about what comes out of my mouth. I pray for wisdom and especially for self-control. Doing it right is only possible through the power of Jesus Christ; I cannot emphasize that enough.

    “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

    Blessings,
    Cindy

  2. Great thoughts, Cindy.

    I’m amazed at the difference it makes for couples who commit to good communication. We all walk into marriage with certain ideas of how to talk and communicate and it’s incredible how much of communication needs to be taught. We could stop a lot of problems very quickly if we understood how to communicate.

  3. You are right on Derek,
    Gentle, respectful communication is so key to a successful marriage. Words and outbursts that are based on anger, are like poison to a marriage. Once the words come out of your mouth, you cannot put them back in. The damage is already done.

    “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” -Prov. 12:18

    I am learning that when I start feeling angry and want to lash out, I will stop and take a couple of deep breaths to clear my head before I speak. It really helps me.

    Cindy is right that this can only be done through Jesus.


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