Excerpt from An online Course: Where God puts two hearts in a home
How does being a Christian influence our communication with one another in marriage? There are four interesting scenarios captured below depicting communication between married couples. As you read the scenarios, ask yourself the following questions:
- Was this effective communication?
- Was this Christlike communication?
- Was this both effective and Christlike?
Scenario One: Ed lets the front door slam behind him and stomps to the kitchen to glare at Mary, who‘s making dinner. He pauses for a moment, then says accusingly, I thought I told you to meet me at the store at 5 p.m. What‘s your problem? Is that too hard? I waited an hour for you. Mary turns from the stove to look angrily back at him. I was at the store at 5 p.m., idiot! You never showed up!
Ed raises an eyebrow, scowling darkly. And what store was that?
Mary‘s hands rest on her hips. ―Kroger‘s, of course. That‘s where I always shop.
Well, Sam‘s is the one closest to my office! Ed shouts. You should have known I would meet you there. Thanks. Thanks for wasting an hour of my day!
Would you agree that Ed and Mary‘s communication was neither effective nor Christlike? Mary misunderstood Ed‘s instructions, so effective communication did not occur. Not only did they misunderstand each other, but they were also not Christlike in the way that they interacted. Unfortunately, however, there was one thing that they did communicate effectively. What was it? It was Ed‘s and Mary‘s disrespect and contempt for one another.
Let‘s take a look at a second scenario.
Scenario Two: Mary arrives at Sam‘s at exactly 5 p.m. and walks up to the entrance, where Ed is waiting. Hurry up, Mary, he says. I don‘t have all day. I‘ve been waiting for you here for ten minutes already! Mary blinks, confused. But… didn‘t you say to meet you here at 5 p.m? she asks. So what? I told you, I‘ve already been here ten minutes. You should have come earlier, just in case.
In this dialogue, there is no misunderstanding. Ed effectively communicates that he and Mary were to meet at 5 p.m. (even though he arrived early). Unfortunately, he also effectively communicates his disrespect for Mary. Thus, in this example, even though effective communication occurs, Christlike communication does not.
Let‘s evaluate a third scenario.
Scenario Three: Ed closes the door behind him and makes his way to the kitchen, where Mary is preparing dinner. He sets his briefcase down by the wall. Hi, honey. Mary looks up at him with a little smile. Hi. Glad you‘re home. Thanks… Ed‘s expression is slightly confused. Weren‘t we supposed to meet at the store at 5p.m.? I waited for you for quite a while.
I‘m so sorry! Mary exclaims with an apologetic look. I don‘t know what happened. I did get there at 5 p.m., and I looked everywhere for you. But when I didn‘t find you, I figured I must have misunderstood, so I just came home again. Well… what store did you wait at? Ed asks, puzzled. Kroger‘s. The one we usually shop at. Ed blinks, then laughs. No wonder we didn‘t find each other! I went to Sam‘s. It‘s the closest store to my office, so I meant for you to meet me there. But I didn‘t say that… and I can see why you thought I meant Kroger‘s. I‘m so sorry I didn‘t communicate that more clearly. He reaches for her hand with a hopeful, sincere expression. Forgive me for wasting your time? Mary smiles back at him. Of course I forgive you. She shakes her head. I should have asked for clarification instead of just assuming that I knew where you meant for us to meet.
This time, Ed does not communicate effectively with Mary about where to meet, but they are both clear and Christlike in what they say and in how they say it afterward. They communicate respect and regard for each other as they discuss a misunderstanding that could have turned into an argument.
Let‘s investigate one more scenario.
Scenario Four: Right at 5 p.m., Mary arrives at Sam‘s and walks up to the entrance, where Ed is waiting for her. She smiles and greets him with a hug. Hi, honey. Have you been here for very long? Ed smiles back at her. I‘ve been here a while, but don‘t worry about it. You‘re right on time. Thanks so much for meeting me. Ready to go inside?
Did you notice that, in this scenario, Ed and Mary have been both effective and Christlike in their communication?
Clarity in communication is very important, because when you misunderstand each other, it may lead to various problems. But when you are both Christlike in your communication, it enhances your relationship, even when your communication is not perfect. Although it is important to be effective in your communication, it is paramount to be Christlike! Jesus Christ the Master Communicator is our role model when it comes to communication in Marriage.
We are encouraged to fix our eyes on Jesus Christ, the master communicator for one to learn to be a Christlike and effective communicator in marriage. Let’s see how Jesus Christ communicated while He was here on earth.
Jesus Does Not Allow Negative Circumstances to Influence His Communication. Please read Luke 23:32-43.It is so easy to allow circumstances to affect how you treat the people around you. If you are stressed from a bad day, for instance, you might lash out and then rationalize that your selfish behavior was caused by the circumstances of the day. Many people bottle up their frustrations at work, and then dump them on their families at home. But there is always a choice. Circumstances do not choose your responses. You choose your responses. Jesus, in the midst of His grueling pain, speaks tenderly and with assurance to a repentant dying man. What a tender example He sets for us. Could your day be any worse than hanging on a cross? Of course not. Jesus shows that no matter what you are going through, you can still choose to communicate in a kind and compassionate way just as He did.
Jesus’ Communication Springs From His Moment-by-Moment Communication With His Father. The following verses all illustrate this principle: John 5:19, 22; 6:38; 8:26, 28-29; 14:9-11; 17:4. Please read at least three of them. Have you ever noticed in the gospel of John how many references talk about Jesus living in moment-by moment communion with His Father? Ultimately, this is how believers are to live as well. How would your communication with your spouse be different, if like Jesus, you determined to be constantly listening to the Father‘s voice and to be speaking what the Holy Spirit prompts you? There is no greater goal in marriage communication than this.
Jesus Communicates Scripture From the Heart. Please read Matthew 4:1-11….Jesus communicated the Scripture that was in His heart. The Bible says that out of the heart man speaks (Mt 12:34-35). What is in your heart when you communicate with your spouse? Is it based on the principles found in Scripture? You will know what is in your heart by what comes out of your mouth. If there are some things in your heart that you would like to get rid of, one excellent way to do it is to read, memorize and live the Word of God.
Jesus Is Not Afraid to Show His Vulnerable Emotions.Please read John 11:1-44, especially verses 33-35. In the passage from John, we see that Jesus is not afraid to cry. Jesus models that true strength is demonstrated partly in one‘s willingness to become vulnerable. In marriage, communication is hindered when one or both partners are unable to express their deepest feelings. Sometimes couples are so out of touch with their own emotions that they cannot possibly communicate how they feel. At other times, a spouse may be unwilling to share vulnerable feelings for fear of rejection. If you are a person who has learned that showing emotion is a sign of weakness, allow the example of Jesus to motivate you to begin to express your true feelings to your spouse.
Jesus Communicates Humility and Servant hood. Please read John 13:1-17. Has the thought ever occurred to you that the same spirit of servant hood, which compelled Jesus to wash the feet of His disciples should compel your communication with your spouse? After He communicates with His disciples through His poignant demonstration of servant hood, He tells them (and us) to follow in His steps. Is this spirit of humility evident when you communicate with your spouse? Humility and servant hood are so vital in all areas of our marriages.
Jesus Knows How and When to Keep Silent. Please read Isaiah 53:7 and 1 Peter 2:21-25. Sometimes a vital part of communication in marriage is to keep your mouth shut. One time that this might be important is when you feel under attack from your spouse, or when you have tried but cannot convince your spouse to share your point of view. Sometimes it is the wrong time to share your point of view, because your spouse is not receptive. In the Scripture you read, it is incredible to think that Jesus remained silent in the midst of an unjust personal attack. How was He able to silently endure it all? The key for Him and for you is found in 1 Peter 2:23. He left His case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. If you truly trust your life and your circumstances to the Father‘s care, you will have no need to verbally defend yourself, to retaliate, or to seek revenge. You will be able to trust that one day all wrongs will be made right and all things will be judged fairly, both in your marriage and in the world.