Marriage communication tip #1

You might recall the opening theme to the original Superman TV series.  The announcer proclaims that Superman is “faster than a speeding bullet”. Well, God has been showing me how a part of me is also faster than a speeding bullet….and can cause as much damage as a live round of ammunition.  That part of me is my mouth!

You may have the same challenge as me.  Do you often get impatient when your husband is trying to express himself and end up finishing his sentences? I do.  Do you interrupt your husband when he pauses mid-sentence?  I do.  Do you sometimes jump in and tell him how he should handle something as he’s trying to explain a challenging situation?  I do.  Do you get frustrated with him and react with harsh, disrespectful words that you can’t take back?  Hmmm. 

Let’s pray that God would give us the ability to be good listeners, patient talkers, and respectful communicators!  This is definitely God’s will for us, as revealed in James 1:19:  “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”   The first step is to coach ourselves at the beginning of conversations with our husbands.  Remind your soul…”I will honor the Lord and my husband by listening quietly and responding respectfully”…”listening quietly, responding respectfully”…”listening quietly, responding respectfully”…(repeat as necessary!!).

How encouragement changes your man

I was reminded again the other day about how much impact my words have on my husband.  I was having a super frustrating day and I was kind of sharp with my husband.  He seemed to withdraw emotionally and within moments, he physically removed himself from the room.  Hmmm. 

Then fast forward to a different day, and I decided to purposely look for something good about my husband and to actually tell him about that “good” that I see in him.  The minute I did that, he got a little spring in his step.  His entire countenance changed.  Interestingly, he also seemed to be even more thoughtful and gentle toward me.  It was as if my encouragement and respect made him feel so much better about himself that he now felt secure enough to be kind and loving and patient with others. Wow!

This reminded me of the Lord’s instructions for us to encourage each other.  1 Thessalonians 5:11  “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”  We need encouragement, but so do our men!  When was the last time you intentionally looked for good qualities in your husband and told him about those things?  When was the last time you took note of him taking time to play with the kids, or handling a household chore without being told, or being kind to others?  

Let’s commit to building up our guys.  They need our steady encouragement, and we’ll also benefit as they begin to feel valued and respected.

— or view this topic as a 3 minute VIDEO BELOW

Easy way to create emotional intimacy

I wish I had known about the blessings of a fire pit a long time ago!  I had no idea that a fire pit could pave the way to more intimate, deep conversations than we routinely have in our marriage.  But I’ve discovered it’s true!  There’s something bonding and safe about sharing your deepest thoughts, feelings and dreams in the flickering light coming from your backyard fire pit.  Maybe it’s because it’s quiet and peaceful at night and, when sitting in front of the fire, we tend to talk in soft voices.  Proverbs 15:1 says “A soft answer turns away wrath…”  Well, maybe it’s that soft conversation in front of a fire that breaks down our defenses and helps us to open up.

We’ve built a fire pit in our backyard at our last 2 homes.  They cost less than $100.  We thought a fire pit would be fun for the grandchildren to toast marshmallows and roast hot dogs.  But it turned out that my husband and I enjoyed it just as much…for different reasons than the grandkids!    As the sun goes down, we light the fire, and then my husband asks what the topic of the night should be.  Sometimes, we talk about our dreams for ministry.  Some nights, we talk about our concerns for our children and we pray for them.  Other nights, we talk about our dream vacation ideas.  Try building or buying a fire pit.  You may be pleasantly surprised by the emotional intimacy you gain as a result!

P.S. Obviously, if there is a risk of wildfires in your area during dry summer months, you might want to use an inexpensive gas firepit as opposed to a wood-burning firepit that could toss embers and start a fire! 🙂

Power of your inner spouse-talk

We’ve all heard of self-talk, but allow me to introduce a different kind of internal narrative that can be just as negative as your self-talk. It is the internal talk about your spouse!

The things you say, whether out loud or in your head, greatly influence the way you feel and act.  In fact, Proverbs 18:21 says “the tongue has the power of life and death“.  In other words, when your inner spouse-talk is constantly pointing out your husband’s flaws or rehearsing the past ways he’s let you down…your words reinforce a negative attitude and behavior toward your husband.  If not corrected, this negative attitude and behavior on your part can eventually lead to prolonged bitterness, depression, and even the death of your marriage.

Ladies, we must do what the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:5…”take every thought captive“.  Start noticing the things you are saying in your head about your husband.  If a negative thought enters your mind, don’t give it room!  Instead, look for something positive to say about your husband.  He DOES have some positive qualities.  Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying your should ignore major sin in your husband’s life. You might need to ask him to make serious changes if he’s short-tempered or looking at porn or sitting around playing video games while you work your tush off. What I am saying is that we need to strive to look for the good in our husbands too. Make sure you spend more time engaging in positive inner spouse-talk than the negative kind!

View this topic as a 3 minute VIDEO BELOW

What he needs to feel loved

You’ve probably heard of the “Five Love Languages”.  It’s something Christian author and psychologist Gary Chapman figured out about how people are wired in terms of receiving love.  The love languages are:  words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, quality time, and gifts.  Well, here’s something I’ve learned after talking with many wives whose husbands have completed the love language assessment.  Almost all men have “physical touch” as one of their top 2 love languages.

Ladies, this means your husband craves not just sex, but little signs of physical affection throughout the day.  When you do these small things, he feels loved by you.  So, why wouldn’t you give him the physical affection that you know would bless him?  By purposely withholding what he needs to feel loved, could it be that we’re actually sinning?  Listen to what God says in James 4:17: “If anyone knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”  Oh my.

Here are several ideas on how you can communicate love through physical touch.  Reach out to hold his hand as you walk through the store.  Give him a 20 second neck and shoulder rub as you’re walking by.  Pinch his tush as he walks through the kitchen.  Lean over his shoulder while he’s on the computer and give him a kiss.  Rest your hand on his leg while you’re sitting together on the couch watching TV.  Run your fingers through his hair.  These small acts of physical touch are totally easy and yet they mean so much to most husbands. Try it!

Simple ways to show respect

If you’re a wife and a mom….life can get pretty busy!  If you’re a wife and mom and you work outside the home, well then life can be pretty chaotic and crazy!!

Sometimes in that busyness, we can get so caught up in chores and children that we unintentionally ignore our husbands!   So, here’s something I’m trying to remember to do.  When my husband enters the house after work, I’m trying to remember to actually pivot toward him and make eye contact.  I even try to throw in a smile as an extra bonus! Sometimes, I even take the 3 extra seconds to run over and give him a little kiss. J

I know this isn’t rocket science, but we often are so intent on our children or cooking or cleaning, that we don’t even glance our husband’s way.  That leaves him feeling unimportant and disrespected.  Remember, respect is a really big deal to men.  That’s why God instructs us in Ephesians 5:33, “The wife must respect her husband.”

So, give it a try.  Make eye contact with your husband when he comes home from work, and actually any time he enters a room you’re in.  Smile.  Make him feel happy to be in the same room you. He will feel more honored and respected. You will draw his heart to you and strengthen the bond between you. J

A man’s need to process requests

Have you ever noticed a blank look on your husband’s face when you suddenly bring up a heavy topic, voice a frustration, or ask him to change a behavior?  Or does your husband seem to get defensive very quickly in those moments?  I’m discovering that the reason for the blank look or the immediate defensiveness is because a man thinks differently than a woman!

Women process thoughts, ideas and feelings at lightning speed.  We are ready to engage in a deep conversation at the drop of a hat.  We can verbalize how we feel instantaneously!  Men, on the other hand, need time to process their thoughts and feelings.  So…..when we suddenly bring up a deep topic, or state how we feel, or ask them to make a change in behavior, or heaven forbid, ask them how they feel, our men become like the proverbial “deer in the headlights”!   Often they default to the blank look on the face or they become defensive because they feel pressured to do or say something, and they haven’t yet had a chance to think things through.

Here’s what I’m trying to learn to do.  I need to bring up a concern or state my feelings on an issue and then let my husband have some breathing room to process it.  I need to say “let’s talk more about this later after you’ve had a chance to think about it.”  Most men need some space to process their thoughts and feelings.  Maybe this is a good opportunity for us to practice patience!  Ponder these two Proverbs.  Proverbs 19:11  “A person’s wisdom yields patience…”  Proverbs 14:29 “Whoever is patient has great understanding….”

Avoid this communication pitfall!

How many times have you muttered to yourself “He should just KNOW!”.  Most wives have muttered this time and time again.  I know I have, and just the other day, my husband and I were counseling a couple where this communication pitfall rose to the surface so clearly.  She needed her husband to romance her a little before physical intimacy and he had no clue!  She started getting resentful.  He most definitely felt her cold shoulder, but was oblivious to the problem!!

Expecting your husband to know what you want and need without clearly telling him…is a common communication pitfall.  Unfortunately, your husband doesn’t just “know” because he doesn’t think like a woman and most men have no idea what a woman wants or needs from her husband.  We can’t assume our husbands know what we want!

Avoiding this communication pitfall is so easy.  As a wife, clearly, concisely, and directly tell your husband what you want. Clearly tell him what you need.  Let him know the specifics as well!  Let me give a simple example.  Let’s say you have company coming over and the house is a mess.  Plus, you’re trying to make a dessert to serve.  So, you’re feeling stressed.  Meanwhile, your husband is oblivious to your inner turmoil. He’s contentedly watching ESPN.  In most cases, the wife would finally say “Hey, can you vacuum the house please?”.  To which the husband says, “sure” and continues watching ESPN.  At this point, the wife blows a gasket in frustration.  Here’s the thing.  She didn’t give him the details of what she was asking for.  Instead of simply asking, “Can you vacuum?”, she needed to say “Can you vacuum right now?”  She needed to clearly spell out what she was asking for and when.

Clear, honest communication is a gift to your husband!  It reminds me of Proverbs 24:26 An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.

— or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

A wife’s need for talk & empathy

I went out to dinner with a couple girlfriends recently, and it was….ahhh…refreshing!  We talked and laughed and talked some more.  Words were flying around faster than a cheetah on steroids.  Even though I love talking with my husband, it was so delightful to have an extended chat with some females for a change, and thus, I’ve decided to become more intentional about scheduling get-togethers with other women.

How about you?  Do you have at least 2 deep friendships with other God-believing women? Do you have at least 2 women in your life who encourage you or make you laugh?  We NEED each other!  My husband cannot possibly meet all my relational needs.  Men aren’t wired the same as women.  In case you haven’t noticed.  Most women need to talk about all the things happening in their lives, and we need listeners who will empathize with us!  Most men are not wired to listen to a lengthy discussion and they generally aren’t wired to express a lot of empathy either.  But a good female friend can fill that void for you, and you can do the same for her.  We need another woman to speak sweet words of empathy and encouragement in a way that most men just don’t understand.  Proverbs 16:24 reminds us, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”

So, be intentional about making some solid female friendships.  Invite a woman from church or work to coffee.  Be a good listener yourself.  Ask her to tell you about herself, her children, her challenges, her successes, her spiritual gifts, her hobbies.  Be a good listener.  You’ll be on your way to developing a good friendship.

If husband seems headed wrong way

Sometimes, we will notice a trend in our husband’s behavior or reactions that are concerning.  He might not be engaged in something hugely sinful, but you are concerned about the harsh way he’s interacting with the kids or the resentment that he holds toward his boss, etc.  In other words, you fear that if he continues down that path, significant damage will be the result.  Hmmm.  What’s a wife to do in those moments where she senses her husband is headed the wrong way?

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but let me share two things that have been effective in my own relationship.  1)  Pray earnestly that God will convict your husband through the Holy Spirit so that your husband will see that he needs to make some changes.  Jesus makes it clear that one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to convict people when they are off track.  Jesus says of the Holy Spirit in John 16:8 “when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”  

2) If you feel like God is nudging you to talk to your husband about your observations, quietly come to your husband, take a humble posture by perhaps kneeling beside him while he’s sitting, and gently tell him of your concerns. However, don’t ONLY tell him of your concerns.  Take this opportunity to speak words of life to him.  Tell him about the good qualities you see in him.  Remind him that God is transforming him into a man who has Christ’s character, which is “gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8).  Tell him you’re proud of him for seeking to become more like Christ and for allowing God to mold and shape him.