In all my years of counseling married couples, I found that there were many people that loved one another, loved God, and yet, couldn’t stay together.
What went wrong? They could not communicate the heart of their issues.
Early in my marriage, this was true for me too. When my wife and I went to marriage counseling, 90 percent of what we had to learn was how to communicate what we really thought and felt in a way that didn’t attack or wound one another.
What does it truly mean to communicate?
You might be surprised to learn that communication is not talking. Communication is getting what’s in your heart, into the heart and mind of your mate. Another definition might be: “The meeting of meanings.”
Norman Wright says, “Communication is the privilege of exchanging vulnerabilities.” And by the way, “vulnerable” means “open to wounds.” Therefore, great communication is always risky and often painful before it gets good.
Norman Wright also says, “Communication is the process of sharing yourself verbally and nonverbally in such a way that the other person can both accept and understand what you are saying.”
Many times, we do things unintentionally which completely shuts down the communication process. We could be saying one thing, but our body, our presence, our face, our tone of voice, and even our eyes can communicate something completely different. We need to be aware of our non-verbal expressions of communication as much as our verbal communication.
The truth is, most of us did not grow up with models where people communicated clearly and well.
Thankfully, God has provided us with principles in His Word that can transform the communication we have in our homes.
It starts with being honest. We need to speak the truth in love.
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ… (Ephesians 4:15)
Speaking the truth isn’t hard. Speaking in love isn’t hard. But speaking the truth in love requires tremendous Spirit directed capacity.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. (v. 25)
In this passage, “your neighbor” refers to other Christians – and this includes your spouse. We’re not separate units but intimately related to one another in Christ.
This means we need to stop pretending when we’re trying to communicate. It means we don’t lie and we begin to talk honestly about areas that are in conflict and areas where we’re dissatisfied or feel wounded. We also need to speak the truth in a way where the other person can hear it. Our conversations need to be couched with, “I’m not down on you.”
Remember, unless we’re honest with our spouse, we won’t grow and we won’t ever be truly communicating.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip