Ever notice when you’re dating somebody, you can talk effortlessly for hours, but if you have been married a while, unless you work at it, conversation can become superficial and even lead to disagreements? The Bible says, ‘Be willing to listen and slow to speak.’ (James 1:19 NCV) There is an art to communicating.
(1) Look for opportunities to compliment one another. You may think your partner is wonderful, but they need to hear you say it frequently. It takes twelve compliments to neutralise the effect of one criticism, so when life beats your mate down, build them up.
(2) Don’t try to change them by nagging. Questions like, ‘Why can’t you?’ or ‘Why do you always?’ can sound more like parenting than partnering. Tell your partner once—not a thousand times—what’s bothering you. And before you speak, ask yourself, ‘Would I say this to a valued friend?’ If not, don’t say it!
(3) A marriage can only stand so much ‘soul-baring’. As a rule, shorter is better. ‘Honey, can we talk for a few minutes?’ is less threatening than the ominous, ‘We need to talk’ announcement. People can only stand so much ‘soul-baring’; pressuring them just gets the wrong result. If your spouse is unresponsive on an issue, discuss it with a trusted friend or counsellor. Then give your spouse the condensed, less emotional version.
(4) Let your mate lead. When your spouse is talking about things you’re not particularly interested in, remember the Scripture, ‘Submit to one another.’ (Ephesians 5:21 NIV) Sometimes that means asking, ‘What would you like to talk about?’ If you want a good marriage, use those four principles every day.