My wife loves to talk…and talk…and talk. It’s not rare for us to talk about a talk that we’ve recently had. In contrast, I’ve always felt a certain disadvantage when it comes to communication. In the early days of marriage, I had serious challenges communicating when my wife and I had disagreements, which was rather often.
My M.O. in times of trouble consisted of avoiding “the talk,” and if all else failed, shutting down. Now, this would surprise even me because, being in sales, I talk for a living. I really did not know how to communicate when things were rough.
I would feel a paralysis that I could not explain. So I would become defensive and hide my heart and feelings, and often go through “the talk” while strategically protecting myself.
As the years have gone by, I have gotten somewhat better at this communication thing. I have learned these 3 things from my wife, who happens to be an expert.
1. Communication in marriage is a heart thing.
In good times and in rough times, through the exciting stuff and the mundane, my wife wants to share her heart. She wants to know my heart, and she loves it when I show that I want to know hers. (Note to self: It is not enough to want to know her heart; I have to show it. But why…? Just do it.)
Marriage requires marriage-level communication, and M-Level communication needs an engaged heart. My wife will always be more emotionally intelligent, and that means that what comes easily to her may be a jigsaw puzzle for me. I have to figure out what I’m feeling, then find the words, then be brave enough to share it. I’m so glad she has come to understand this.
2. Communication in marriage is a mind thing.
I learned quickly that this is more my need and less hers. Logic can be incredibly dangerous in times of heated discussion. I tried to use it often. The results were less than desirable.
Remember the note to self? When I tried to makes sense of things using the almighty logic, without sharing my heart and – more importantly – showing that I care about hers, it would have disastrous results.
Be that as it may; I still need things to make sense. Instead of settling in my confusion, I’m learning that asking, “How do you feel about ______?” will often lead me to the answer to “How in the world did you end up at that conclusion!!!?”
Studies are still ongoing, but I have a feeling that this is why married guys would tell me, “Your wife is always right.”
3. Communication in marriage is a trust thing.
More than anything, I’ve learned that I have a deep-seated need to know that my wife is on my side, and it turns out that she has the very same need. The more I believe that she’s on my side, the more I can trust her with my poorly communicated feelings. The more I expose the puzzle pieces, the more they make sense, even to me.
This guy, Peter, was onto something:
In the same way you married men should live considerately with [your wives], with an intelligent recognition [of the marriage relation]. (1 Peter 3:7a AMP)
Peter was a fisherman; he wanted to call fire from heaven and walk on water like a superhero. He chopped a guy’s ear off when he got too close to his best friend. As a man, I understand Peter, and I feel like Peter knows what he’s talking about. I’ll listen to Peter.
About the author:
Tom Otiende is married to Ngina Otiende who ministers to early-wed wives at IntentionalToday.com.