Summary: Discover how good communnication restores hope for marriage.
This morning, we conclude our message series, Restoring Hope for Marriage. I thought we would have two more messages, one on conflict resolution and the other on intimacy. But after reflecting on the previous five messages and on today’s message, I realized we’ve covered the basic skills and attitudes to restore a broken relationship and to foster closeness in that relationship, as far as it depends on us.
Our final topic is communication. Communication can be a source of disappointment or a source of joy in marriage. A lack of communication causes the husband and wife to drift apart. And poor communication leads to misunderstandings. Misunderstandings in turn can lead to a series of conflicts and hurts. Good and regular communication, on the other hand, can build a strong and intimate marriage and resolve conflicts before they become a negative relational pattern in marriage.
Communication involves more than conversation, but conversation is a significant part of communication, conflict resolution and intimacy. In fact, many wives experience a greater sense of intimacy through conversation than through sex. Yet both husbands and wives will benefit tremendously by improving their verbal communication skills.
James 1:19 will provide the outline for our message on communication.
James’ letter to the church addresses how the Christian’s relationship with God affects his or her relationship with others, and not just one hour a week in a building called “church.” Our relationship with God colors the way we see life, what we say, how we say it, what goals we have in life, how we arrive at these goals and how we relate to others, both the rich and the poor.
Communication is also God’s idea and is central to life with others. Communication is what enables relationship to take place, whether with God, with our coworkers or with our spouse. While the context for this morning’s passage addresses how we can benefit from responding to God’s Word, the same principles apply to how we can benefit from responding to our spouse’s words. Let’s look together at how to become a better communicator.
First, to become a better communicator, we must learn to become a good listener. “Everyone should be quick to listen …”
In school, we are taught to read and write, and maybe to speak. But rarely are we taught to listen. Some of us end up with the false belief that listening is for those who don’t have anything important to say or who are not articulate. We need to discard that false belief.
We need to know how to listen and what to listen for. Only then will we know how to respond to what we hear and gain valuable information, knowledge or wisdom. And in marriage, when we listen well, we know how to respond to our spouse and create a rich and meaningful relationship. There are at least four considerations to help us listen well.
When we listen, listen for God. We can listen for God when we pray, but we can also listen for God when you speak with others, including your spouse. God’s Spirit is in Christians, bringing biblical truth into our minds at the appropriate time. We can miss God’s help if we don’t listen for Him.
This past week was very exhausting. On top of the weekly responsibilities, I moved into our new home. On Wednesday Clifford helped me load and unload three vans full of things over to our new home. I loaded and unloaded another three vans full of things on my own before Saturday’s move of the furniture.
As I dragged my tired body around during the week, I said to Susan, “I wish I were as strong as Clifford. He didn’t even break a sweat.”
Susan replied, “But you’re cute.”
I rolled my eye and said, “Cute doesn’t help move things.”
Susan came back with, “Yeah, but you move me.”
I didn’t say it then, but that made me smile inside. I sensed God’s Spirit affirm, “I gave your wife to encourage you.” In conversation with our spouse, we must remember that not only is our spouse speaking to us, but God is also speaking to us. Otherwise, we can miss what God wants to do through our spouse’s words, whether to encourage us or to admonish us.
Sometimes God’s Spirit may say, “Put her interest before your own.” Other times, God’s Spirit may say, “Here’s your chance to bring out the best in him.” Or God may say, “Let it go. Vengeance is mine; I will repay.”
What else do we listen for? Listen for what is being said. Don’t let the obvious get by you. Many husbands are watching TV, reading the newspaper or working on the computer while trying to carry on a conversation with their wife. Other times, we are not listening to one another but we are busy composing our response to what we think we heard. Either way, we don’t hear what is really being said.