At the end of a grueling hard day’s work, how many of us head home to look for that place of refuge. Instead we are met at the door by our loved ones and, without warning, get that last quart of energy SAPPED away with, “Hey babe, you mind starting with the kitchen painting now.” Then of course, we retaliate with much ‘love and compassion’, “MAN! Let me catch my breath! I just walked in the door!” Well, that outburst just destroyed the video date night and before you know it, the evening is ruined.
Ok, it hurts when our good works go unnoticed. But it’s a blow to the mid-section when our spouses are not connected to our life issues. We protest, “They should understand!” Well, that’s our first mistake. We forget that neither of us was born equipped with the ability to be professional listeners or communicators. It’s a learned behavior and it takes time to develop good communication habits.
There have been many trials and errors with me and Drea’s communication. Over the years we have learned the importance of investing into this area. We frequently enroll in marriage courses and have talked to mentors and friends to help us communicate more effectively. I discovered how useless ‘lip service and pointing the finger’ are and how using more ‘ears and heart’ began to soften her heart towards me.
My first breakthrough came when I read a Steven Covey quote that said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” That was a tough, because I was challenged to listen to her point first, rather than think of a rebuttal as she was speaking. After I heard her all the way through, I could see her point and, as we communicated about the ‘real’ issues, we often forgot why we were arguing in the first place.
Then came the lesson of all lessons – empathetic listening. This is us attempting to put ourselves in the other’s shoes to try to understand how each person is feeling. The emphatic listening really communicates love to Drea. I am not only understanding her, but relating with her based on similar issues I have encountered in my own life.
This is similar to our relationship with Jesus (Heb 4:15-16). Jesus wanted us to know that he understood and related to all of our issues. As married folks, living under Jesus’ blood stained banner of love, our goal should be to love beyond ourselves to reach our spouses. Remember, no matter how things may seem in the heat of a discussion, ‘your spouse is not the enemy’. The enemy is the one who seeks to destroy marriages and bring discord into home. Don’t let him into your house!!! And if he is already there… KICK HIM OUT!!!
This is a challenging area in marriage, but when it is pursued in love and faith, it brings healing and satisfaction into our relationships. After almost fifteen years of marriage, Drea and I are still making strives to maintain our intimacy. We’re constantly reaching beyond ourselves to serve, respect, forgive and discover new things about each other during each new season of our lives. We get our intimacy from what we have learned through our relationship with Jesus and use it on each other.
Relationship is an investment. Take your communication to the next level!