Friday, December 5, 2014

"I can't get him to open up." "She won't hush!"

On Fridays I have started a series that is addressing the importance of modeling gospel driven marriages. God is the Architect of the brilliant plan to capture the hearts of the generations through His families (Malachi 4:6).

God has designed the family to be the channel to pass on His plan for redemption to the next generation (Genesis 12:1-3; Psalm 78:3-8). NBFamilies are working to discover providential opportunities where - traditional parents, single parents, grand parents, step parents, foster parents - can experience God’s life changing presence in their homes.

Let this sink in:
  • Our kid’s hearts are being shaped by observing our marriages.
  • Our kid’s faith is being influenced by observing how we treat each other as husband and wife.
  • Our kid’s faith, their ability to trust, their sense of safety and security, is either being bolstered or being destroyed every day, as they watch us.
  • Since marriage is a metaphor for God’s love for His church, (Ephesians 5:25-32) what are our kids learning as they study how we relate to one another?

Our kids observe how we speak to each other. They also evaluate how invested their parents are in one another, based upon how they perceive they communicate. Communication, especially in marriage, is so important that it is frequently addressed in Scripture. Read these passages to be reminded that the Bible extols the value of communication.

  • Proverbs 18:13;
  • Proverbs 29:11;
  • Proverbs 12:18;
  • Ephesians 4:24-27;
  • James 1:19
Communication isn’t easy. When communication is successful it involves self-revelation on the part of one individual and active listening on the part of another. Not only does communication take a lot of time and effort, it is the one factor that can make or break a marriage. Research tells us that most men are less likely to labor at communicating. Also, most wives have more words to express themselves than do their husbands. Further, wives are regularly frustrated when their husbands are reluctant to converse with them. Although the process can be difficult, it is worth the effort.
The bible expresses the highest value of exchanging truth and ideas. Successful communication between couples provides a solid foundation for long-term satisfaction and mutual nurture in marriage. Yet, as simple as it sounds, communicating so often misses its intended mark. When there are cracks in the communication foundation there will always be “settling,” and in most marriage scenarios, complete collapse. Spouses can attempt to communicate and then be completely misunderstood. One spouse expresses a message, they believe that they have communicated successfully, but the hearer will hear something else. In the next 2 weeks, we will uncover 7 reasons why communication can be unsuccessful.

The first 3 of 7 reasons why communication can be unsuccessful was posted two weeks ago. Read each one of these and give yourself a simple score (1 = I struggle with this habit - 5 = This is not a problem for me). If you score each bad communication habit, then you will know what you need to do to improve your communication. I would be a good idea for you to tell your spouse what you are learning about your personal bad communication habits and apologize if necessary. However, BE WARNED. It is dangerous, if you have bad communication habits, to blame your spouse. Accusing your spouse of being guilty and responsibility for unsuccessful communication, even though there will be some truth to the accusation, is a bad idea. You will be met with defensiveness, excuses, and withdrawal or stone-walling. Perhaps you could encourage your spouse to read this for themselves and do their own personal evaluation.

  1. Message Confusion: Message Confusion occurs when there is confusion between the verbal content and the nonverbal cue. (sighing, eye rolling, arm crossing, lips pursed, forehead wrinkled, etc.).
  2. Physical Distractions: Physical Distractions are those tangible, material issues that prohibit communication from being successfully transmitted.
    • Health Issues:
    • Speech Problems: .
    • Fatigue:
  3. Noise in the Environment: Noise in the environment has become an aggressively significant factor in destroying effective communication. Digital technology can cause spouses to be distracted by hundreds of channels - CNN, FOX, MSNBC - 24 hour news, ESPN 24 hour sports, movies on demand, Hulu, Netflix, Apple TV. No one would have imagined that people would be carrying around an electronic instrument in their purses and pockets that can:
    • Stream video content (YouTube).
    • Send private text messages.
    • Receive private social media requests (Facebook, ).
    • Search for and troll former romantic interests
    • View pornography.
    • Read news information.
    • Play fantasy sports games with friends.
    • Play hundreds of video games.
    • Write and read email.
    • Look at and send photographs
    • Modify photographs so that they will look their best.
    • Enroll privately in dating websites and flirt with and entertain conversations with other “singles.”
    • Etc. etc. etc,


  4. Beliefs and expectations:The power of beliefs and expectations is well researched. Research has demonstrated that human beings have an inconceivable propensity to see in others what they believe and expect to see. If they believe strongly about something, either positive or negative beliefs, they will transfer those feelings and opinions into a relationship or conversation that has no basis in present fact. Usually humans are not aware that they are influencing others’ behaviors, either positive or negative, by their own beliefs and expectations. But they are!
    If your spouse accidentally forgets a date that is significant to you (birthday, anniversaries of noteworthy events, etc.), do you look forward to the next significant date with anticipation or with trepidation? Typically, you will dread the next significant date because you believe they will forget and expect to be disappointed.

    If your spouse asks, “Are you hungry?,” do you look forward to a romantic dinner at an nice restaurant, or do you assume they are wanting you to get up, go into the kitchen, and cook them something to eat? Typically, your answer to the question, “Are you hungry?” is going to be based upon what you believe and expect from your spouse.

    • Would you snarl, “Why is it always my job to make you food?”
    • Or would you flirtatiously reply, “Yum, I love it when you take me to ____________ (insert favorite, romantic restaurant here).”
    Your answer is based entirely on you own beliefs and expectations. If your spouse is thinking, “I wonder which nice restaurant I can take my love out to express my love and appreciation?” And you snarl, “Why is it always my job to make you food?” What is your negative belief and expectation going to do to your spouse’s plans for a romantic dinner? You both will likely be not eating at all, or eating alone that night.
    Married people can significantly enhance satisfaction or dissatisfaction depending upon their beliefs and expectations of the one to whom they are married. It is the task of each spouse to listen to a comment, and direct their beliefs and expectations in a positive direction. It is the duty of each spouse to pay attention to a remark, and focus his or her beliefs and expectations in an affirmative way.
  5. Communication Styles: There are several types of communication styles. Some are talkative and others are quiet. Some are too wordy and others are less likely to speak. Some speak first and think out loud, other think first and say nothing at all. Some are expressive and effusive when they speak and others are unemotional and dry when they speak. Some are loud others are soft. Some are direct, even abrupt, and others are indirect and their intention are implied.

    In most cultures, communication styles follow gender patterns. It should be notes that there are exceptions, but they are in the minority. In the southern and mid-western United States, females are commonly those who pursue a conversation. Females use more words to communicate. And females utilize more expression, and are more effusive when communicating.

    Males are commonly those who avoid a conversation. Males use fewer words to communicate. And males utilize less expression, and are less effusive when communicating.

    No one style is better than the other. Amusingly, both styles falsely assume their style is the better style and wish the other style would change to be more like themselves. In fact, a diversity in communication styles (talkative/quiet; wordy/silent; expressive/unemotional; loud/soft; direct/indirect, etc.) can bring a needed fullness to the conversation. Those who are more prone to consider and reflect can evaluate words of the verbose and bring clarity. Those who find speaking easy can articulate the thoughts of those who are less likely to speak and present understanding.

    Here are two important rules about Communication Styles:
    1) Different styles which are left misunderstood can lead to irritation or to miscommunication.
    2) Tolerance and patience for your spouse’s unique communication style is absolutely essential.

Jesus doesn't promise you will always have perfect communication in your marriage, but He promises you can have an eternal anchor for your soul: THE GOSPEL (John 16:33). Our kids need to see what it looks like to follow Christ more than they need to hear what we say it is like to follow Christ. Parents are the models of following Christ. This is no easy task. Yet there is no better way to teach them than to show them. Our kids need to see us struggle, mess up, yet reply with gospel centered reaction.
Our responses to one another, especially in the arguments, must be graceful and gospel centered:

  1. Mistakes are made,
  2. Grace is offered,
  3. Forgiveness is experienced,
  4. Repentance causes change and
  5. Mercy is enjoyed!
The gospel response is always the best response and this is how our kid’s faith will be influenced. Is it time to have a conversation with you spouse and begin living a gospel centered marriage? That is my prayer for you. God bless our marriages!
Dr. Phil Sallee, Pastor

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