Thursday, May 8, 2014

This is part 4 of the 'Cultivating a Godly Marriage' blog series.

Part I — The Meaning of Marriage
Part II — The Husband Leads with Love 
Part III — The Wife Submits with Delight


Part 4: the couple communicates openly, honestly & frequently

The model for communication stems from the Triune God and then from how God has communicated with His people. The community with the Trinity is perfect, eternally wonderful & gloriously open. Each member of the Trinity enjoys perfect fellowship with the other two members of the Trinity. And they always exist in perfect unity, harmony, peace, and gladness. Even still, there is only one God! The communication from the Father to the Son is clear, open, honest and specific. The Father had given the Son a mission to accomplish (John 20:21). Jesus came to accomplish the work of His Father (John 5:36). The Father sent the Spirit into His New Covenant believers (John 14:26) as well as the Son (John 15:26). Thus there is complete agreement, total openness, and glorious communication within each of the members of the Triune Godhead. This serves as a model for marital communication.

I want to provide six brief helps so that marital communication can thrive.

1. Pursue Communication
Humans are selfish. By nature, we as people want to protect ourselves, put up the good-face and appear as though everything is okay. Left to ourselves and our sinful flesh, we live by ourselves, for ourselves, with ourselves, and are happy in ourselves. Sinful human nature is a killer to open, honest, genuine, Christlike communication. Paul tells Christians to put off falsehood and he commands them to ‘speak truth’ with his neighbor (Ephesians 4:25). He gives this command to every Christian. Dear husband and wife, consider how God has communicated with you! Left to yourself you would never know about God, you would never know about Christ, you would never know the Gospel, nor would you ever come to Jesus Christ in saving faith! Yet God has initiated communication with you! He has revealed Himself gloriously and powerfully in creation and most fully and savingly in the Lord Jesus Christ! God has pursued communication with you. So you must, dear spouse, pursue communication in a like manner with your spouse.

2. Be Frequent in Communication
True believers long for fellowship with God. Man lives not by bread alone but by every word that comes out of God’s mouth (Matthew 4:4). Believers find sustenance, strength, and communion with God as they diligently read and study the Word. In this very act, God communicates with His people. Just as God frequently meets with you and you meet with Him through the time in His Word, so you must frequently meet with and spent time communicating with your spouse. Wherever marital conflict arises, a breakdown in communication has happened somewhere. Communication is not merely helpful for a good marriage. Frequent communication is utterly necessary for a healthy, strong, and God-glorifying marriage.

3. Invest in Communication
To communicate involves time. You need to invest time, effort, diligence, and passion in the duty of marital communication. Without investing yourself in communication, conflicts will arise, selfishness will play out, and anger will fester. Deep oneness only can occur when the husband and the wife both communicate. The importance of deep, intimate, and honest communication cannot be overemphasized since God intends that the marriage relationship be the closest and most intimate of all earthly relationships. The husband and his wife have both left their parents, they have joined to each other in a lifelong marriage covenant, and they are now and forever one flesh (Genesis 2:24). It may be that the health of a couple’s communication will largely determine the oneness and loving intimacy that the husband and the wife enjoy.

4. Work at Communication
As a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). Communication — real communication — is hard work. Couples must constantly be working toward marital harmony and open communication in their relationship. You, O spouse, need to ask yourself frequently questions such as: ‘Do I really have all the facts?’ ‘Is what I would like to say profitable or edifying?’ Is it the proper time for me to say this statement or would it be better, more appropriate or better received, at a later time?’ ‘Am I saying this out of anger, reacting to something that happened?’ Pouting, moping, manipulation, emotionally charged words (you always; or, you never, etc.), or deceptive tears have no positive contribution to deep, honest marital communication. Rather than assuming and expecting how someone will react or answer, Godly spouses need to be honest and work themselves at biblical communication. Rather than assuming you know what someone is thinking or telling yourself that you know the motive of someone’s actions, words, or deeds, you must work at humbly, patiently, and gently communicating with them. Thus, judgmental, demanding, demeaning, bitter attitudes and spirits must be put off, confessed and replaced with a tender, patient, forgiving, and loving spirit toward the other person — always.

5. Have Vulnerability in Communication
Jesus spent time with twelve men and discipled them. He made Himself vulnerable with them as they saw him in his weakest moments, in his tired hours, amidst the crowded masses, and tirelessly speaking to his enemies. He loved His disciples and spent much time communicating with them and training them. Even though Jesus knew that one of His disciples would fall away and betray Him, Jesus still was vulnerable with all of His disciples!

6. Evidence Trust in Communication
To communicate well not only involves speaking ‘edifyingly’ but it also includes good listening. Communication is a two-way street. Just as when believers commune with the Lord through prayer (talking to God) and Bible-reading (hearing from God), so also must it be in the marriage relationship. There must be a time for talking and a time for listening. Without both of these elements, good communication is impossible. It is folly and shame to answer before you hear the matter (Proverbs 18:13). Every person must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19). Thus, when hearing the other person’s heart, especially within the context of marriage, the spouse must guard those statements and ensure that trust will never be betrayed. A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a citadel (Proverbs 18:19).

“The heart of marriage is its communications system. … It can be said that the success and happiness of any married pair is measurable in terms of the deepening dialogue which characterizes their union” (Dwight Hervey Small).

“Christian communication is ‘the basic skill needed to establish and maintain sound relationships. A sound husband and wife relationship is impossible apart from good communication” (Jay Adams).

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