Communication is a tool that can either divide or bring a couple closer. As couples, many times everyone else receives the best parts of us and we give each other the leftovers. With each cross, critical, or hurtful communication we are making withdrawals from our spouse, the one we love the most. With each uplifting, encouraging and loving word we are depositing into our marriage, strengthening the bond we share. Matthew 12:36 – 37 (NASB) states that we will either be justified by our words, or we will be condemned by them. Proverbs 18:21 says that we have the power of life and death in our tongue. As our daily lives sap all the energy and strength from us, we must learn to prioritize our marriages. We must reserve some of our personal resources to invest in our marriages daily.
The first words we need to avoid in a heated moment are “never” and “always”. These statements not only box our spouses into a place that they will never grow or change, but these words are in essence stating that God cannot move, change, or sanctify us. For example, if I were to tell my husband “You NEVER take out the trash”, this is probably not a true statement, and it is definitely not speaking life over him.
As noted in the “Two Becoming One” curriculum, there are many factors that affect our communication. These factors include gender difference, temperament, and our individual social background and upbringing. If you google “relational pyramid”, you will come up with numerous results. Several years ago, my husband and I were educated on this by our pastor at that time. The base of this triangle is “Individual emotional health”. Each of us comes into any relationship with our own personal baggage. These life experiences create our own perceptions and often skew the way we view things.
The next step in the pyramid is “communication skills”. The way we communicate is funneled through our “individual emotional health”. Coming into a marriage, you can see how each person will communicate differently. Remember that our life experiences skew our reality, and our perception is our reality. This is where the work of the Holy Spirit comes into play. We should each look inward and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any untruths within us.
As we move up the pyramid, the next step is “Conflict”. Jesus has not promised us smooth sailing throughout our marriages. Being unique individuals, we are bound to have disagreements, some worse than others. When we allow the Holy Spirit to work within us, He can sanctify us to love our spouse with agape love, which is defined in I Corinthians 13. Through agape love, we can be empowered to release the reactive power of blessing. This will not come naturally. This work can only be done through a willing individual who is empowered by the Holy Spirit. When we choose not to do this work, our insults come more frequently. And we dig a deeper hole between us and our spouse. Remember that you cannot keep doing the same things and expect things to be different.
The Holy Spirit's Work
We must allow the Holy Spirit to complete His work within each of us. This allows us to communicate through conflict in a wholesome manner. When we courageously obey the Holy Spirit’s work in us to be completed, we reach a deeper place of intimacy on the other side of conflict when we learn to communicate in a heathy way. Think of a time in your life when you have walked through hardship or a serious conflict. When you were on the other side of that, you most likely felt much closer to that person and have a deeper trust in them.
The relational pyramid is a tool that if we use, it could help us grow and draw us towards intimacy. Not only our marriages, but other relationships as well. As we work towards individual emotional health, we communicate in a kinder way, decreasing the volatile words and emotional rage we may experience. If we can walk through conflict in a life-giving way, we will be more intimate on the other side of it. Our marriage will strengthen as we build trust in each other and provide a safe place for one another to come to.