My (Roland) future son in law (engaged to my daughter Abi), Zach recently showed me a video of him doing a muscle up. What is a muscle up, you ask? Well, it’s a CrossFit exercise that is extremely difficult to accomplish. If I attempted a muscle up it would most definitely have to be a modified version. One where maybe the bar is already set at waist level. I’m sure at that point I could pull of 30 or so. 🙂
The visual of his video came to mind when thinking about effective communication in marriage. We can see someone do a muscle up, and like Zach, he makes it look easy. However, jump up on the bar and you realize it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and commitment to achieve such an accomplishment.
Effective Communication is Like a Muscle Up
Effective communication like a muscle up is attainable but doesn’t come easy. It also cannot be oversimplified. Communication is a skill that is developed and a constant work in progress. So often communication is limited to one area like how your spouse receives and communicates love. Communication is much more than how we receive and communicate love. Effective communication is giving ourselves entirely to our spouse in pursuit of a unity that is unparalleled by any other relationship we have.
What is effective communication in marriage? The ability of husband and wife to share each other’s thoughts, feelings, and desires while speaking, listening, and understanding one another in a way that is life giving.
I’m sure we’ve all experienced moments of great connection in our marriage. Those moments came because connection at a deep level was felt. The relationship was firing on all cylinders. The verbal and non-verbal language was being conveyed and received in meaningful ways. How is it that moments later there can be a misunderstanding that completely hijacks the moment of deep companionship? We transition from life-giving interaction to selfishness, anger, and resentment. Our spouse just doesn’t understand and never will. Communication shifted to shouting or silence, and your interactions with one another toxic.
What Does Scripture Say?
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”II Corinthians 10:3-5
The Scripture above is clear, the battle is not against the flesh and the weapons of our warfare are not of this world. Marriage relationships become toxic when two people are fighting each other using the weapons of this world. We do well to consider what James writes in his letter to God’s people.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”James 3:13-18
Let’s be honest with ourselves and with our spouse. It might be better to give than to receive, but we all love to receive. We are especially overwhelmed when we receive and there is no expectation of anything in return. It can blow us away when love is expressed in just the right way, and we did nothing to deserve it. That’s one of the tensions that exists with effective communication, we desire to be heard, understood, and accepted, but we are not always willing or able to offer those same feelings in return. Especially if they are undeserving. Our own selfish ambitions war against the goal of love, joy, peace, and gentleness with one another.
You Probably Communicate Differently than Your Spouse
Tammy and I are very different, and we have had to learn over time how to communicate effectively with one another. Early in marriage we were guilty of wanting to be heard rather than wanting to understand one another. It seemed elusive to experience what we call effective communication as defined earlier in this blog. I wanted Tammy to understand my hurts, my wants, my needs, and be life giving for her, but my words, actions, and body language didn’t convey those desires. We both admit that while we knew the biblical principles, we could quickly reason why in this moment we needed to resort to more worldly tactics. Repentance was key!
Today, we can honestly say we are soulmates. Not the way many define it as if we are overtly compatible, we are not. We are soulmates because we can communicate in a way where we are safe to bear our soul with one another without fear of retaliation, shame, or rejection.
Depending on where you are in your fitness journey will determine where to begin in the process of achieving a muscle up. Effective communication is similar. Where you are in your faith journey as well as what has transpired in your marriage where determine where to begin as you pursue the life-giving joys of effective communication in your marriage.
Time to muscle up!
Here are three tips to get started:
- Always approach your spouse in a way that is kind, tender hearted, and forgiving. (Ephesians 4:32)
- Be quick to listen and slow to speak. (James 1:19)
- Be intentional about speaking to your spouse in a way that is encouraging. (Proverbs 25:11)