Talking: The true key to communication, although we do communicate with our body language and tone of voice, but we’ll leave that to another post. Kathleen gave us a good example of how she tried to meet her husband on his terms and interests. And based upon what she said, her efforts were rewarded. Her husband encouraged her. The point here is she took the time to find a way to involve herself in something her husband liked to do, therefore opening more opportunities for them to communicate and share. (Guess I’ll give disc golf another shot. Stay tuned for more on that one!)
Choices: Part of the underlying thread of communication is the choice to participate and even choose an activity conducive to talking. Having dinner instead of a movie. Taking a walk together for exercise instead of going to the gym and then going different directions. Or even doing activities in the same room—reading, like Gretchen’s example—but still keeping physical contact (there’s that body language again…) and being open to share and talk when the mood hits. Just be sure to pick an activity in which you and your spouse won’t mind interruptions. Kathryn made a great suggestion of having a regular date night. Here’s an opportunity to get creative in the planning and even challenge one another to try new things. Let’s admit it, part of the battle is falling into old routines that leave one or both spouses dissatisfied.
Part of this also applies to the situation like our anonymous friend shared. Yes, we want to reach out to our unbelieving spouses and find common ground, but we can’t compromise to sin in order to do it. God would never ask that of us anyway. Perhaps in anonymous’ case, the family could work together to find appropriate shows and movies they can watch together, and leave a clear boundary that he’s on his own when she and her son find the content offensive. Their actions will continue to speak volumes.
Setting Aside Agendas: With this comes Amber’s excellent point. Humility. If we can go into our effort to connect with our spouses with humility, with our own agendas set aside, perhaps we can reach them in new ways. Sure, it may mean doing something like wading through burrs and dry grass to find a Frisbee disc on a hot day, but am I willing to put aside my discomfort and make the point of the activity—to spend time together—the focus?
Rob gave us a reverse scenario of this one. He found something he felt would be interesting to both him and his wife. And not only that, it turned into an opportunity for him to share his faith. His persistence paid off.
Prayer: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, let’s pray and ask God to show us new ways to communicate with our spouses. When we’ve tried everything and have basically moved on to live separate lives for the most part as Grammy shared with us, I still believe God can break these barriers in ways we can’t even imagine. So yes, when we are in a difficult marriage, we should continue to grow and pursue our own interests, but we shouldn’t give up on our difficult spouses, nor throw that valuable respect Tamara talked about out the window. Nor should we keep ourselves stagnant just to make our spouse happy. The enemy would love nothing better. When we can’t seem to make any ground in these situations, God can. And we can too through his guiding hand and strength. (Phil. 4:13)
So, let's keep sharing new ways to communicate with our spouses. And if you see me on the disc golf range, be sure to wave hello. I’ll be the one picking burrs out of my socks.
Praying and believing,