Our girls love their iPad and tablet. In almost any setting they can play games or watch Netflix. Almost any setting. There’s a magic piece of the equation that is required, wifi. If there is wifi they can do anything they want (within the parental guidelines we have set of course), but if there is no wifi, the tablet and iPad are completely useless. The wifi is the lifeblood that causes them to be alive.
I think in marriage communication is the lifeblood that pushes marriages forward in the direction God desires. He has given men and women a powerful tool to continue to grow new life into a marriage, our. Communication is one of the most powerful tools we have. Scripture talks about this in Proverbs:
Proverbs 18:21 (ESV) 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
We have the power to spark life in our marriage or push it towards death. Let’s be clear, communication is not just what we say, but if we can begin to leverage our words to speak life into marriage everything else will begin to follow.
Liz and I do premarital counseling quite often, and with every couple communication is already the number one issue in their relationship. I mean without fail 100% of the couples we have done this for already have struggles in communication and already realize they need help. The root of the struggle comes from one flawed thought every man and woman battles:
Men want women to communicate like men, and women want men to communicate like women; but neither is a viable option.
It’s never going to happen. The sooner men and women come to terms with this challenging truth the sooner they are headed to overcoming the struggles. We challenge you to really read the rest of this blog, and be intentional with the questions at the end. We would love to hear how it impacts your relationship!
I love coffee dates. I mean really love coffee dates. With Hayes, college girls, other mommas, mentors, YOU. I love the smell, the noise, the ambiance, and of course, the caramel lattes. But what I love most about coffee dates is the time of communication it brings. Sometimes after Sunday lunch with my parents, Hayes and I will leave the girls with them and sneak off for a coffee date. It’s fabulous. Time for us to connect and talk before the craziness of the week begins. But, life is not always able to produce time for coffee dates. Even short ones. So the challenge is how to communicate in the craziness of life, right?
As I think about communication in a marriage it leads me to one of the reasons I was so ready to marry Hayes Howell. I wanted to do life with him. I wanted to be the one that was beside him talking through things. I wanted to be the one helping him in making decisions, big or little. I wanted to be that number one confidant of his. And as we’ve walked this marriage journey for 12 years now I have learned so much and I’ll let you in on a little secret. This is going to sound crazy. Are you ready? Men and women communicate differently. I know, I know. It’s out of the box crazy but I’m telling you it’s the truth. Hayes and I have learned though, that we need to understand this about each other. It makes a world of difference, ladies, if you understand how men communicate. If our husband lacks to give you all the details we tend to get defensive. Our minds start telling us he doesn’t want to tell us, that he doesn’t have time, that he’d rather be doing something else besides talking to us. And this can be a lonely and destructive path for a marriage. Let me tell you another little secret. The enemy knows these differences too. And he is out to kill, steal, and destroy our marriages. So, realizing that we communicate differently than our husbands will help us not go down that path of destruction but rather help us communicate with our husbands about how we feel when this happens. It allows us to be aware and to fight for our marriages. The enemy is fighting against it. We must fight even harder ladies. And I can almost guarantee you, it’s not that they don’t want to tell you. It’s just that they feel like they answered the question.
Wife: How was your day?
Husband: It was good.
They answered, but we want details! And don’t worry ladies, I guarantee you Hayes will let the men know a little secret too in the “He says” section. Something that I have heard Hayes say 937,428 times during premarital counseling sessions or just in talking with couples and college students who are struggling is “communication denotes value.” (He’ll tell them below. I bet you a coffee date!!) And it’s so very true. Communication denotes value. So ladies, let’s not allow ourselves to fall in the pit of destructive thinking because we feel like our husbands are not valuing us with their communication. Let’s do the very thing we are longing for our husbands to do. Communicate. Help them in this journey. Let them know how it makes you feel. Let them know that you are so crazy in love with them that you can’t wait to hear every. single. detail of their day. Ok, maybe not every single detail because that’s a little cray. Come to an consensus that works for your marriage. Give them a little grace when they lack in the details. Because after all, we need grace from them too, right? Give them a little nudge for the details with a sweet reminder of how much you love them and care for them. And maybe, plan a coffee date once a month for the two of you. And if you live close by, I know a couple who would love to double coffee date!
We’ve all been there. We get this bright idea that we will stay home and miss our two kids getting their haircut so we can help out around the house. We feel like we are God’s gift to our wife, and we strut in like a turkey to tell her we are going to stay home. But her response makes us feel more like an ostrich wanting to bury our head in the ground. We are confused and wonder what we did wrong. Right? I know you’ve been there. I know because men are not good at communicating. Sorry guys, it’s just not our strong suit.
Here is the deal guys: COMMUNICATION DENOTES VALUE. We communicate with those we value. So when we fail to communicate we communicate a lack of value. Here’s how this happened in the above example (which is real and recent…). First of all, I know my wife values quality time more than acts of service. So when I chose to skip this time together to serve her it communicated that I would rather clean the house than spend time with her. You may or may not know me but most men would not rather clean the house than anything. In essence I was indeed picking what I wanted more than what she valued. Secondly, this communicated that it was my wife’s responsibility to take 2 little girls (one who was not feeling well) to get their haircut and I didn’t have to help. Again, this was not what I intended to communicate but that’s what happened.
I know what you’re thinking, our wives should know us well enough to know what we actually think. But here’s the deal, we should know them well enough to know how to communicate to them. If we want to continue to grow in our relationship with our wife then we have to progress in our communication. This means effort and communicating about communication. This means not just conceding defeat because men and women communicate differently. Men, we need to know what we say, how we say it, and how our wives will respond. If we love them that is what we do.
We also need to know how much our wives want. Men tend to communicate in factual statements. Yes. No. Good. Bad. This is how this works in our marriage, my mom will call and we will talk for a good 15 minutes. When I hang up Liz will ask me what she was calling about and my typical answer is something like “Her pool is ready.” But we talked a lot more than that, and Liz knows it. So in that moment she feels as if I don’t think she is important enough or valuable enough to take the time and share what mom was talking about. This is deflating and does not build our wives up.
I know what you’re thinking, I just don’t remember! Well, start remembering. Your wife is valuable enough for you to put forth the effort to remember the details of your conversation. She’s not being nosey, she just wants to know what is going on in her husband’s life. Always get and share the details.
This whole communication thing is not easy, it takes effort, but it will enrich your marriage in phenomenal ways!!
- On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest) rate the communication in your relationship. Write down why you gave it what you did. Answer separately and keep your answers to yourself.
- Write down one thing your spouse/fiance/boyfriend/girlfriend does really well in regards to communication. Answer separately and keep your answers to yourself.
- Write down one thing your spouse/fiance/boyfriend/girlfriend needs to work on in regards to communication. (this is not your opportunity to belittle them). Answer separately and keep your answers to yourself.
- Write down one unrealistic expectation you have regarding communication. Answer separately and keep your answers to yourself.
- Men, take your wife on a date. Discuss what you wrote down for question 1-4.