Continue with us and do our devotional challenge together as a couple!
Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the profits. But now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his son. Hebrews 1:1–2
Think about the lengths to which people go in order to communicate with one another and be understood. We make the effort to learn a foreign language to move a growing business to an international scale. We take classes and read books on how to write and speak the "King's English" better. We do those little exercises to increase our word power.
Human beings really get busy when there is a challenge to clear communication. Someone invented sign language, allowing those with speech and hearing impediments to communicate. Without this effort, society may have missed valuable contributions of people like Helen Keller. Someone else developed computerized voice technology, allowing those with serious physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, to speak. Brilliant physicist Stephen Hawking and the entire scientific community have been the beneficiaries of such advances in technology.
Consider also the challenge God undertook to communicate with us in the Old and New Testaments. We couldn't speak his language, so he put his word into our language. We couldn't step up to his intellectual level, so he stooped to ours, explaining the Gospel in contemporary terms and illustrating eternal truth with stories even young children can grasp.
And even though we have the Bible in our own vernacular – including a plethora of contemporary translations – we often are not adequately equipped to understand God's Word and apply it. So God took the communication process even further. He sent his Holy Spirit to tutor us from the inside out, verse by verse. As a result of God's effort to communicate his love, we enjoy an intimate relationship with our Creator. And had God not revealed himself to us through his Word and his Son, we might never know him personally.
Is it any wonder, then, that communication is so vital in marriage, the most intimate of human relationships? We believe that communication is indispensable to the ministry of serving love and marriage. Meeting each other's needs is a vital element of a divorce-proof marriage. But if your spouse does not communicate his or her needs to you, you are flying blind when it comes to meeting those needs.
When our radio program aired daily, nearly every day, a love-starved husband or wife would lament to us the pain of a marriage lacking in communication. When couples do not share their lives and hearts with each other consistently, the atmosphere in the home can get colder than an Arctic winter. Without communication we fall out of sync and disconnect, leaving plenty of room for chilly distance and selfishness to grow.
Communication is the process of sharing yourself verbally and nonverbally in a way that your spouse both understands and accepts – though not necessarily agrees with – what you were sharing. Studies show that couples who communicate frequently have a more satisfying relationship. And couples who achieve deep levels of communication enjoy the most satisfaction of all.
So what does effective, meaningful communication look like in an intimate relationship? To answer that question, we must again look at God's model of communication with us, his beloved. Throughout Scripture we see at least three basic levels on which God has communicated with us. You and your spouse can evaluate the effectiveness of your communication by asking yourselves if these three levels are fully operational in your day-to-day interaction.
Information and History
God went to great lengths in Scripture to share with us volumes of important and interesting information. He tells us how the heavens and the earth were created. He includes countless biographies not only of godly men and women but also individuals who refused relationship with him. He recites in painstaking detail how his Son was born, lived, died, and was raised again to redeem fallen mankind. He describes the early decades of church history. In Scripture, God has provided information for us in panoramic, over-arching summaries in jot-and-tittle details.
Effective communication in a marriage must include information of any kind. Obviously, you need to be talking constantly about the details of personal schedules, finances, and childcare, for example. But your spouse also needs to know on a daily basis about your activities away from home, your work projects, your interactions with other people, the surprises that happened to you, and any number of events and happenings you encounter while apart. By sharing information with your spouse, you are welcoming him or her into your world, which encourages intimacy.
Opinions and Beliefs
In addition to the information in Scripture, God generously shared with us his opinions and beliefs about our life here on earth. He left with us the law and commandments of the Old Testament, the sermons and parables of Christ, and the instruction of the Epistles. And because God is God, his opinions and beliefs on any topic constitute truth. He is always right. His opinions and beliefs are moral absolutes for us, defining what is right and what is wrong.
Our opinions and beliefs are not perfect like God’s, but they are no less valuable to intimacy in a marriage relationship. Your spouse needs to hear what you believe about what is happening in your family, your community, your church, and the world. When you share your opinions and beliefs, you are welcoming your spouse into your thoughts, which encourages intimacy.
Feelings and Desires
Throughout the Bible, God reveals a wide scope of emotions – joy, anger, jealousy, love, grief, disappointment, and others. Jesus wept. Jesus became angry. Jesus loved. Jesus also held little children on his knee and participated in joyful weddings. God had emotions, and he chose not to hide his feelings from us in Scripture. We also sense the yearnings of God's heart and his Word, his deep desire for relationship with us, his sorrow when we do not respond to his love.
Your spouse needs to hear not only your information and your convictions, but also your feelings and desires about what is happening in your life. This doesn't just mean that you express your emotions by laughing, crying, or venting in front of him or her. It also means describing what is going on in your heart with words such as, "I feel like…," "It hurts me when…," "I'm so happy about…," "I really wish that…" when you share your deep emotions and yearnings with your spouse, you are welcoming him or her into your heart, which encourages intimacy.
A key to meaningful, intimacy-building communication is to develop proficiency at all three levels. Become an expert in the serving love of sharing with your spouse what you know, what you think, and what you feel. Your marriage will be richer for it.
How would you rate yourself on these three levels of communication? How well do you share information and history with your spouse? How openly do you communicate your opinions and beliefs? How freely do you reveal your feelings and desires? In which area of communication are you strongest? In which area are you weakest?
Thank you, God, for sharing yourself so freely with me in your Word and by your Spirit. Thank you that for my benefit you recorded the information and history of your dealings with humankind. Thank you for being open and pointed about what is right and wrong, and how my life can please you. And thank you for sharing your deep heart, your love for me, and your desires for our relationship. I want to implement your example of open communication in my marriage relationship this week. Strengthen me at all levels of communication, for your glory and the good of my marriage. Amen.
Renew your Love
Practice expanding your communication with your spouse this week. Each day, take note of items of information you want to share with your spouse, perhaps even writing down a short list. For example: "Our receptionist announced her retirement today" or "The Sunday School director called to ask if I would teach a class." Do the same to identify some of your opinions and beliefs, such as: "I don't think I'm going to get the raise I wanted "or "I think the City Council is doing a great job." Then move on to list some of your feelings and desires, something like: "I'm so happy that you are going to be a discussion leader in Bible study "or "I'm really worried about my mother's failing health." At some point each day, share with your spouse from these three levels, even if you must use notes to do it.