There’s no doubt about it: Communication is vital in marriage.
When couples don’t 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 are 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 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, overarching summaries and jot-and-tittle details.
Effective communication in a marriage must include information of many kinds. 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 happen 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 shares 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 has emotions, and he chose not to hide his feelings from us in Scripture. We also sense the yearnings of God’s heart in his Word, his deep desire for a 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...,” or, “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.
*For more helpful insights on how to connect with your spouse, check out Renewing Your Love: Devotions for Couples in our online bookstore.