December 2019 Article:
By Christine H.
December 31, 2018. My husband and I went to our church’s New Year’s Eve night of prayer. It was the first time we had ever taken part; now that the little ones weren’t so little, it was a lot easier.
I knew it would be good for me. And it was. But there came a point when our pastor was praying over the individuals and the couples in attendance that my husband and I were called upon for our turn. In the middle of our “couple” prayer, Pastor said he prayed for open lines of communication for us, and that we would go on to “help save marriages”.
I have been with this Pastor, in this church, for years. I know him to receive prophetic word from God. I have never doubted what I’ve heard. Until that moment.
I thought, wow. He is so far off with this one. How could this be? You see, my husband and I were quickly sliding a very slippery slope, and I had no confidence in us making it.
Let me take you back further. We had been married nearly 9 years at that time. We married on January 15, 2010. We had been high school sweethearts that, due to “life”, had gone our separate ways before reuniting in 2009.
Let me take you back further. We married on January 15, 2010. Our son was conceived not long after we were married, and for a few years, things were great. The world has a way of getting at us. All of us. The stress of a blended family. Little ones. Work issues. Family issues. It all adds up, and we fell victim.
We stopped focusing on what was important. We let all that “world” use us. We gave into the things about our personalities that allowed us to drift the way we did. He used words as weapons; I am an emotional, insecure person, and that tore me down. As he knew it would. I am the queen of withdrawal, and used that as a weapon, and that tore him down like I knew it would. And so it went. We didn’t talk much. We were angry and resentful. I resented that he didn’t love me the way I needed or wanted. He felt the same. Looking back, we never communicated efficiently to the other what is was that we needed. We cloaked ourselves in bitterness. Hurt. Anger. Always insisting on being heard, but never willing to HEAR.
We never prayed. TOGETHER.
After 2 years of this, I came to my breaking point. I COMPLETELY withdrew. I was done. I had lost who I was over those 7 or so years and had rebuilt myself in those last few months; I was going to move forward and be better for it. I filed for divorce. We told the kids what was happening, put the house up for sale, and we were in the process of securing new residences.
After arguing on my way home from work, the day he received the divorce papers, my husband met me at the door. He wrapped me in a huge embrace and asked if we could talk. We went to the bedroom for privacy, and for the next half hour, he poured out his heart. I wasn’t having ANY of it. I stood the whole time, with my arms across my chest-totally shut down.
What could possibly be conveyed that would alter my confidence in leaving?? I was so sure of my path. I wasn’t going to be deterred. What could he possibly say that would change my mind?
Nothing. There was nothing HE could say.
Somewhere in his impassioned plea I heard a different voice. Distinct. Clear. Loud. As if He were standing right there next to me in that room. And, He was.
That’s what I heard. And in that moment, I took a step back from the brink of the destruction of my marriage.
You see, I had prayed the whole time. Those 2 years I PRAYED. At first, I prayed…help me fix this. Fix him. Fix me.
Then, I prayed, please show me the right path. Please order my steps.
The last several months, I simply prayed…whatever YOU want Lord. YOUR will. In YOUR time.
After praying all of that, I couldn’t ignore His voice. It would be the same as saying I didn’t believe in prayer; I absolutely do.
At first, I still didn’t want to stay. I was extremely hesitant, honestly. But I had asked to do His will, so I would. It isn’t perfect, but what is? We still have little moments, as any relationship does, but we are different now.
Love isn’t a feeling, it’s a choice. I have learned so much about myself. Who I am in God. The wife I should be. The mother. The friend.
I have learned that we need to communicate so much better than we ever did. We need to be understanding. We need to submit to each other.
Most of all, we need to put God first. Seek him first, and always. I need to look at my husband and see God in him and he needs to see the same in me. Just as I am a woman of God, he is a man of GOD. I need to lean on the other women in my church family; learn from them and let them learn from me. I need to pray…unceasingly.
I know now that my Pastor had it right. We can and will help save marriages. We have been to the brink. We have surrounded ourselves with volatility and disdain, and we made it back.
And in those moments where I doubt or struggle, and there WILL be those moments, I need to remember…BUT GOD.
Communication is the lifeblood of any relationship and marriage is no exception, in fact it must be the “rule” in marriage.
Recently, a friend said to me, “They got a maid.”. I repeated back, “They got a maid?”. He sort of laughed said “No, they got it made!”.
Whoa! It sounded almost the same but the meaning couldn’t have been more different! I was thinking mops and buckets and he wasn’t!
Miscommunications of this type are things that you can laugh about and turn a mistake into a positive thing. How many other mistakes can actually be a positive for everyone?
A simple but effective communication tip is, take the time to repeat a summary of what you just heard. You may to want actually say, “This is what I heard you say…”(and then paraphrase it back to them). Then patiently allow them to agree or disagree with your summary. The act of agreeing with your summary is a second positive!
Now that the other party knows that you ACTUALLY heard them that is the third positive.
Now at this point if the other party is finished, you can ask a reasonable question or respond. In most cases, if it a complicated subject you will want to ask a question(s).
One pastor gave me this advice. When he was upset, instead of responding in haste and regretting it, he would ask questions. You can also use this time to seeks the Lord’s wisdom on how to respond and to get more information which might change your response. As they say in the UK, “Brilliant!”.
Okay maybe now is time to respond or not! At this stage if you asked reasonable questions, and they gave the same courtesy then you know they heard you too. (Now there are five or six positives and everyone is more relaxed. It has been stated by others ratio of 5:1 is positive to negatives is good ratio for effective communication.). If you feel your heart rate going up, take short break of 5 minutes to compose yourself. It is also true that a kind word can turn away a wrath.
Now on to your statements. If the statement is not based on a logical facts, then say “I feel” before you begin to lay out your heart. This lets the other person know this is an opinion (one that you might even change).
If it is a logical statement never say “you always” (this sets up a defensive posture and goes to other persons motivation). It would be better to refer to one recent action that you observed without judgment of their motivation. If the other person gets defensive, ask them to summarize what they heard first. If it is incorrect then explain it again until you both come to an agreement. Again, the act of agreeing, even on small things, is good.
Try to put yourself in the other persons shoes - if I was the other person how would I feel? Can you feel the other persons pain? Don’t be afraid to cry, if that is how you feel. Consider that you, as a mere moral, you may be wrong. Ask yourself the question will it matter in in 1 week now, 1 year from now, 10 years form now, to gauge the real importance of it.
Finally, let your conversation lead to an action plan (don’t agree if you can’t live up to it).
Repeat back what you heard.
Ask good questions before responding.
Give a kind response
Say “ I feel”.
Laugh at unintentional misunderstandings.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
Apologize if you made a mistake.
Speak clearly and confidently.
Create an action plan.
Don’t talk before other is finished.
Don’t go on tangents.
Don’t find fault.
Don’t be defensive.
Don’t say “you always”
Don’t say the other is wrong on their feelings.
Don’t Gaslight or blame-shift.
Don’t quit the dialog until it is resolved-take short break if your heart rate goes up
Do not scream, swear or become unjustifiably angry.
Don’t be incorrigible or repeat things over and over.