As Kim and I counsel people about their marriage, the one thing I have noticed is that communication is the first thing that causes destruction in a marriage. Make sure you learn how to communicate properly. Communication is the main problem or the starter of a problem in about 99 percent of marriages. In essence, Christians do not talk to one another, and they certainly don’t talk about spiritual things in their lives. They rarely talk about anything. Young lovers rarely have a communication problem. They seem to be able to talk about anything. Somehow that ability often vanishes after they are married. Lack of communication is almost always a problem for couples who come for marriage counseling. If it is not lack of communication, it is the wrong communication. Ephesians 4:29 and 31, Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Let ALL bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. Folks, this is a powerful portion of scripture; did you notice “evil speaking”? It says to, “Put away all evil speaking”. Most evil speaking comes from other things in this verse. Things like bitterness, wrath, and anger. By the way, it says to put away all these too! Communication under pressure of anger and shouting is not the approach. However, that is the approach most professing Christians use in direct disobedience to God’s Word. One of the reasons that many children who grow up in Christian homes today do not end up living for God is because of the anger of their parents. Problems and differences in a marriage are not dangerous; not being able to communicate the differences, or problem areas is dangerous. Let’s talk about how we should communicate. Ephesians 4:15, But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. The Bible teaches that we should “speak the truth in love”. One thing to bear in mind, is that the more truth you speak, the more love you should use in conveying that truth. Truth is a sharp two edged sword, so we use it carefully.
Make sure you are not acting like a child. Adults are led by Biblical principles, not feelings. Children are motivated by feelings. That is their primary rule of law. That being said, a person has never really entered adulthood if they have not learned to follow Biblical principles in spite of where their feelings are leading them. A Christian must learn what it means to be controlled by the Holy Spirit at the point of impact.
Unfortunately, a good number of our married couples are little people in big people’s bodies. Though they have secured a decent education and established a nice career, they stopped growing emotionally a long time ago or never learned how to grow emotionally to begin with. When they feel angry, they act angry. If they feel like pouting, negative behavior ensues. They say whatever comes to their mind and thus show their spiritual and emotional immaturity. This is nothing less than childish behavior, and, sad to say, it is what keeps me busy as a pastor and marriage counselor.
I have found that until someone learns to say “yes” to Biblical principles and “no” to their childish emotions, they will never learn how to properly deal with their marital issues. They will be up one day and down the next, and they will take their marriage on a perpetual roller coaster ride.
Our goal for every counselee is spiritual and emotional maturity by learning how to apply Biblical principles to their life and to stop, think, and turn our thoughts over to the Lord at the point of spiritual impact in their life. This is the point where Satan puts outside pressure on your life to try to get you to react like a child with childish behavior. Satan seeks to control the Christians life by placing outside pressure on them to control their soul which is the seat of their mind, emotions, and will. He will then control their decision making. They will react in their emotion led life rather than to submit themselves to God and make Jesus Christ real in their lives at the point of impact.
James 4:7, Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
This is our goal to teach as a counselor. They are in our office because they are immature emotionally and spiritually. Their childish behavior has put them there.
Make sure you use the two golden phrases that every married couple should communicate repeatedly throughout their marriage: 1. I am sorry! 2. I love you! Learn to be able to say this and you will go a long way toward having a good marriage. Say to your partner, I love you and say it meaningfully and often. Make sure you are controlled by the Holy Spirit daily. Every day ask the Lord if there is anything that stands between you and Him. When He shows you what it is, ask for forgiveness for that sin and turn from it, I John 1:9. Then make sure to ask the Holy Spirit to fill you that day. Also, ask the Holy Spirit to help you love your partner and to communicate in the proper way each day. Make it an important part of your prayer life. Ask the Lord to help you in the same manner with your children. After all, you want their heart, Proverbs 23:26. If you have an angry spirit, it must be turned over to God daily.
Kim and I have practiced something down through the years of our marriage. Every Sunday night after church we take a drive together. We talk about the services of the day, our relationship, our relationships with others, and our relationship with God. I ask her what she thinks and she asks me what I think. I also ask her what she thought about the messages that were preached that day, whether I preached or someone else preached. While our girls were home I would take them for a drive individually after church on Sunday afternoon and talk. Remember, these talks are not just about mundane things, but we talked about what we were learning from God’s Word and the desire’s He had put upon our hearts. I also took this time to explain to them how important it was to have an intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with God. If you are too busy to communicate, you are too busy. However, it is easy to get so busy we do not communicate and years go by. You only have your children in your home for 18 years; you need to redeem the time. Also, you have to commit yourself to communicating. Make time for it. Those rides in the car become special times and my daughters every now and then talk about their rides with dad. Remember your wife or husband will be there long after those 18 years are over. The sadness is sometimes after the children are gone, a couple finds out the years have gone by and they really do not know each other because they have not communicated. If you do not talk with each other and have a Spirit filled life, you will have a disaster in your marriage, ministry, and a disaster with your children.
Another tool that is very effective that I have used with couples who say, “I do not love her or him anymore”, I have often encouraged men and women in a troubled marriage to ask themselves the question, “If I felt love for my spouse today, what would I do for them?” Then, I advise them to go and do according to their answer. To be honest, it is a very powerful step for spouses to take, and there is a sense where it must be done in faith that their feelings will eventually agree with not only their actions, but Biblical precepts.
I Corinthians 13:4-5, Charity (love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Did you notice “love is kind?” Most people respond when I ask the above question say, “I would be more kind.” Next question- how specifically would you do that? When they give you the answer encourage them to do it as an assignment. Make yourselves tell each other that you are thankful for each other. Love each other consistently and often.
1 Thessalonians 5:18, In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
The most important thing for any couple is to be Spirit controlled people. Do you want to know how to be a Spirit controlled person? I would encourage you to read our booklet, How to Have a Real Relationship with God-The Work of the Holy Spirit in a Person’s Life.
You may order this booklet at www.hopebiblicalcounselingcenter.com
Some sources in this article come from Hitting Home.