Over the next five weeks, we are going to explore the topic of healthy marriages. With nearly a 50% divorce rate, there are clearly issues existing within marriages that have yet to be figured out, walked out, or resolved. Hopefully over the next few weeks, we will discover avenues for improving or enhancing our marriages. Are you ready to take the 5-week Marriage Tune Up? After the next five weeks, the goal is to have a stronger, better and more fulfilling marriage relationship. Here we go!
The first tune up area we will discuss is the dreaded “C” word—COMMUNICATION! We’ve all heard it said that communication will make or break a marriage. Communication is the engine or heart of your marriage vehicle. Without it, your marriage will quickly break down. Communication involves listening, understanding and speaking. We must listen to each other’s’ hearts (goals, dreams, desires, dislikes, etc.) and fully understand what is being communicated. We can’t give each other the “silent treatment” and think everything will work itself out. Without effort, things rarely work themselves out. Communication is a commitment from both spouses to make a daily, conscious effort to listen, understand, and speak. If something bothers you, don’t wait for it to go away. If your spouse disrespected you, find a good time to lovingly express your feelings. If your spouse has gone a couple days without really saying much, try to find out what may be bothering them without pestering them.
A must-read for every couple is Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages”. It allows you to discover your unique love language—words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. Many marriages struggle or fail because the individuals are speaking two different languages without realizing it which leads to their individual needs not being met. If one is talking English and the other is talking Chinese, it will be very difficult and frustrating to understand each other. For more information visit www.5lovelanguages.com. This is an invaluable investment to your relationship!
Take the communication challenge and tune up your marriage! Invite another couple or your church family to take the journey with you.
Day 1: Take the 5 Love Languages quiz and discover your love language. Discuss it with your spouse including ways you feel most loved. If you have taken the quiz before, take it again because your love language may have changed slightly.
Day 2: Find out how well you REALLY know your spouse. If you don’t know, find out! Here are a few questions to get the wheels turning.
- What is their favorite restaurant, favorite snack, favorite food and favorite meal?
- After a really long day, what will make your spouse feel loved?
- Is your spouse introverted or extroverted?
- Who are your spouse’s closest friends?
- If money were not an option, what would your spouse most likely do?
Day 3: Have a discussion and ask your spouse about his/her goals for the next 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, etc. without being judgmental. Do your individual goals/dreams complement one another? Are there ways you can help each other reach those goals?
Day 4: Write a love letter to your spouse and give it to them. Even if you are finding difficulty in expressing your thoughts, think about what drew you to the person in the beginning. Reflect on their positive character traits and what you like about them.
Day 5: Discuss a situation/issue that seems to keep reoccurring. Set aside sufficient time to discuss it using these pointers:
- Timing, Tone and Touch are key in communication.
- Choose the right time to address an issue. Right before church or before an important meeting, etc. may not be the best time.
- When communicating, use a soft, loving tone. Your volume shouldn’t be on 10. If you cannot do this, try writing your feelings and giving them to your spouse.
- When communicating, use touch in an appropriate way. Hug your spouse after a long day. Look into their eyes when they are speaking.
- Use “I” when expressing how you feel rather than “you”. It removes the defense. Be careful not to point the finger. For example, I felt really embarrassed last night at the restaurant when you called me “fat” in front of the children.
Day 6: Spend a few minutes praying together. Most people have their own prayer/quiet time, but rarely spend time praying together as a couple. Take it a step further and discuss a scripture or devotional.
Day 7: Reflect and review the week. Do you feel you know your spouse better? Have you made a conscious effort to communicate every day? Did you resolve any issues? Have you shown your spouse love according to his/her love language this week?
Make sure you tune in next week to discover the 2nd key in the marriage tune-up!
~Coletta Jones Patterson