Category: Communication

Why the Silent Treatment?

If you have ever received the ‘silent treatment’ from your spouse, how did you respond? Did you remain silent also? Or, did you lash out in anger and demand that your spouse talk to you? Neither of these extremes is likely to make things better. The answer lies in understanding why your spouse has gone silent.

Sometimes it is an effort to control your behavior. You are doing something that they don’t like and they are trying to make you miserable. On the other hand it may be that they have difficulty sharing negative feelings of hurt or disappointment. If you discover and address the reason behind the behavior, you are likely to have more success in re-establishing conversation.

Making Love Better

Perhaps you have noticed that men and women are extremely different. No where is that difference more pronounced than in our sexuality. Men are attracted by sight; women by touch and kind words. Men focus on intercourse; women on foreplay. Men think that sex will heal the hurts; women want the hurts healed before they can respond sexually.

With all these differences, what is the secret to mutual sexual fulfillment in marriage? In one word—love. Making sex an act of love—that is God’s plan. Our attitude should be, “How can I pleasure you?” We are not to force anything on our spouse. When we force our spouse out of selfish desires, we have ceased to love. Love is tender and kind; never demanding.

Three Purposes of Marriage

What is the purpose of sex in marriage? What was God’s design? I want to suggest three reasons clearly revealed in Scripture.

First, and most obvious is procreation or reproduction. It was God’s design to provide a safe haven in which to rear children.

A second purpose is companionship. Sex is designed to be a bonding experience. The biblical term is: The two become ‘one flesh’. It is deep deep companionship. I believe that is why it is reserved for marriage. It is our unique expression that we are ‘one’.

A third purpose for sex in marriage is for pleasure. If you doubt this, read The Song of Solomon in the Bible. God’s design was mutual sexual pleasure.

Go Ahead. . . Tell Your Spouse What You Like

In a society that is saturated with sex, why do so many couples struggle in this area of  marriage? One of the reasons is that we fail to communicate. Your wife will never know your feelings, needs, and desires if you do not express them. Your husband will never know what pleases you if you do not communicate. I have never known a couple who gained sexual oneness without open communication about sexual matters.

Make a list of suggestions that would make this part of the marriage better for you. Share the list with your spouse. If you would like to read a list made by other husbands and wives see my book: The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.  Communication is the road to finding mutual sexual fulfillment in marriage.

How to Leave Sexual Baggage Behind

One of the realities in contemporary society is that many couples come to marriage with previous sexual experience, either with each other, or with other partners. The commonly held idea is that sexual experience before marriage better prepares you for marriage. All of the research indicates otherwise. In fact, the divorce rate is twice as high among those who have been sexually active before marriage.

The Christian answer is the confession of wrongdoing and genuinely forgiving each other for past failures. The scars of the past may remain, but the scars serve as a reminder of the grace and love of God. When God forgives us, He no longer holds it against us. We in turn, forgive each other.

The Truth About Sex

Some Christians have a negative attitude toward sex. It may have come from a distorted sex education, an unfortunate sexual experience as a child, or sexual involvement as a teenager that brought disappointment and guilt. The origin is relatively unimportant. The important thing is to understand that we choose our attitudes.

The first step in overcoming a negative attitude is exposure to the truth. The truth about sex is that within marriage it is God ordained and designed to bring mutual pleasure. As in all of life we are called to live by the truth. We admit our negative attitudes and feelings, but we don’t serve them. With the help of God we live according to His revealed truth.

Check the Foundation Before You Get Married

Would you like some guidelines for helping you decide whom you marry?

The Scriptures say that when we get married, the husband and wife become ‘one’.  The word speaks of deep intimacy.  If we’re going to have that kind of marriage, then we need a strong foundation on which to build.  That foundation consists of the things you hold in common. Here are a few questions to consider before you marry:

  1. Spiritual Unity: Are you marching to the beat of the same drummer?  If not, in marriage you will be ‘out of step’ with your spouse spiritually.
  2. Intellectual Compatibility: Can you carry on conversations about intellectual matters without arguing?
  3. Values: Do you value the same things?
  4. Socially Compatible: Are you on the same page socially?

Check the foundation before you marry.

My Side of the Wall

Many couples are at a stalemate because they have allowed a wall to develop between them. Walls are erected one block at a time. It may be as small as failing to take out the garbage or as large as failing to meet sexual needs. Instead of dealing with the failure, we ignore it. One failure after another is ignored. The wall becomes high and thick. We were once “in love” but now only resentment remains.

There is only one way to remove a wall. We must tear down the blocks on our side. Someone must take the initiative. Will your spouse forgive you? I don’t know, but it’s worth a try. Confess your past failures and ask God to help you make the future different. The wall is not as thick when your remove the blocks on your side.

Would you like your spouse to change?

In my thirty years as a marriage counselor, I’ve drawn one conclusion: Everyone wishes their spouse would change. “We could have a good marriage if he would just help me more around the house.” Or, “Our marriage would be great if we could have sex more than once a month.” She wants him to change and he wants her to change. Both of them feel condemned and resentful. There is a better way.

Start with you own failures. Admit that you’re not perfect. Confess some of your most obvious failures to your spouse and tell them that you want to change. Ask your spouse for one suggestion each week on how you could be a better husband or wife. To the best of your ability make changes. Chances are, your spouse will reciprocate.

Why is Communication So Hard?

Why does communication break down after marriage? Often, the answer lies in emotions. Before marriage we felt one over-powering emotion . . . love. But now the emotions of hurt, anger, disappointment, and fear often dominate. These emotions do not encourage us to communicate. Or, if we communicate it is likely to be critical.

We speak out of our anger and create even more negative feelings. The key is learning how share emotions without condemnation. “I’m feeling hurt and when you have time, I need your help.” Identifying your feelings and choosing to share them is step one. Step two is accepting the feelings of your mate and asking, “What can I do to help?”

Why is communication so important in a relationship? Because we are not mind readers. The apostle Paul recognized this reality when he asked the question, “Who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” The reason we know what God is like is because God has chosen to reveal Himself. If we reciprocate, we can have a love relationship with God.

Likewise, when we reveal ourselves to another, and they listen and reciprocate, we can build an intimate relationship with that person. Communication is to a relationship what breathing is to the body. Don’t stop talking and don’t stop listening.

*adapted from The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted by Dr. Gary Chapman