The Key to a Successful Marriage is Not Necessarily Communication


Marriage / Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

My husband and I were married in January of 2015, at the nice young ages of 21 and 25. We were one among several other starry-eyed couples in our group of friends who were married around that time, declaring our undying love for one another and promising to be together forever.

At least three of those other couples divorced or separated within a few short years. We’re now into our fourth year of marriage, and while I don’t think that makes us invincible, I can’t help but feel like our relationship is solid.

Thinking about the marriages that already dissolved leads me to reflect on how much fun we’ve had and how excited we are for the years to come. In our first three years, we adopted a puppy, moved from an apartment into a house, and had twins. It’s been an adventure!

Now, we are preparing to move out of state, away from the city where our entire relationship has taken place. We are excited for this new adventure together, and we find ourselves dreaming big dreams for what the future might hold for our little family. Even with this big life change coming up, I’m not fearful for our marriage.

I acknowledge that moving away from family and friends to a city that is roughly 1/15th the size of where we are now might challenge us. Still, we welcome that challenge and we know we can count on each other throughout this transition. If you’re wondering why I can be so sure about that, I’m about to drop two truth bombs on you.

Most importantly, we know Jesus

First and foremost, we believe God should be at the center of marriage. Making your spouse your sole focus puts WAY too much pressure on that person, and that can be enough to make someone break. My husband shouldn’t have to solve all my problems, but he should choose to walk alongside me through the struggles.

Like many women, I’m a verbal processor and I like to talk things out. Sometimes my husband handles this super well, and sometimes his poor eyes glaze over.

I used to get frustrated when that would happen, but finally I realized that I was asking a lot of him when I felt the need to dump all my emotions on him at once. Part of being a spouse is to love your partner and feel all the highs and lows with that person, but only God offers true unconditional love.

In his book The Meaning of Marriage, Timothy Keller uses a Biblical perspective to explain the purpose of an earthy union: “According to the Bible, God devised marriage to reflect the saving love for us in Christ, to refine our character, to create stable human community for the birth and nurture of children, and to accomplish all this by bringing the complementary sexes into an enduring whole life union.”

God brought my husband and me together and has blessed our marriage. He knows what the future holds for us, and no matter what, we know that His plans are greater than ours. We hold fast to that truth and we know that if He doesn’t come first, our marriage will not flourish.

Communication is not about you

My husband and I agree that our first three months of marriage were our “rocky learning curve.” During that time, we moved in together and were constantly with one another. Our stubbornness and independence collided and blew up in our faces, forcing us to humbly pick up the pieces and figure out what needed to change.

Here’s the thing: we were communicating, just not in the way we each needed. In fact, I was really great at communicating! I could talk at my husband like nobody’s business. When I felt like he needed to figure something out on his own, I was superb at dropping “little” hints for him and rudely pushing him towards them. Needless to say, that did not go well for either of us.

He was great at communicating, too! If I felt upset, he would ask what was wrong. Being the stubborn, immature woman that I was, I would say nothing was wrong. He would ask if I was sure, I would say yes, and he would drop it. Of course, I didn’t want him to drop it, but he didn’t feel like playing that game. He wasn’t willing to push further to find out what was going on, and he didn’t feel like he should have to.

When I think about it now, I laugh out loud. We were both being so self-absorbed and unwilling to acknowledge what the other person needed! Somewhere around the three-month mark, we realized how to communicate with the other person.

Being able to communicate with the other person in a way to which they are receptive is far more important than communicating in the way with which you are most comfortable.

I came to realize that if I wanted him to know something, I needed to tell him directly. If I tried to drop hints instead, I would only get frustrated, and it would be my own fault.

I finally understood that his love languages are quality time and physical touch, and I learned how to communicate these love languages to him. For example, I might not think it’s a big deal to sit outside with him while he cleans the cars, but it means a lot to him.

I also learned to step back and realize that we each need our own time with friends, apart from one another, and I stopped taking it personally if he wanted to make plans that didn’t involve me.

Similarly, he came to understand that my love languages are words of affirmation and gifts, and he learned what that meant. In his mind, I should just know he loves me all the time, but he finally realized that he needed to express it, also.

He figured out that I didn’t need expensive and lavish gifts, but that it meant more to me when he would surprise me with a quick note or remember to grab my favorite chapstick at the store. 

In the book The Five Love Languages, author Gary Chapman explains, “Being sincere is not enough. We must be willing to learn our spouse’s primary love language if we are to be effective communicators of love…if we want him/her to feel the love we are trying to communicate, we must express this in his or her primary love language.”

We are still figuring it out

I’m so glad we pushed through those first few months of marriage and overcame our inability to communicate successfully! As time goes on, we become more and more effective at understanding what needs to be discussed, and we have a deeper appreciation of one another’s needs. 

More importantly, we remember that we are not the center of each other’s lives, but God is. I hope that our marriage reflects God’s love and that our girls grow up with a solid understanding of what marriage should be.    

 


Hello! I am a work-at-home mom to twin girls and a canine. I’m learning what life looks like when you surrender to God. Passionate about parenthood, marriage, and all things coffee!

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