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In order to maximize peace and minimize turmoil it’s prudent to improve communication in relationships. Not only should open lines of communication be maintained through transparency, but also each partner should do their best to detect the emotional climate of the moment. For instance, there might be a topic of high priority to discuss, but it could be held for a better time to talk. Why talk about it in an emotionally charged anger or heated debate, when you can step away for a while and talk about it with more caution and finesse? It might not be natural for some to see when this should or shouldn’t be done, but it can be studied. How is the demeanor of your partner? Does he or she seem to be in control wielding their emotions or are they acting recklessly? Let your God-given discretion determine whether the issue can be handled immediately or should be deferred for later when emotional flares aren’t overly charged.
Communication should be understood in multiple ways. It’s not just the words that you convey, it’s also the way they are delivered, the body language, the tone of voice, and the intent behind them. Occasionally they are well intended but cause more harm than good. An example of this could be a short sighted understanding of what your spouse needs, and trying to deliver them in a way that doesn’t meet their expectation. At least the heart was in the right place trying to deliver, but just the same the execution failed to solve, improve, or otherwise help them. Did she try to explain that a man at her work place attempts to flirt with her in order to let him know that she needs his help. Except all the man gathered given the inflection of her tone was that she was bragging about her desirability.
Both the man and woman made mistakes. Her mistake was the delivery. She could have assured her husband that she avoided the advances and shut him down. If she didn’t do so she could have expressed her desire to improve to such ends. His mistake was misidentifying her positive tone with a desire to be pursued by another man. She needs her man to come by her and assure her that he appreciates her honesty and transparency. He needs a woman who can understand his point of view and choose her words carefully when delivering such a delicate topic of conversation. Both can do better, and if they set their minds to it by God’s grace, they will!
Miscommunication through these mistakes may lead to misunderstanding your significant other. The opposite of the open lines of communication and understanding we should desire for our relationships. If both recognize that there is a gap in the communication, or understand that there is a problem to be resolved, a mutual goal can be set to fix it. Better listening skills, less secrecy, building or restoring trust, and seeking Godly counsel together can all help combat the problem at hand. Sometimes this may include professional help, but if it isn’t pursued immediately, at least the couple in question will have arrived at the potential source for their problem.
Often times it will help to use “miscommunication” or a similar word as a trigger word in the midst of arguments. Both parties can mutually agree to drop their boxing gloves and hopefully calm their tone as they come to their senses. Leading one or both parties the opportunity to become better listeners while the other is able to elaborate more precisely on what their intentions were. No one wants to argue over the wrong facts or out of things that were taken out of context.
A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverbs 15:1 (NKJV).
It’s important to also remember the biblical precept that a soft answer turns away wrath. You don’t need to join the argument if you stay calm in the face of the emotion. Eventually the other person will hopefully realize that you don’t want to escalate the tension, but prefer to tone things down. You can set the pace this way for clearer and more amicable communication immediately. This is why it’s also vital to be slow to anger, and to get rid of this emotional state as quickly as possible, to avoid making foolish choices. Don’t go to bed angry with your spouse. Make sure you get back to good terms, as much as it is within your power to do so, before bed time. Don’t let anger lead you astray to sin.
A wrathful man stirs up strife,
But he who is slow to anger allays contention.
Proverbs 15:18 (NKJV).
25 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,”[a] for we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”:[b] do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil.
Ephesians 4:25-27 (NKJV).
Whether the problem is based on miscommunication, lies, or other elements of mistrust – both partners need to be good forgivers to succeed in the long term. No matter how flawless we might think we are in our relationships, we are often humbled by how easily misled or distrusting we can become. Things that are often easy explanations to our spouse become lies by omission or secrets that could eat away at a dating relationship or marriage.
Knowing your spouse forgives shouldn’t be a trigger for you to take advantage of their kindness. It should however give you the confidence to come clean in regards to any potential barriers that may form against the relationship. Solving these issues will draw you closer to one another long term, and it will provide you with new information about your spouses tendencies and habits. This knowledge will help you cope with their best times, worst times, and everything in between. You’ll have more tools to battle obstacles together, and help them in the midst of their weaknesses, while ideally they understand your shortcomings more as well.
While closeness is good, sometimes distance can be healthy. Did the argument in question cause both of you to lose your temper or yell? The words cannot be taken back, and the tone was mutually undesirable, but you still have the opportunity to rebuild. Immediate expressions of sorrow may come across as disingenuous or difficult to deliver. Spend a time apart from one another for a time, hopefully a brief time, so that you can both reflect on the problem, solution, and how you can move forward from where you’re at. To be sure, this period should not last too long, so that neither spouse would fall to temptation sexually or otherwise.
5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
1 Corinthians 7:5 (NKJV).
The other benefit of distance is to improve the quality of time together. If you both smother each other with continuous 24/7/365 companionship it’s going to likely feel a bit heavy even for the most synergistic of couples. Both members of the couple could benefit from hobbies that they can enjoy on their own. Does he like to golf while she likes to garden? Does he enjoy playing Poker with his friends while she goes out with hers for a Spa day? These might range from cheap to luxurious, but in the end the point is to enhance the quality time that you will once again enjoy together. To be clear it doesn’t mean you should stay long apart, and this also doesn’t infer that you shouldn’t have some enjoyable hobbies together. By all means enjoy life events together too, but common sense and understanding one another will make it clear what can be solo hobbies, and which should be enjoyed together.
Preventative ways to avoid turmoil may include agreement on money management. I have heard it said more than once that money is one of the issues couples both old and young argue about the most. There needs to be a foundation of trust and stewardship in order to avoid these. How much is tithed/donated? Will you each have personal bank accounts for incidentals or will you pool all your money together? Do you come together to approve major purchases? All these sorts of questions need to be analyzed together so that you would both be prepared for these inevitable scenarios.
Some ideas to explore in order to avoid financial disagreement are as follows: Targeting tangible goals that will ease your financial future together. Finding the best ROI (Return on Investment) opportunities. A diversified portfolio of stocks, where many have a dividend, would probably be a great place to put some of your net worth. If you are older, perhaps it’d be more prudent to choose conservative growth stocks. Having less stocks all together to make sure your savings aren’t compromised in the latter years of your life as retirement draws near. These issues need to be discussed as a team, and together you can find a way to manage your assets in a fiscally responsible way that honors God.
Finally, a sharing of household duties should also be considered. If you both work 9-5 jobs, it is unfair to expect either the man or the woman to take care of all the home related work. Think of who does things more efficiently. Who does laundry best? Maybe it’s her. Who does the cleaning of the dishes and throwing out the trash easiest? Maybe it’s him. Let these divisions of internal labor be known, and nobody should feel as though they are unfairly doing the bulk of the work without adequate help. The value of someone staying at home and handling household chores is in excess of $100,000 a year if you include taking care of children, cleaning, gardening, etc… If you’re both employed, you’ll have to find others to take care of these items. If one of you is fully employed and the other takes care of the housework, keep in perspective that both are working a great deal. The one who works at home is definitely pulling their weight.