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Our facial expressions, tone of voice and body language all contribute to what people are hearing us say. We can mean to say one thing but communicate something entirely different. That is why it is important for us to be sensitive to what we communicate through our actions, not just our words.

This is true in all our relationships and especially in our marriage relationship.

Verbal communication is important between a husband and wife, and good communication skills help build a strong relationship. On the other hand, lack of good communication skills can cause problems—even in the simplest of situations.

There are various types of communication that need to be developed between couples in order to establish and maintain a healthy marriage. I believe that good communication is vital to the health of any marriage—including everything from sharing practical information to resolving differences and confiding the secrets of our hearts.

Some communication is simply for the purpose of sharing clear information. This avoids a lot of confusion and misunderstanding.

For example, my husband and I constantly emphasize the need for communication between employees at the ministry. Failing to communicate information effectively in an office can cause all kinds of problems.

I believe the shared responsibilities of a husband and wife also call for clear communication of information. Sometimes we don't realize how much sharing information affects the plans of the people we live and work with. When you and I fail to share necessary information with our spouse, we are communicating that we are not considerate of their time and schedule.

For instance, I believe it is much better for a wife to remind her husband of their son's ball game than to have him miss it. I also think it's important for a husband to let his wife know ahead of time that he will be working late or unable to attend an event due to a change in his schedule.

When we give little reminders of things that need to be done, like stopping at the store to pick something up or attending special events, it lets our spouse know we're being considerate of their time and schedule.

If we want to get good at something, we have to practice and the same holds true for communication. Sharing information may not be the most personal form of communication, but it is necessary and shows that we care about our mate's life and paves the way for deeper fellowship.

Some communication is simply for the purpose of fellowship and takes place just by talking together. While sharing information is more like talking at each other, fellowship is talking with each other.

When we share our most intimate hopes and concerns with our spouse, we build a mutual trust and admiration that bonds us together. This is not a time to establish our own personal agenda—it is simply a time for a friendly exchange of ideas and conversation. When you and I give our spouse the gift of undivided attention, it fills our need for companionship with each other.

Sometimes I'll ask Dave to come and sit down with me while we have a cup of coffee. These are good opportunities to keep the lines of communication open by taking an interest in the things your spouse is involved in. I can provoke a lot of good conversation with my husband just by asking one simple question such as, "When does baseball season begin?"

Sports may not be my favorite topic but I know it is one of his. So I have taken a sincere interest in it. It shows him that I care about what he cares about. I believe if we take an interest in the things our mate is interested in, God will give us a true desire for it and we'll grow closer to each other.

Fellowshipping With Your Spouse
Enjoying fellowship requires both talking and listening. Practice giving your spouse your undivided attention as often as you can. I believe spending regular time communicating with our mate at this level can make it much easier to deal with problems when they come up.

Communicating to solve problems is indeed a fine art. Conflict is a part of everyone's life, so how we deal with it is important. The inability to deal with conflicts in a Christ-like manner is often a major source of problems in our marriages.

One of the most important things to be aware of when we are addressing a conflict is timing. We can get ourselves into a lot of trouble by barreling into things without waiting for God's timing. However, if we are constantly trying to avoid conflict—even allowing things to continue that we know God is telling us to deal with—we can also get into trouble.

Ecclesiastes 3:7 says there's a time to speak and a time to be silent. That doesn't mean we should never talk about problems. It just means we need to look for the right time to discuss a problem if we want our concerns to be heard fairly.

In the past, as soon as a problem arose between my husband and I, I would want to sit down and talk about it right then and there. I wanted to deal with it "now" and not let anyone leave until the problem was solved.

Thankfully, God has taught me how to be sensitive to His Spirit in finding the balance between avoiding confrontations and confronting things too quickly. I have finally learned to pray first by saying, "God, is this the right time?" If I wait for God's timing, then I know His power to resolve our conflicts will be present.

Lamb...Or Lion?
Another important element of effective communication is for you and your spouse to understand how your personality types approach conflict. We need to examine ourselves to see whether we are the type of person who likes to instantly confront, like a lion, or if we are more like a lamb and want to hold back and not deal with issues.

Throughout the New Testament we see Jesus acting in two contrasting ways. Like a lion, He confronted the money changers in the temple, knocking their tables over and giving them firm correction.' Like a lamb, we see Jesus standing before the Jewish leaders, falsely accused without speaking one word in His defense.

Isaiah 53:7 says of Jesus:
He was oppressed, [yet when] He was afflicted, He was submissive and opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.
It's not easy to resist defending ourselves when we have been misunderstood or falsely accused. Lion personalities, like mine, have to learn to hold back and wait on God. Lamb personalities have to learn to speak up in obedience to God's leading—whether they want to or not.

When we need to communicate with someone concerning confrontational issues, we should first pray for God's grace and mercy to anoint us as lion-hearted lambs. Then we need to wait until the Holy Spirit helps us find balance in our perspective and approach to the situation.

The key to improvement is to learn to confront when God says to confront and to leave an issue alone when He says to leave it alone. When God does tell us to confront something in our marriage, or in any relationship, we need to do it in love.

I believe dealing with difficult issues in love is the surest way of enjoying peace in our relationships. First Peter 4:8 says that love covers wrongdoing. In other words, when there is an issue between us and our spouse, we deal with it privately.

This helps us avoid building walls of offense between us. Bringing up issues in public only serves to humiliate our spouse. Matthew 18:15 instructs us to go privately to someone who offends us—that is what we would want them to do for us.

You Have Faults, Too!
Another thing that helps us confront in love is to realize that we have faults of our own. We need to humble ourselves and realize that without God's grace we could fall into the same temptation. With this understanding, we can gently approach our spouse or anybody we may have conflict with. Our motivation should be to let them see God's great love for them—not to tear them down.

My husband and I have learned to pray and wait for God to confirm the need and the timing before we confront each other. Then, when we believe that He is leading us to bring something up, we begin by acknowledging the fact that we too struggle with areas of weakness.

But, because we believe that is what God wants us to do and because we love each other, we choose to share what we are feeling and work through it together.

Humility and love express conflict in a totally different way than when we arrogantly stand before somebody with a critical attitude and read off a list of everything that we think is wrong with them.

A humble and loving attitude expresses correction not only with the purpose of restoring fellowship and peace between marriage partners, but also with a desire to see God have His way in our spouse's life—to bless them and make them more like Christ.

The Bible says that the process of a man and woman becoming one is a profound mystery, but it is meant to reveal the heart of Christ for His church. So stop and think about it: Does the communication between you and your spouse reflect the kind of love Jesus has for the church?

Do you love each other by being considerate of your spouse's time and schedule and keeping them informed to help make their life a little easier? Are you expressing the love of Christ by just wanting to be with them, talking about what they are interested in and being willing to share your heart with them?

And finally, are you showing them God's love by the way you confront them when it is necessary?

Your marriage is meant to be a blessing not only to you but to the people around you. It is one of the ways God creates a picture for people to see how much He loves them.

The way we communicate—words, actions and attitudes—puts the love of God on display for everyone around us. Learn God's way of communicating and you can use your words to help paint a picture of God's love for everyone to see!

Joyce Meyer Ministries All rights reserved.

Author Biography

Joyce Meyer
Web site: Joyce Meyer Ministries
Joyce Meyer is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. A New York Times bestselling author, her books have helped millions of people find hope and restoration through Jesus Christ. Through Joyce Meyer Ministries, she teaches on a number of topics with a particular focus on the mind, mouth, moods and attitudes. Her candid communication style allows her to share openly and practically about her experiences so others can apply what she has learned to their lives.

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