It happens nearly every day in my office. In an attempt to explain their hurt and disappointments, husbands and wives fail at hearing the heart of the other’s concerns. They miss each other. Both parties become frustrated…and their further attempts to communicate only grow worse. Often, if I don’t intervene they end up yelling at each other, or giving up. In either case, feelings of despair grow larger. Every time I witness the above – I grieve. How terribly sad it is … for husbands and wives to fail at loving well when their spouse exposes the depths of their soul! These ought to be moments of the utmost care, but so often they are moments of carelessness.
Marriage was meant to be a glorious experience where one gives up his life for the other as Christ loved the church and died for her. And where she, being so caught up with his death defying love, seeks to honor him with everything she is. It is a relationship that is priceless; nothing meant for waste. Adam spoke of it when so enraptured by Eve, he exclaimed: “Alas this is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone!” It’s the kind of stuff we all long for but don’t really believe is possible. Maybe it’s not – to the degree of wonder before the Fall. But I fear most of us have sold ourselves well short of what our marital relationship could be.
At the core of every one of us we are “me-centered.” Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to communication. When my wife shares a hurt or frustration, me loving her well involves putting aside my internal reactions, and listening to her heart. I must ask myself: “What is the main thing she is trying to say? What is the cry of her heart?” Not – “where is she wrong? How can I defend myself?” And when I have a different take on it than her, I must realize that her perspective also has merit. Dying for her at that moment means validating her thoughts and feelings. It involves humility, patience, a willingness to ask forgiveness and to forgive. In turn, when I love well in the midst of a conflict, my wife most naturally desires to hear my perspective too. She almost joyfully listens well and validates my thoughts as I did hers. I say “joyfully” not in some kind of starry-eyed way but to reciprocate my love. She too knows the incredible value of our relationship and wants to treat it as such.
When it comes right down to it, loving each other well in communication is really quite simple. The Apostle Paul said it this way: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” Phil. 2:3 NASB