Dare to Speak a Different Language
“When I chose my wife, I didn't think of who I could live with — but who I didn't want to live without. And this was an easy decision for me. I did not want to live my life without her.”
Creflo Dollar - Married since 1986
Spoken words move us in a direction. It’s how we were created. God started the universe with words. Do you remember the first time you said I love you? Or maybe the first time you said divorce? Earth shattering. It shook your soul. Words can transport us to a new place. Words have power. They can alter our future, change our perspective, and move mountains. The world has taught us how to speak, but frankly, it is the wrong language. The contravening speech we are surrounded with divides us. What if we dared to speak a different language? Would it really matter? Can changing the words we say transport us somewhere new? Can words create a life we hate or a life we love?
There is a secret language that can catapult our marriage into a place higher than we thought possible; a marriage that is more than we can ask, think, dream, or imagine. In this book we dare to speak a different language. We are going to be learning many easy to remember principles to God’s best for your life. We will be revisiting often the idea that the language we are speaking is directing our outcome. How do we talk about each other? How do we talk to each other? Do we talk?
We are going to begin this book by addressing how we communicate since what comes out of our mouths has so much power. Words can build up or tear down. What we say has the power of life and death. In the next chapter we will look at renewing our marriage. You may feel like renewal happens first, but be patient. This first practical approach to get us talking is going to stir in a great deal of hope for your future. After this we will continue through the book as we unlock principle after principle that will lead you down some very simple roads towards the milk and honey God has for your marriage. First things first though, let us look at our communication by introducing a simple problem.
He wants to know what you are thinking…
She wants to know where you are going…
My wife and I both find this problem exists nearly across the board in relationships. It is a much boiled down statement, but significant and important to address. He doesn’t really know what you want, and she doesn’t really know where you are going. This can be solved. Studies have shown that the vast majority of fights in a marriage are directly related to simple poor communication. We just aren’t talking.
Have you ever found yourself saying some of these things?
He doesn’t know the kids routines/lives.
He forgets everything.
His family is annoying.
We need a plan, there is no plan!!!
What did she buy?
Sometimes I just want a thank you; she is so ungrateful!
He makes me feel worthless, unattractive.
She makes me feel dumb, unwanted.
He helps wrong – That’s not how you wash dishes! Did I marry a 2 year old?
He doesn’t just listen; instead he’s always trying to fix me.
He’s unhappy and I don’t know why.
She’s changing, and I don’t know what is happening.
I don’t know what she wants.
I don’t know where he’s going.
So let’s talk about talking. Remember when you were first discovering each other? Dating. It was those deep conversations lying in the grass staring at the stars. “What do you want from this life?” We were digging in to the desires of each other’s hearts. But now life is crazy. The only reason we lie down in the grass is because we tripped over the toy little Jimmy forgot to put away. “JIMMMY!” At some point we stopped sharing the big things. There isn’t time, and if I have time to lie down, it’s because I’m sleeping.
And so we are not talking. Usually one of the spouses is okay with not talking. This is because if we aren’t talking it all is getting pent up inside. Then suddenly, when we finally are talking, we fight. So for some it’s just easier to not talk; less pressure. But if we don’t talk enough it can get serious. And so it finally happens, the dreaded, “We need to talk.” Uh oh. The “We need to talk” talk happens because we haven’t been talking all along.
Then we talk it all out sometimes, and then everything is better for a little while.
“Are you guys doing better?”
“Yeah… we talked.”
What we need is to put our talking into a routine.
If you want to get in shape you need a routine. You need a set time you work out every week. You will need a work out plan that is repeating. “Bi’s and tri’s on Monday and Thursday, chest and legs on Wednesday and Friday.” A planned work out that repeats creates momentum towards your goal. If you don’t set up a routine and only try and work out “when you can,” well, you and I both know, it will never happen. The work out, though you want to do it and you want the result, will get drowned out by the random life.
There is a couple who were buying many things on credit because they could afford the payments. They both worked days. The money was just barely enough each month, but he could relieve that pressure by picking up an extra shift on Sundays and switching his shift to nights. After about six months of this they realized the marriage had lost some flavor, some buzz. There was a lot of snipping at each other. He was tired a lot. She was feeling neglected. He was doing it for her, to give her the best life he could. He was tired and felt unappreciated. What was more important to her than having nice things was having time with her husband. He had led them somewhere she did not want to go. Now they were in crisis mode. She had grown close to a guy she worked with. She could vent on him.
So I asked her, “What do you want?” She wanted her husband to not have to work nights. He replied, “Well, I don’t want to work nights, but I did it for you.” Problem solved. Neither wants him to work nights. They began working out toward what they both wanted. You see the problem was as simple as just not identifying what each other wanted. Talking.
I knew another couple who called and asked me what I thought about his wife transferring in her profession as a lawyer to traveling the world setting up new law offices on behalf of the partnership. She was going to do it. He was against it. What did I think? It really doesn’t matter what I think, I told them. What does your wife want? The new position wasn’t offering more money, so what was calling to her? I asked him to really drive in to his wife’s heart about this. “You have to find out what the goal is in her heart. What does she want? She may not really fully know what she wants. The deep desires of our own hearts sometimes require digging,” I explained. God and she want her to have the desires of her heart, and you do too. What is that desire? She has developed a solution to something, but to what? To fulfill what desire?
She wanted to see the world. She wanted vacations. Uh-oh. They were not taking vacations. He was always saying, “There is no time for a vacation.” They would get a three day weekend at the most, and always somewhere convenient. Once this came out, they were able to decide that the new position wasn’t the right solution, but that he needed to take her to Fiji (or something). He began to look at exotic far away lands with her and get himself mentally adjusted to fulfill the dreams of his wife’s heart. Now don’t get me wrong, they didn’t just turn their life into a vacation every month, but a nice new location a couple times a year became a catalyst in their marriage for newness, romance, and growth. In fact, just setting the goal and having hope for the future immediately transformed their marriage.
Principle 1: Dare to speak the language of your desires.
I recommend a weekly meeting. I know, I know, it sounds so not spontaneous or romantic. It sounds so corporate. So don’t take my meaning that way. This is about discovering desires and developing momentum towards the desires in your heart. What we want from this life will change constantly, but communicate your desires. Ladies, your husband really does want to know what you want. It will help him figure out where to go. There is great passion in discovery. You will find great romance in reinvention. Since we are each always changing, and each new season unlocks new things God has placed in us, we are going to be digging around for the desires in each other, finding where those desires merge, and helping each other get there. Now that sounds like a great meeting, doesn’t it? Here we look at the simple questions:
- So what does she want?
- Where is he going?
Ladies, so often we just don’t know what you really want. We will do it, but we need to know what it is. Husbands, can you just tell us where you are going? Is there some sort of plan?
Imagine that a couple is in a car headed somewhere:
He asks his wife as he pulls out into traffic, “Where do you want to eat?” It is an example of identifying what she wants. He has to ask.
She looks at her phone to see an incoming message and replies sounding a bit distracted, “Oh, I don’t care.” Hmm, he still doesn’t know what she wants.
“Okay, burger or Mexican food?” He presses her.
“I want something new.” He’s is slowing down for the next light, a loud motorcycle is right on his tail. “Figures.” He says annoyingly.
“What?” She demands as she looks up from her phone. From her expression he can tell something just went wrong.
“Oh, no,” eyebrows are climbing into his hair and with a flustered tone he states, “I meant the guy behind me. He’s all up in my business.”
“Where are you going? Where are we?” She asks.
And so the drive is happening. Two people going somewhere. He wants to know what she wants. She wants to know where he has taken them. I find this very simple misunderstanding at the heart of many marriage issues. There is an easy fix. Dare to speak the language of your desires.
Schedule a time once per week where there is a leadership meeting in your marriage. Have a devoted communicating time. Just like you wouldn’t miss a work meeting, or be late, you need a family leadership meeting. You need a romantic date every week as well, but this is not that meeting. Imagine a business where the leadership never meets because they are all too busy. So then one leader is busy working up data on a spreadsheet and the phone is ringing. Who is calling now? The other leader, his partner, is calling. No time to talk now. He answers, but she begins asking about something completely unrelated and wants a meeting. But now is not a good time. This company will not do well. This company will be bankrupt soon. Marriages that don’t meet often find themselves feeling bankrupt.
Imagine a business where the leaders are communicating. The partners meet once per week to look at the vision, the goal, and the results. What do we want? Are we making progress? What can be done with our five-year-old and his misbehaving? Our teenage son, Ted, may need a science tutor. I don’t like the look in the guest bath, can we paint it? When? I am out of town for work the second week in May. Isn’t that when your sister Tanya is due to have her baby?
A great time to meet is early in the morning, before kids get up. Make her some eggs and coffee. Be up an hour early and communicate. Talk about dreams. Talk about desires and wants. Pray for the impossible. Keep a list of what you are up to. Have a calendar ready and communicate what is happening in each of your worlds. A husband and a wife have plenty to talk about. In the next chapter we want to talk about this meeting, some tips and tricks to making it successful and some insight to why communication can seem so impossible even when it isn’t.
Proverbs 11:14 (NIV) For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.
Here the advisors met. It is the same for your family. Victory comes through taking the time to sort through things and advise each other.
Consider that the trash man shows up on Tuesdays. Every Tuesday. Imagine if the trash truck couldn’t come every Tuesday, but they were getting to your house when there was time. Sometimes it’s Wednesdays. Sometimes the truck didn’t come that week. In the confusion you left your can out a day late. In my house, just one week of missed trash pickup and we are overflowing. We get stopped up. The backyard where the cans sit begins to smell. This is happening in marriages when there are no routines. We get stopped up. It really has nothing to do with how hard each is trying, or how much each loves each other; it is just a matter of busy life.
You need a weekly meeting. Yes, I mean weekly. Your weekly communication meeting needs to be on the schedule as a set routine. I know a couple who goes to breakfast and then a short hike or walk every Friday morning. They have a system that works for the kids that day, and work has it handled so they come in just a bit later. Since they started doing this, they have noted a massive change in misunderstandings, fights, confusion, and also their attitudes and energy. After just a few months things in the relationship started to change. The direction of marriage, health, finances, and children, all of it began to gain momentum. It’s not a date. It is a meeting. On your date you can refrain from errands and discussing the busy-ness of life, and instead you can be romantic. If there is no meeting we often vomit a bunch of communication on the date, which is a quick way to ruin that date, and get some future dates cancelled. No, the date is different than the meeting. The meeting figures out desires and direction. What does she want? Where is he going?
So, you’ve scheduled your weekly meeting. Your marriage is your marriage, so how you do this will be on you, what works for you, but I do offer some simple guidelines and wisdom. First, let us talk about listening!
Principle 2: The Secret Language of Listening
The most giving and selfless part of communication is listening. This is a secret lost language, the form of communication where one doesn’t speak, but engages to pursue what the other is truly trying to convey.
Romans 10:17 (NIV) Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Our covenant with God is not held together by love, but by faith. He loves us. He poured His love into us. Without His love we cannot love in His way. His love casts out fear and never fails. But it is our faith that accesses the covenant with God. Our faith in Jesus is why we are in covenant with the Living God. Faith. Likewise, marriage is a covenant. Our covenant in marriage is also not held together by love. Lots of people loved each other but were divorced. The separation happens as we stop believing in each other. You stop believing that your spouse is right for you, or can ever make you truly happy. You stop believing they love you, or have been faithful. These are deal breakers for most. The covenant of marriage, it is held together by faith. It is glued together by believing in one another. When you believe in your spouse you release the power that is in them to invade your life. It is the same as you believe in God. Your faith in God releases His power into your world. Faith.
Faith comes by hearing. Talking is important too, but I want you to understand the magnitude of hearing. Hearing will birth faith in you. You know your husband loves you, but then he looks into your soul, he stops joking around for one second, and he grabs your hand with his hands firmly but lovingly, and spins you into facing him. Suddenly you are flashing back to a moment with him when you were dating, your heart is pounding, and he says, “Baby, I really do love you.” Fireworks. Did you hear him? Faith was just now built. She may know it, but man, she needs to hear it.
Listening, then, is key.
1 John 4:7 (TPT) “Those who are loved by God, let his love continually pour from you to one another, because God is love. Everyone who loves is fathered by God and experiences an intimate knowledge of him.”
Everyone wants to be respected and valued for who they are. You are a unique person, with unique gifts and unique talents. People gain value and feel loved when we take time to hear them. This is especially true in marriage. When we seek to listen to others we seek to understand and not to judge. I correlate listening to compassion. When Jesus was moved with compassion, he was moved to listen to the needs of the people. It was Jesus who took a whole different route to Jerusalem, went through Samaria, just to talk to a woman at the well. She was hurting, broken, and probably completely hated who she was. But, Jesus came and listened to her. He was more interested in the matters of her heart than anything else. He knew what would change her life; the living waters that never run dry. Jesus loved her in this moment. We can draw on that same love that God has poured into our lives. God is love and His love is poured into our lives daily. When we take the time and listen, we step into love.
What is it that makes someone a good listener? First, they’re present. A Greek philosopher, Epictetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.” A great listener is mindful of where they are and who they are talking to. When you are fully aware of the moment, you are more likely to retain what you’re hearing and in turn you will naturally respond with more authenticity. This means stashing the phones and ridding yourself of all distractions. I call it going airplane mode. (My brother and I actually call it this.) When you fly on an airplane they make you put your phone into airplane mode during the take-off and landing. This cuts down on some kind of interference, or is maybe just the airlines way of annoying all of us. Airplane mode means your phone will not receive any data, messages, or phone calls. It is literally useless in airplane mode. It cannot distract you. You cannot surf social networking or text or make a call. When you refuse any outside distraction because of what you are up to, this is airplane mode. Make your conversation with your spouse “airplane mode.” Put that thing down. Our phones can be so loud in our lives. They vibrate or make a sound and no matter what we are doing we are suddenly compelled to look at them. If someone is talking to you, you could be totally still listening, but as you look at your device you appear as though something is more important than they are. This isn’t true. Of course it isn’t true, but it is what it looks like. You may be one of those people that can totally hold a conversation while texting, and I applaud that. Still, imagine the value someone feels when you take the conversation airplane mode. You are saying, “I am interested in what you are saying, I am listening, and I’m not about to let anything distract me from that.”
Great listeners are empathetic. Part of effective listening is the effort to empathize with the person you’re speaking with. Whether you can relate or not, the compassion won’t go unnoticed. As you are listening, spend a moment putting yourself in their position. What’s going on in their head? What must it be like to be them? And, as you are listening, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you understanding.
Proverbs 5:1 (NIV) “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.”
We need the Holy Spirit to reveal to us understanding and to show us the other person’s deepest needs. We are able to listen to his or her true feelings, to discern them, and to understand. Let the wise listen and add to their understanding. The understanding comes by the listening. Jesus was the truest picture of a great listener. He had compassion for everyone. Listening helps meet the deepest need of a man and a woman which is to feel loved, wanted, and accepted.
A great listener realizes their own shortcomings. This may be a strange way of thinking, but accepting YOURSELF is a key to being a good listener. I may not always have the answer when I’m listening to my spouse. And, I’m ok with that. But, I may be the bridge to the answer. Sometimes the best answer is prayer. You don’t have to solve your spouse’s problems or situations. You just need to point them in the right direction. And that’s ALWAYS Jesus.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV) Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. 2And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…
When we focus on Jesus, He will always take us to the place of victory in our lives. He will always lead you in the right direction. You don’t have to have some great answer. The greatest answer is turning to prayer and to Jesus. Every conversation you have isn’t going to solve the larger issue. But it puts you closer to understanding each other. Again, when we are listening, we are seeking to understand. Draw on the Holy Spirit to gain perspective, wisdom, and understanding. And, you know, sometimes you just need to listen to your spouse and that’s it. Just listen. I have found this with our children. Sometimes they just need you to listen to them. I have found this with our daughter.
She exclaims to me, “Mom! I don’t need you to solve the problem; I just want to tell you what’s going on!”
She just needed me to listen. Once she gives me the problem, I can now pray that she finds the answer. I don’t need to be her Jesus. Again, the solution will always be pointing them to Jesus, the Word.
Effective communicating and listening isn’t just lending your ear, but asking appropriate follow-up questions to draw out more information. So, what you’re saying is...So let me make sure I’m hearing you correctly…Is this what you’re saying?
Funny thing is, sometimes what we hear is not what they’re saying.
Husband: “So, what you’re saying is this…”
Wife: “That’s not even close to what I said. This is what I said…”
Remember we are seeking to understand the other person. This does take time and practice. I still to this day, after twenty five years of learning my husband, will ask follow up questions! Half the time I will hear my spouse correctly, the other half of the time they will have to correct my interpretation.
Another aspect to effective listening is practicing the art of self-control over your own mouth. It’s easy to want to jump into a conversation and completely derail the entire thing! Have you ever been talking to someone, they asked you the question, you are responding, and in the middle of your response they jump in, “Oh, this one time I was just standing at the…”? You literally did not finish your thought or explanation, and now you are watching a completely different film featuring them! A great listener will allow the other to fully speak what they desire, keeping in my mind how they will want to respond, but not interrupting to get their voice heard.
Do you know what happens when you allow a person to fully express their conversation to you? Their heart is revealed to you. Look at Matthew 12:34 (NKJV) where Jesus said, “…for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” When our son Mathew was about 14 years old, we noticed that he just didn’t seem himself. He seemed to be carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. He was grumpy and snippy with all of us. This went on for several days.
“What’s your problem??”
“Nothing!” He snapped back.
This was very unusual behavior for him. He’s the super goofy and really outgoing kid in our home. So, Kelli and I said to him, “We need to talk!” We went up to his room and we started asking him questions. What’s going on Mat? Are you ok? Is something going on in school? Are you dealing with a drama with a friend? What is it? All he kept saying to us was, “No,” to every single question. I think he knew we weren’t leaving his room until we got an answer. Then the Holy Spirit kicked in. “You know, Mat, we just want the very best for you in your life. We think that you are the greatest, smartest, most talented, super good looking, kid around.” All of a sudden, it was like the wall around his heart came down, and the flood began to happen. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth spoke. And we just sat there. We didn’t comment and we didn’t interrupt. We allowed the issues of the heart to be exposed. Now we knew the things he had been dealing with. And, now we could point him to Jesus. Once he had exposed it all, we now were able to correct.
This leads me to the next point. A good listener is not on the defensive. Not all things you are going to hear are going to be a thornless rose garden filled with ice cream vendors. Effective listeners don’t block out negative criticism. Instead they listen and develop an understanding of what the person is trying to convey, before responding.
James 1:19 (NIV) …Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
In addition to not playing defense, embrace every emotion during your conversations. Embrace even the feelings of discomfort or anger. Some of the greatest breakthroughs in my life in the area of relationships are when I got really uncomfortable; when I allowed my guard to come down and I listened to the people in my life. It got super uncomfortable because I allowed the other person to honestly reveal their heart to me. And in that moment, I can correct what may have been a misunderstanding or ask forgiveness of something I’ve done or said to bring hurt into their life.
Next, not only do we need to become expert listeners, but we also need to know and understand the desires of our lover. This can be tricky. God wants to give us the desires of our heart, that is, He placed those desires in there, and it is how He gets us to partner with what He wants to do. In this it becomes important to go digging for desire. What I mean is, often we don’t actually know what we want, and in what order those desires land. Asking questions to help each other find what they truly desire becomes important and rewarding. If you want to dig around and really know someone, begin to ask them about what they want in this life. What is important to you?
When a husband asks his wife, “Baby, what do you truly want?”
“I just want to feel loved,” She says. Or “I feel like the kids are growing up to fast!” Or “I am tired of never having enough.”
Now the two can develop a plan to help move in that direction. If she’s tired of not having enough, maybe you guys can start figuring out a way to start that business, even if you have to start super small. Does she not feel loved? Ask her what you can do to make her feel what you know to be true. “I want our family in church.” Well jeez, that’s not a big one. You just didn’t know it was so important, that it was a desire of her heart. Husbands are great at goals and solutions. Wives are great at identifying opportunities for strengthening. Communication will make a big difference here. This means a main priority for each is to identify and actively involve yourself in helping the other attain the desire of their heart. There is a deep desire in you already, a God-given desire, to give your spouse their desires.
In 2018 we celebrated our son Logan’s 11th birthday at Disneyland. We were in California on vacation, and Disney is always a must for our family. The family enjoyed an incredible day of short lines and churros. Toward the end of the day Logan said he wanted to see the early showing of the much sought after “Fantasmic.” Almost everyone wants to see this show, and viewing space is limited. The show is outside, so you just find a spot in the park where you can see, and then you stand and wait for it to begin. If you want a decent spot, you show up about two hours early. Attending this show means crowds, massive, massive, crowds. (And yes, we know all about fast passes, we are pros.) If you haven’t heard, over the years we have learned about the dining experiences that can reserve you a really good spot to see some of the bigger shows. These dining experiences need reservations months in advance. We didn’t have a reservation… so we prayed. We walked up to one of the restaurants at around five in the afternoon to see if they had a table open for the show at eight that night. The employee at first flashed an eye roll at our request, “Sir, these tables are reserved in advance and… (pause as she looks at her notebook), wait, is this right?” She asks the employee next to her. There was a cancellation. A table for five had just opened up for the show. Perfect.
We ate wonderfully, then sat and enjoyed a crowd free experience of “Fantasmic.” Just as the show ended the fireworks started, and the table we were at seemed to be a perfect. We saw it all! After the fireworks, Logan looks at me with a dreamy look in his eyes and a smile frozen to his face. He had my full attention. He spoke in staccato, spacing his words out perfectly, “BEST – BIRTHDAY – EVER!” Those three words made an eternal impression in my heart. A trophy. We won. I want this same reaction from my wife as we stand in eternity before Jesus. I want her to look at Jesus and say “BEST – HUSBAND – EVER.” Make that a desire. Make that a goal.
So on to the mechanics of our meeting: Start your meeting with prayer. I recommend you make a basic list of things you are praying over every week. You might pray for things like your children, that they have the right friends, and that their future spouse is set apart for them. Pray for health and safety. Pray over your finances. There are many books on effective prayer. Pick some up and read about how Jesus taught us to pray. After adding something new to the prayer list one of us will find a Scripture that has something to do with our prayer. For instance, when we pray for our kids we declare, “Lord, you said you would bless us and our children. We are standing in faith for our children because we know you are faithful to your promise.”
It is beneficial to pray the Scripture, to have faith, and to declare God’s promises into your family. I know a couple who made a list to pray at my advice. The list said things like “Help my husband not be so selfish.” So, yeah, not that kind of list. Prayer gets us into hope!
Next, do some goal setting. Goal setting is important for success and movement in every situation. Whether you’re playing sports or starting a business, goals get us up in the morning. Goals should be on your weekly meeting list, and not crossed off until they are attained. Goals are broken into tasks that each can work on. “Hey can you make the call this week to get that reservation? I’ll go online and search for the football pads to see if we can save some money there. What if we train Johnny to do his own laundry? I mean, he’s fifteen-years-old now. He can do it. Heck, he does trigonometry. That way when he runs out of shirts, well, it’s on him. Oh, can you call the dentist today?”
Have some goals you discuss. Focus on the movement towards those goals. Stay hopeful. Ask each other questions like, “What can we do this week to move us toward these things?” Maybe you want to work on little Johnny’s math grades. How are you going to do that? What night do you have time? Get out a calendar and look at dates of things coming up. Many times we double book things and create all kinds of fights just from not telling each other what is going on.
Husbands, be aware that a wife is greatly moved by things that are moving in a hopeful direction. My wife lived in a house with no furniture for almost two years. During this time I was paying down all of our years of dating debt. As long as my wife saw progress on that debt, and had furniture magazines to look at, or was perusing through furniture stores to get ideas, she was great. People can wait as long as they see movement.
Discuss solutions. Notice I didn’t say to discuss problems. Really, I’m saying to try your best to bring up problems as opportunities. Now this may sound really impossible, but it isn’t. You still need this time to discuss how her mom is really upsetting you, or how you are sick of driving that cruddy broken car. There are problems, and we need to meet about them, but how you say it matters. Listen, you’re finally communicating, don’t mess that up! We all naturally avoid discomfort. For this reason we are looking for a positive and hopeful time at the meeting. You won’t keep meeting if the meeting is just a mudslinging festival. Keep the gloves up at all costs. There is a time for complaining and expressing anger, but not at the meeting. By all means, have a good fight some other time, when it’s fresh and raw, but not at the meeting. You want to be solutions minded, pray about problems, worries, anxious things. Pray about the future. Give to God those things that appear impossible. Encourage one another. Find a way to solve the recurring problems permanently.
Your goal for your meeting is about your spouse! What I mean is their goals become your goals. We need to keep the walls down and the gates wide open. Remember we enter gates with thanksgiving in our hearts. We enter the courts with praise. If you want to dig for the wants and desires in your spouse, you do it through thanksgiving and praise. If you have thirty things to complain about and can think of only one thing you are thankful for, well, go with the one. A simple way to keep your spouse open is when:
He feels wanted, successful, believed in, trusted, and confident in where he is going.
She feels valued, safe, attractive, hopeful, and understood in what she wants.
Last, having a meeting agenda is very important. This will record your goals, your prayer list, and anything that you thought of during the time between meetings. As your week goes on things will come up that need to be in the meeting. If possible, just jot them down on your agenda to be addressed later. Timing happens to be one of the most complained about communication issues in marriage. A husband is watching sports (classic example) and she suddenly wants to have a 30 minute conversation about how she is thinking of quitting her job next week. She feels like he values a bunch of men dressed like twinkies playing catch more than the mother of his children. He is annoyed because he had an hour before the game started to talk while she was staring at her phone. If it’s a common fight, then beat it once and for all. Never have this fight again. Husband, turn off the tv immediately to let her know she is the most important thing in your life. Wives, put it down on the agenda and let it go. Let him turn his show back on. Maybe make him some popcorn.
A much better example than this though… A husband is at work and she calls. “What is your plan with little Jimmy?! Do you know what he did this morning???!”
He’s derailed. He’s thinking, “Seriously? Now? You want to do this now?” Men are very laser focused. One thing at a time. At the job we really are designed to be in warrior mode, hunting and taking over the world. My mind leaves the house about an hour before I do, as I prepare for success that day. A man’s mind develops momentum as it ponders a certain thing. This is why sometimes it might seem to our wives we can’t hear. We seem incapable of multi-tasking. You see, when you burst into that question, your husband was half way through his work presentation that he is giving next week. He was doing it all in his mind. Let’s see, if I give the analysis first, and then go to my statement, it might sound like… Suddenly his eyes rifle to lock with yours saying, “Wait, sorry, what, what did you just say?” Later when you’re at work you suddenly remembered something you need to discuss with him and so you reach out to him on the phone. It isn’t that he doesn’t want to field your phone call or text at 10am, and it also has nothing to do with how much he loves you or thinks about you. He is just built to thwart distractions. If at all possible put new problems or discussions on the agenda for your next scheduled meeting. You will avoid many fights by putting things that can wait onto your agenda. In this way you are guaranteed to have uninterrupted scheduled time to really discuss the problem. After adding it to the agenda, let it go. I still think you should call and say, “Hey I’m just leaving for work now, Jimmy has some issues I want to talk about at our meeting on Friday, but don’t worry about it for now, go kick it today honey, knock it out. You’re the best!”
A meeting agenda can help you have a much more positive week in your marriage. There will be some things that can’t wait, of-course. But if you can limit the number of fires that are blowing up throughout the week, and move much of the discussion to your weekly meeting, your conversations will make a natural move away from the business of the family, and have time to explore the treasure of the family. You will leave behind the language of the family business dominating every conversation, and give space to the language of love. When this happens, something quite magical invades your family atmosphere, and you will find it magnetic.
In this chapter we created a plan for intentionally talking and meeting that if followed can eliminate more than 50% of marriage conflict. That’s big. We are learning to speak a new kind of language, one that most will neglect or see as frivolous, but not you. God is showing you even now the power of hope and desire working in your relationship. The happiest marriage in the world can be yours, and it is a gift from God. In love. One. In the next chapter we delve into renewing, resetting, and repositioning your relationship for victory. Are you ready? Great, here we go