“We Just Can’t Seem to Talk!”
MICHAEL, a lawyer, had to be a dynamic communicator. His job demanded it. But after 16 years of marriage, Michael was forced to recognize that when he came home to his wife, Adrian, his communication skills seemed to vanish. “Carping, picking, throwing little innuendoes around,” Michael recalls, “Adrian and I were always at each other, and I thought it was just going to wear us out. I wondered if that was marriage, the continual barrage of discontent and aggravation. If that was to be our lot for the rest of our lives together, I wanted to bail out—no kidding. I just couldn’t face 20, 30, 40 years of that kind of constant aggravation and tension.”
Sentiments like this are by no means unique to Michael and Adrian. They are reality for many couples whose relationship alternates between combat and cease-fire. The simplest conversations erupt into verbal warfare. They “hear” things that are not said. They say things that are not meant. They attack and accuse, then retreat into resentful silence. They do not separate, but neither are they truly “one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) The relationship is deadlocked. Moving backward would mean splitting up; moving forward would mean confronting differences head-on. To avoid the pain of either choice, these couples resign themselves to keeping at a safe emotional distance from each other.
Such couples need to ‘acquire skillful direction’ in their marriage. (Proverbs 1:5) This direction is available in God’s Word, the Bible. Paul’s second letter to Timothy affirms that the Bible is “beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight.” (2 Timothy 3:16) This proves to be the case in healing the breakdown in marital communication, as we shall see.