So We Can Talk More Good

I was reviewing parts of Wayne Mack’s Strengthening Your Marriage and came across this helpful list of “twelve practical suggestions for developing and maintaining good marital communications.” I believe it would apply well to other relationships as well. (If you don’t have it, Mack’s book is a great resource for couples – please consider buying and using it!)

1. When there are problems, each must be willing to admit that he/she is part of the problem. (Gen. 8:8-19; Pro. 20:6)

2. Each person must be willing to change. (John 5:6; Mt. 5:23-26)

3. Avoid the use of emotionally charged words. “You don’t really love me.” “You always do…” “You never do anything right.” “I don’t care.”

4. Be responsible for your own emotions, words, actions, and reactions. Don’t blame them on the other person. You got angry, lashed out, became depressed, etc. (Gal. 6:5; Jas. 1:13-15)

5. Refrain from having reruns on old arguments. (Eph. 4:26)

6. Deal with one problem at a time. Solve one problem and then move on to the next. (Mt. 6:34)

7. Deal in the present and not in the past. Hang a “no fishing” sign over the past unless it will help you to solve your present problems. (Phil. 3:12-14; Jer. 31:34; Isa. 43:25)

8. Major on the positive instead of majoring on the negative. (Phil. 4:8)

9. Learn to communicate in non-verbal ways. (Mt. 8:1-2, 14-15; Ps.32:8)

10. Express your thoughts and concerns to each other. Relate your activities. Listen, understand and respond to the meaning behind what a person is saying… (John 1:45-57; Mark 5:1-15; John 11:20-35)

11. Practice the golden rule – Matthew 7:12. What would you like your mate to do to you?…

12. Practice the principle laid down in Luke 6:35 .”Do good – do that which will help others; and lend expecting and hoping for nothing in return.”

One Comment

  1. Mark February 26, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    Those are good principles. I’d rephrase the first one slightly. Each person has to be willing to admit anything they are contributing to the problem. There are circumstances where the issue lies squarely on one person, and the other person coming up with some (false) explanation as to why they were culpable leads to falsehood in the relationship.

    Let’s say Fritz gives his wife $50, asking her to buy a pair of shoes for him. Instead she comes home with $50 worth of lottery tickets. If Fritz’s wife has never done this before, how is Fritz to blame? Because he gave his wife $50 in the first place? I don’t think so. But, if Fritz says “I think I need a new pair of shoes,” and gives his wife $50, she may or may not come home with shoes for Fritz. That’s a communication issue that Fritz is partly to blame for. That said, I think most of the issues couples will run into have blame on both sides.

    I think #4 should be #1. We struggle teaching this to ourselves and our kids. My wife didn’t “make me angry”. She did something and I got angry. They are, in a sense, two separate things. Sin on someone else’s part doesn’t justify sin on my part. My children’s sin doesn’t justify my yelling at them. I need to ask for their forgiveness.

    There is a flip-side to #4, too. We need to not own other peoples’ problems. If I give my child an allowance and she spends it on candy the first day, and doesn’t have money to buy lunch the rest of the week, that’s her problem, not mine. I may choose to let her face the consequences of her choice. If I “own” her problem and save the day, what she learns from me is not being responsible with her allowance, but that she can benefit from irresponsibility. Teaching the natural consequences of irresponsibility along with grace and forgiveness is tough, but no one said parenting is easy.

    In light of that, #12 can be legalistically applied. Do we go to the rich people in our congregations and charge them with not being charitable? Remember, Jesus also said, “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?” (Matt. 20:15) “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7). The fact that there are both rich and poor in congregations cannot be blamed simply on the uncharitable spirit of the rich.

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