Talking About Talking
Scripture: Genesis 2:18–25; Ephesians 4:32
In marriage there are at least two ways we feel alone. The first is being emotionally disconnected (i.e., you feel more like roommates than husband and wife). The second is struggling on your own with sin, shame, fear, or anxiety.
Either we can include our spouse in our struggles by sharing how we are feeling alone, or we can resist sharing about our struggles because:
a) we haven’t come to the point yet of admitting that we need help, or
b) we’re afraid of the devastation our honesty is going to bring.
So, what do we do?
Our fallen nature would have us hide, isolate ourselves, and continue indulging in our sin because deep down we believe we can change our behavior or find a way through the struggle on our own and in a way that softens the blow.
But the worst thing we can do as Christians who are married is to ignore our struggles and bury ourselves in screens, in careers, in parenthood, or in other ways. We may not necessarily be experiencing isolation in those areas, but if we run to them when we feel vulnerable, then they are at the very least signposts along the path toward isolation.
One of the ways the two of us try to be transparent in our marriage is to give each other a heads-up when we would like to set aside time to talk about something. For us, that is code for, “I need to talk openly and honestly about a few things that I have been struggling with, and I need you to prepare your heart and not react emotionally.” This kind of planning helps us express our emotions without letting them dictate the conversation. It also helps us prepare to “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Having honest conversations about things we are struggling with in marriage tends to put couples on the defensive. It doesn’t have to. Talk about what you need to talk about so that each of you has time to prepare your heart. This goes a long way in diffusing your otherwise typical emotional reactions.
What is one hard thing you and your spouse need to talk about? What step could you take to set up that conversation ahead of time?