Quality Marriage and Relationships
"The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."1
According to Morris Chalfant, "When polls are taken to discover what unhappily married men and women object to in each other, the 'silent husband' heads the wife's list, and the 'nagging wife' almost always heads the list of most husbands."
So, if my marriage and/or close relationships are less than desirable, what can I do about it? Lots actually.
First, quit the blame game. Remember, as long as we play the blame game we will b-lame.
Second, work on yourself and your own growth and maturity. The fact is that the only person we can ever change is our self, and as we change, those around us tend to change also—not always for the best, however, as some people don’t like it when we change.
Third, for men, three lessons: Learn to communicate, communicate, communicate. Your marriage and family depend on effective communications. And communication goes far beyond sharing your thoughts and saying what you think. It's learning to be honest with your feelings and not being afraid to say how you feel, whether it be happy, joyful, sad, afraid, hurt, angry or whatever. Admittedly, if you haven't learned to do this, it can be like learning a whole new language. I know—been there—done that! And when we do share, we need to remember to always “share the truth in love.”
Third, for women. Quit nagging. Let's face it, it doesn't work and unfortunately the less something works, all too often, the more we do it. As the saying goes, “if you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always got and you'll keep feeling as you always felt.”
Fourth, for both men and women a strong reminder to use "I" messages when you are sharing your feelings. Never say, "You made me feel such and such," because nobody can make us feel anything without our permission. But rather say, "I feel hurt, afraid (or whatever) and I need to talk to you about such-and-such."
Fifth, attend an effective communications class and read a good book together on this topic. An old book that I found very helpful is John Powell's, Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am. You may be able to buy a copy at your bookstore or on amazon.com. If not, borrow a copy from your library. Your librarian can also tell you about other good books on effective communications and interpersonal relationships.
Sixth, pray together—every day or night. It's still true that the family who prays together is more likely to stay together. But when you pray, learn to pray openly and honestly. God knows exactly how you feel anyhow so you may as well tell Him and then you are in a position to receive His help. Remember, "The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth." Praying empty words and meaningless clichés is like talking to the wind.
We stay close to God by being open and truthful with Him. We stay close to one another in exactly the same way.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You that You know all about me—my deepest joys, sorrows, hurts, fears, sins and failures—and love me still. Please help me to be real with myself, with You and with my partner, other loved ones, and my closest friends. Help me to be real and authentic so that my life will be a free channel for Your love to flow through to others. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. Psalm 145:18 (NIV).