Imago Dei Portland Church
My daughter has on occasion said of my wife and me, “It amazes me you two ever dated, let alone got married.”
Having lived in the house with us for over twenty years has given her unique a perspective and insight into our marriage.
What she’s often referring to is not endless arguing or fighting, nor is it a difference in faith or fundamental values. She and I are amazingly similar, and border on mirror images in areas of faith in Christ and core values; there’s no one I agree with more than my wife, Lisbeth, on the things that matter.
What our daughter is referring to is primarily how my wife and I communicate. Often a key theme in marriage sitcoms like Everybody Loves Raymond or even the old, I Love Lucy show was miscommunication. One of the reasons these shows are so funny is there’s a strong thread of truth in the writing and we’re in a sense laughing at ourselves and our spouses.
Communication issues like ours are common enough that it can be the basis of a comedy. Of course, miscommunication in a real-life marriage is often anything but funny and more often is a major source of frustration.
Once I realized that Lisbeth was never going to communicate like me, I got down to the task of figuring out how to be a better communicator to the most important person in my life.
It started with working on being a better listener.
I needed to listen without commenting or trying to problem solve. This is no small task since I’d like to believe I have valuable comments she needs to hear. After all, I’m an engineer who does solve problems for a living. I don’t know what your relationship looks like, but typically my wife has a few more things to talk about than I do. So, I need to be a patient listener too. She has important things to tell me, so why would I stop her?
I also came to terms that I couldn’t watch sports and really listen to her. That flat-out doesn’t work. I can’t communicate with her like I’d talk to a guy. The pause button on the remote for the DVR is perfect in these situations; I can easily put the game on hold, not my wife.
She and I have different communication needs. I know that sounds like common sense, however, putting it into practice has been harder than I often think it should be.
There’s probably no one who has helped me more on this subject than Emerson Eggerichs and his Love and Respect ministry.
Lisbeth and I went to a Love and Respect conference here in Portland some years back and we came away with incredible insight in how best to communicate with each other. If you can’t get to a conference pick up Emerson’s book titled Love and Respect (also available at the Imago bookstore on Sunday mornings) and read it with your spouse.
Imago Dei also regularly has Love and Respect small groups where you can pick up the essential communication skills you and your spouse need.
As Emerson says about the way men and women communicate, “It’s not wrong, it’s just different.”
For you guys that are reading this, please be the one who initiates this. Your marriage will be better for it.