Day #9 of this series, Marriage Ministry, who needs it?
When Janet and I started dating it didn’t take long before we were feeling deeply in love. We both believed we had finally found that special person we could spend the rest of our lives with.
After eighteen months of dating, we were married and the roller coaster ride took off. We soon fell into destructive patterns where we thought everything was great at times and then other times we were separating and seriously flirting with divorce.
To look at all of the bad things that happened in our marriage it was easy for people to think that we were just not meant to be together. Or that we obviously didn’t really love each other.
But that was not the case. We did love each other and we continued to have great affection for each other even through our most difficult times. So you might ask, what was the problem then? If two people love each other, how can they reach such critical breaking points in their relationship?
The answer is simple. Love is not enough, at least not the emotional definition of love. No it takes more than good feelings to make a relationship work. With all of the complications that go into a marriage, a couple better develop some good relationship skills to go along with the love they feel.
Here is a overview of some relationship skills that can be learned and should be developed. This will be a brief look and we strongly recommend that you read some other post here on this site and with other marriage bloggers.
Also there is an endless amount of books, classes and conferences that are designed to give you in depth information. So make no mistake, the development of these skills will take work and they will require your commitment to the work.
What are the skills?
1) Communication: We hear it all the time. Couples know they need it but they don’t always understand it. Some people define communication as the exchange of information. And that is true, on an entry level where there is not much risk of vulnerability involved. But real in depth communication take place when you exchange hearts and not just words. And for that you have to develop at least these four things.
- Speaking: You must know when to speak and when not to speak. You must develop your understanding of what are the proper words to speak and what are the wrong words to speak.
- Listening: Communication also requires knowing how to listen. And sometimes how to listen without speaking, at least not until it’s the right time.
- Actions: This is one of the most overlooked forms of communication in a relationship. But it’s the old cliche, “actions speak louder than words.” Actions are important while you are talking. Actions are important when following through with what you talked about. And actions are so very important when words cannot convey what each other is feeling.
- Safety: The real key to communicating on a vulnerable level is how safe you feel. You will only open your heart and reveal your deepest thoughts and feelings if you feel it is safe to do so and you believe what you share will not be used against you. For a great book on understanding how we each need our own way of feeling safe to talk, check out “Love Talk,” by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott. I will show the link below under differences.
2) Love languages: Actually this is a type of communication. Earlier I spoke about Janet and I and I said, “love is not enough, at least not the emotional definition of love.” When we talk about love language we are talking about love in the form of a verb, your actions, and not your feelings.
This love language has to do with how we all communicate love in our own distinct way. When you learn about love languages the idea is to learn how you speak love and how your spouse speaks love and both of you become bilingual in each other’s love language.
Often in our class and in other places you will hear about, “The five Love Languages,” by Gary Chapman. We will not go into detail at this time, but here is the list from the book. Keep in mind, each one of us communicate love in one or more of these ways.
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Physical touch
- Acts of service
3) Our differences: Understanding our differences will go a long way in knowing how to relate and get along with each other. In the same way we are different physically as men and women, we are also different in the way we process our thoughts and emotions. We are different in the way we focus our attention and we are different because we come from different backgrounds and experiences. And as I previously mentioned with communication, we are also different in how we communicate. So again, the more you understand, the better you can relate.
Some books that are often used to teach on these differences are;
- “His Needs, Her Needs,” by Willard F. Harley Jr.
- “Love and Respect,” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
- “Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti,” by Bill and Pam Farrel
- “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,” by John Gray
- “Personality Plus,” by Florence Littauer
- “The five Love Languages,” by Gary Chapman
- “Love Talk,” by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott
4) Fighting fair: There are many skills you can learn to handle conflict in a healthy way. And most importantly how to quit handling it in the wrong way. I mentioned this in the post, “Two Wrong Ways to Handle Conflict.”
5) Steps to intimacy: Some of the most important skills we need is how to grow closer in oneness.
6) Spiritual journey: An important step in building a great marriage is knowing how to grow together as you pursue your relationship with God together
Some other posts on important skills for building a great marriage.
We will go into more detail on these skills and much more on future post.
Thanks for reading and please feel free to post your comments. We would love to hear from you.