The secret of good communication in marriage lies in two people applying the principle embodied in this verse:
And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.
Here is a workable formula. And amazingly, it is easier to carry out than to try to figure out the other person and treat him accordingly.
Scott and Ann found this out. Like practically everyone, each longed to be appreciated and have their viewpoint respected. They discovered that the rule Jesus gave is just as effective today as when He spoke it.
Scott sought counsel because he was puzzled over his unhappy marriage. He and Ann, his wife, never exchanged harsh words. He kept his complaints against her to himself. He had looked at her personality and her idiosyncrasies from all angles and tried to do what would bring a balance between them. They never argued. But with all their efforts at adjustment, there was little happiness. Their approach did not work because they simply could not figure each other out. Adjustments based on this faulty approach were bound to fail. To do unto others as you would have them do to you is the opposite of trying to figure each other out.
What is it that you would like others to do unto you?
• adjust to your likes and dislikes
• express appreciation for favors done
• praise you for your achievements
• forgive you for your failures
• pay attention when you talk
• not hold you accountable for your behavior
• let you set your own rules
• provide money to spend as you wish
• tell you the truth
• maintain a neat house
Such a list requires some serious self-examination. Perhaps you should eliminate some of them or add some others. As you put your desires into practice, you will discover some of them are not really in your best interest. Your list will keep changing.
When you have completed your list, then do just that toward others. When Scott and Ann proceeded on the basis of doing to the other what each wanted done to themselves, their frustrations disappeared and they found a happy life together. Try it.
Such an attitude puts a high premium on communication in marriage. The term is used in preference to “talking,” for people can do much talking and still live in a state of almost complete mental isolation. Communication means to overcome the desire to conceal feelings and thoughts and rise to the level of talking about money, fears, wishes, motivations, sexual feelings and responses, mistakes made, resentments, and misunderstandings with the intent to resolve them.
In writing to the Corinthians, Paul says,
For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.
2 Corinthians 1:12
Husband and wife ought to approach each other in like manner–out of a good conscience, in simplicity and godly sincerity, by the grace of God. This is the attitude that paves the way for letting your partner know what is really on your heart.
Again, Paul says:
Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.
Unity is based on the testimony of our conscience (2 Cor. 1:12), on being thoroughly and completely truthful with one another.
Note Ephesians 4:1-16. Here Paul speaks of the benefit given to us in order that we may become perfect in our relationships one to another.
…but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ
Speaking the truth is not enough. It must be done in love, not with a vindictive spirit. Note that this verse does not address timing. Should you do it today, tomorrow, or next week?
Jesus once said to His disciples,
I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
He did not conceal the fact that He had more to say. But He chose not to say it then. Perhaps they were tired. They may have been discussing something else and it was not the time to bring up a new subject. Perhaps they were not in a receptive mood.
The golden rule makes Ephesians 5:28-29 come alive.
So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.
There is no second guessing needed here. Such honesty involves your behavior in God’s presence. Your wife is the one who receives the benefit. But, if both are to receive these wonderful benefits of good communication in marriage, each must look out for the interest of the other.
*Adapted from the book, “Marriage God’s Way” by Brandt and Skinner