Welcome 2018! This is my first time writing as a wife and golly, these last few months been an amazing adventure!
As the clock turned to 12:01am on 01/01/18, I found myself mesmerized by the New Year fireworks over Sydney Harbour contemplating what this year would usher up. A sense of freshness over revised goals, achievements, travel, work, family or even the small wins in the everyday!
Over the last 2 months, I have learnt more about myself than I have in the past 28 years of my life here on earth! And yes - that is a big call! Marriage is the most beautiful relationship that God ordained, but gosh it can bring out the best and worst in oneself!
Through marriage, I am learning to be more loving, patient, selfless - and I don’t think any of that is going to stop any time soon. However, writing this piece 2 months in, I feel as though I am no expert in the field so I thought I would reference others than have gone before on the foundations and one aspect that I have learnt can make the biggest difference in life (not just in marriage); communication.
A psychology study was completed which found that 60-90% of communication is non-verbal. Yes, that’s right - communication which comes from body language, eye contact, facial expressions and tone rather than the words we chose to use. Looking through the Bible, we are taught on numerous occasions about communication.
In Psalm 19 verses 1 - 4 (NIV) it says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.”
In Proverbs 18 verse 21 (NIV) it says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Then in James 3 verses 2 - 6 (NIV) it says “We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”
I don’t think it's a coincidence that the Bible takes the time to talk about a topic so many times unless it was vital to our daily lives. From the way we talk to our neighbours, colleagues at work, family, friends to the way we speak to our spouses we are each given the moment to provide life or wreck havoc.
Some areas in which I am personally learning daily can be categorised in the following and I know my 2018 will be dependent on how well I walk these out and I’d like to share these with you
Get to know your spouse
Too often we make assumptions on what someone says, how they say it, what they mean or even what they didn’t say! Seeing the best in others takes time and effort, and sometimes it is purely a choice rather than a feeling.
In 1 Peter 3 verse 7 it says, “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
It goes on further to talk about the way Husbands ought to be considerate here as well. Great advice for one newlywed learning the art of compromise and letting go of learnt stubborn behaviour!
Honour and accept differences
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus! Now, that statement is obviously figuratively but there is a lot of truth in it. There are gender differences but this was intended from the beginning. In Genesis 1 verse 27 (NIV) it says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
So why is it, we are surprised when something comes up and we notice each person in a marriage responds differently? Often men communicate for purpose; to achieve or accomplish something however when women communicate, it could be for various reasons - expression, feeling heard, being accepted or maybe it is for a task (Note: slight generalisation here, not always the case but one aspect how gender can factor into communication)
Mutual honour enhances communication and it goes back to the words vowed at the alter on the wedding day to honour one another (even when we may not feel like it in our natural beings). Each person is unique, with our own strengths, weaknesses, positive and negative attributes but any relationship requires the complementary of both to grow and move forward.
Listen & Speak with edifying words
As per above, words hold great power. Once released there is no undo button, they are now free to land how they will. Before we respond, we ought to listen.
I know, I for one have a lot to learn in this area. Active listening takes work, time, effort and patience. All of which in a busy life, we can overlook when our own agenda is on the table.
In James 1 verse 19 (NIV) it says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”.
Listening to what is being said, what is not being said and what the Holy Spirit says to us in our marriages takes practice. It is not learnt overnight but through years of patience. In Ephesians 4 verses 29 (NIV) it says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
In response, to what we hear - we must then decide (active verb and choice) to speak with something that is fruitful, life-bearing and helpful. I for one, know that I have had many moments of saying what I first think of rather than what needs to be processed, articulated and logically reasoned.
Having said all of the above, I believe that life is a learning lesson. We are each given 168 hours a week to use however we wish, to manage our time, add margin and ask God for help daily to walk out what we know in our hearts.
He is the greatest communicator and we weren’t meant to do this journey alone.
I pray over marriages in 2018, for anyone reading this, to be filled with loving communication that builds and strengthens.
Note: References to aspects of “4. Foundation Four: Communication In Marriage” by Bible.org have been made, to add further clarity of communication strategies by someone further along the marriage journey.
Meenal Sim (nee Chandra) is a Sydney based newlywed writer who is a forever learner.
Meenal Sim previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/meenal-chandra.html
Meenal Chandra is a Sydney based writer who believes we are all in need of grit; whatever your age.
Meenal Chandra previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/meenal-chandra.html
Refer to “Why Millennials struggle for success” - Angela Duckworth. May 3, 2016 for quotes above.
Refer to “Grit: the power of passion and perseverance - Ted Talk” - Angela Duckworth. Published May 9, 2013.