Communication in relationships
So, I’ve talked about communication in relationships. Specifically, as a man I strive to lead any progressing relationship directly and assertively so a woman knows what she is getting into. If she knows what she is getting into then I can always draw the relationship back to the principles that I told her in the beginning.
Likewise, if she is not willing to follow or chooses down the road that she doesn’t like the terms she is free to leave, and I would encourage a mutual break up if that was the case. You don’t want to coerce someone to staying in a relationship against their will, unless they expressly opted into a covenant marriage.
This is why it is important to establish these principles before marriage, so as the law of reciprocity goes you can eliminate the women that you are not compatible with. In particular, you are specifically eliminating the women to whom YOUR leadership/headship is not compatible with. A woman that does not want to submit and respect your leadership may respect and submit to the leadership of another man. Hence, there is no hard feelings if a particular woman is not compatible with me. I don’t try to force things to make them work if they’re not working before marriage. After marriage would be a different story however.
I asked my girl to write some of the ways that I communicated with her up so I can give the background and analyze what exactly happened. It helps to have a woman’s perspective in understanding how your communication comes across.
Let’s get started.
Near the beginning of any relationship, I tend to set down ground rules. One of them is absolutely no lying. Even small lies will undermine the trust in relationships. Hence, if someone lies I cannot tell if they lied about just that one thing… The whole relationship could be built on lies. Hence, if you lie to me were done. Doesn’t matter if we’re perfect for each other. Doesn’t matter if we are engaged. Truth is more important than feelings.
When I first started dating DS, he told me to be honest with him no matter what. Trust is something that means a lot to him. Of course everyone would agree on that but I did not fully understand. I simply saw it to mean always tell the truth and don’t lie to your mate. Even though I consider myself an honest person, I only saw honesty as saying the truth when he asked me a question. That is a part of honesty but that is not an entirely complete view on what being honest is. Honesty has many parts and I must say that being in this relationship has helped me immensely with being fully honest and how to communication effectively while being in a relationship.
Even if you lay down ground rules in a relationship, it’s likely that your girl may not totally understand them until situations occur. Hence, ground rules are meant as boundaries to facilitate good relationship interaction and communication, but there will almost inevitably be misunderstandings. You must be willing to eventually correct these misunderstandings.
Setting the stage for good communication
The background of the next section comes off the heels of me saying that I would take a woman out on a date as that was the type of personality I liked. Somewhat of slip up from me being untactful, but also not a huge deal. Not unexpected a woman would get upset from that though.
I remember the first time I got upset with DS, I kept it to myself and didn’t let him know later that I was upset and to make it worse I told him via text. I didn’t think it was petty, I thought it was normal. I didn’t tell him when it happened because I didn’t know how to deal with it and I didn’t know what to say. When I did tell him though he was very patient with me and apologized, but he also informed to let him know ASAP when something like that happens again and to have conversations like that face to face.
For one I was extremely shocked by his response. He wasn’t angry, he didn’t try to put any blame on me and he admitted where he was wrong. On top of that, he made an effort to make things better for the future and made it clear what he wanted and expected for the future. How could I be mad at that? He was very polite, humble and simply asked for better communication in the future. That was the beginning of true communication in our relationship. I’m not going to say that after that conversation I was perfect at communicating because that it not the case. It took a lot of trust and vulnerability to open up to him because I rarely had to do something like that before. I have only been in one other relationship and it ended quickly because of lack of communication. I was young and too inexperienced to express myself that I ended up ending the relationship without closure.
One of the things that I mention before is to always thank someone for bringing something to your attention even if it is bad news or they are upset with you. This encourages open communication to the point where they aren’t afraid of bringing it up to you. In most cases, it’s normal to react to bad news, but even if it is bad news about you then you have to be willing to lay that aside in favor keeping the lines of communication safely open. If your woman is scared to bring things up to you for fear of you getting angry and lashing out at her, then she is more likely to keep things to herself and let things fester until they are huge problems. The trick with any relationship is to keep encouraging this communication in order to not allow small things to build up to big issues later.
Now, even if you admit your fault there are some things you need to stand up for. In this case, bringing up the issue to me by text is unacceptable. Given a relationship heads toward marriage if you can only communicate by text in marriage that’s not a good thing. You need to be able to apply conflict resolution face to facet.
This is one of the things that a man can help extensively. No woman is perfect straight out of the life box, so you need to learn to, encourage, and facilitate good communication as most women will be too inexperienced in these matters even if their parents were exception. Perhaps the one caveat being that they are a family counselor but sometimes they have trouble taking their own advice.
Being patient emphasizing good communication
Even though that situation was the start of our communication, many other situations popped up. Something would happen that DS did that made me upset, but I handled them all differently. One time I was upset but I thought my emotions and my acting distant would give him the biggest hint, but it didn’t. I ended up letting him know much sooner but still over text. He once again was patient and told me to tell him. He mentioned that if I couldn’t tell him things face to face and needed to resort to texting when I was upset we would have problems communicating as a couple. I knew it was petty of me to again text him when I was upset, especially after talking with him face to face, but I didn’t know how to handle it or what to say.
Sometimes things take multiple times to get the point across. As long as a woman is open to learning I will accept this. If it becomes a habit and there is no improvement then that may be a yellow flag that can turn into a red one. The boundaries here are to protect the relationship not hinder it. If someone cannot adhere to the boundaries after consistently addressing them in a assertive but patient and kind manner then they may not be a good marriage candidate.
Eliminating hinting, passive-aggressiveness, and Jesus
One thing I must say about being in a relationship is that men aren’t necessarily receptive to hints. Other times I was upset with something DS said, I would hint at him I was upset by being distant, short with responses and reply with my famous phrase, “really?” It made me more upset that he never got the hints and still acted normal. I thought he noticed but didn’t care, or didn’t notice and didn’t care even more!
One time we had a talk about how our communication has been going and I mentioned the whole spiel about my ways of communication with him when I was upset. He told me he sometimes knew when I was upset but never got my hints! I was so shocked at his response. Me being a female I understand hints all the time and he being male never gets them, that is frustrating for both of us, but I would assume for him more. Thought hinting has its pros, it gets in the way or really communicating and speaking your mind and how you really feel. I expected DS to get it every time I was upset and even if he did pick up on it I doubt he would even understand why I was upset.
Frankly, I know about men not getting hints even though I know a lot about female nature, but I didn’t actually discuss it with her early on in the relationship.
It is important to tell your woman or wives that giving hints is counterproductive. Since men aren’t versed in “woman speak” giving them hints is like giving an elementary school child a calculus problem in many cases. Hence, women often figure that men get these hints and develop their own covert contracts against men. This needs to be headed off at the pass.
Hint giving is a very passive aggressive behavior and needs to be eliminated. The one exception being flirting. It’s quite destructive because there are expectations formed on both sides. Men typically believe that nothing is wrong in the relationship when there may be something wrong, and women typically believe a man gets her hints and builds up resentment against him.
Jesus says: “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” If you’re hinting you’re not making the truth obviously known for someone to address it properly.
The nature of Trust
Thankfully I haven’t been upset with DS recently. Whatever issues I had, I let him know and I notice that I only have to tell him one time. — What I like, what I don’t like, what I cant stand, what makes me happy, etc. He is invested which is amazing. The things that bothered me before don’t bother me anymore simply because I told him and he cared enough to change it immediately. However I constantly pray about responding well whenever DS says or does something that upsets me. As patient and understanding he has been only encourages me to be the same and even better. I always want to address him with respect and love and make sure I can communicate as effectively as possible with him, but also others.
When it comes to trust, I know for a fact I wouldn’t be able to be open with DS if I didn’t trust him. Though I told him when we first met that I trusted him because he never did anything to break my trust, that wasn’t necessarily true. I trusted him with some things and not with others. When he told me to open up and be honest even if I feel it may hurt his feelings, I was hesitant. Usually when there is a disagreement or something wrong, I tend to keep things to myself because I dread confrontation. I am used to people always wanting to argue when I express myself, even if my tone is kind. The more I told him the more I trusted him and the better I knew we could communicate. He has been so sweet, caring and compassionate with me with all I have told him. He has never judged, criticized nor shamed me. He has never put me down in any way, and in fact he does the opposite. He lifts me up, lets me know I am not alone, gives scripture to help me and is gentle in the way he reacts. He really does know how and when to talk to me about certain things.
Good headship/leadership facilitates changes both within those following as well as itself. It should be able to morph depending on the needs and desires of those under it. Obviously, it still needs to be goal directed: Centered on Christ and aimed at increasing unity.
Trust is something that is built over time, and you shouldn’t expect full trust in the beginning. This is the journey that we walk with God, and this is the journey that we walk with other Christians and in all relationships.
The main thing to realize here is that neither of us are fully finished products. We all have room to grow, and we all need to understand that we are here on the same journey together. We need to understand and grow together and with God. This attitude colors the situations which may challenge a relationship which are any type of conflict. Conflict is an opportunity to learn and to grow together in a relationship, or it is an opportunity to push you further away. It is up to you what choice you make.
Even though things are great with DS and I now, it took a lot of refining on my part. I always prayed to God (and still do) about our relationship, how I should bring things up, what things I should bring up and what things to let pass (I don’t want to nag haha), and how I should express it. Its one thing saying exactly what is on your mind because it seems like the easiest way, but knowing what you want to say and having to find a way to word it because you care about presentation, reactions and showing honor and respect is something much harder but way more satisfying in my opinion. Prayer and DS being such a godly leader and example and my willingness, has made communicating and trust in our relationship way better. Our relationship is healthy and only getting better and I thank god for that.
As a man, my relationship with my woman is not solely a one way street. I am responsible for my relationship with God and with her, and she is responsible for her relationship with God and with me. This will be important when we look at the next section because things that should be brought to God need to be brought to God and things that should be brought to me should be brought to me.
This deals with personal issues and emotions. You may need to end up teaching a woman about this division of responsibility and roles between God and the husband. In my case, I was fortunate to find a woman that understood these somewhat prior to meeting me.
The difference between God’s role and your role in regard to her responsibilities
One thing that has really helped me in this relationship is always talking to God about issues I have. Whenever something would upset me, I would always take it to God. I would always tell him what my problem was, then I would ask him to help me with it. I would ask if it were something that I should bring up with DS or just let pass by. Some things I wanted to express with him but some things didn’t seem worthy enough to speak about. I would simply ask God and he would either give me peace about a situation simply because it was something I was dealing with and didn’t need to involve DS in.
DS just in some way would spark something that would make me upset or disappointed. That was not his fault though, it just showed me that there were things that I needed to work on personally that would eventually help me relationally. Though I have certain expectations from DS, and anyone I choose to be in a relationship with, they are not the same that I have with God.
Sometimes there are actual issues with your leadership; however, sometimes issues are something a woman has to work through herself between her and God. This is important to know and be able to distinguish between so you are not taking responsibility for something that is not yours to deal with. You can’t make her have a good relationship with God.
With DS the expectations I have of him are things he are very well capable of; make me a priority, make me feel loved, and treat me well. Pretty simple I’d say, and he excels in them. I do not however place the expectation on DS to constantly make me happy when it comes my life, help me fix my every problem, or comfort me in a way only God can.
DS is godly and amazing, and I love everything about him, but he is not God and he cannot fulfill my deepest desires the way God can and I will never put that pressure or role on him. If I did, I know I would always be disappointed or angry with him and so would he.
It’s not that DS will one day be able to satisfy those needs I rely on God for, but that he is not capable of it. No one is. Not my parents, siblings, pastors or friends. They give a great representation of God’s love, compassion, will, patience, understanding, wisdom, knowledge, and truth, but it all comes from a source. The source is what I go to.
I do however seek God through people at times for the sake of knowing that God speaks through anyone and anything, but I don’t let be the norm. If I am sad, confused, hurt, joyful, anxious, excited, I talk to God first. He deals with me, soothes, calms, and adds more joy (depending on the case). If I need direction I read the bible. If I still feel unsure I talk with people about it. I don’t want to be the kind of Christian who does everything they can think of to resolve a situation and realize I can talk to God, making him my last choice.
Thankfully for me, I never really told people about how I felt or expected people to make me feel better, but it has it downs. Since I never brought things up I never knew how to communicate them. As we all know talking to God is much easier to talk to than people because he already knows our thoughts and how we feel, so we know he can put the pieces together, but when it comes to people, they don’t know, so we have to be patient with them and ourselves.
This is the true heart of the issue. Women and wives should be taking many things to God in prayer and Scripture even before taking them to their husbands in many cases.
It’s easy to fall into the situation where your relationship becomes the idol. Hence, the expectations that are supposed to be placed in God alone are placed on your spouse to fulfill. They will never live up to those expectations, and both of you will end up unhappy and disappointed with each other.
This is one of the biggest insidious roots of dysfunction in Christian marriages. Sure, men can engage their wife emotionally, but if she is depending on her husband for all of her emotional engagement she is doing it wrong. She needs to seek God for the peace and joy that He gives. Her relationship with God is inversely proportional to her emotional burdening of her husband in marriage.
Some Scriptures that have helped her
(Psalm 5:1-3) “O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.”
(Psalm 13:5-6) “But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.”
(Psalm 19:7-8) “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.”
(Psalm 25:8-9) “The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way.”
(Psalm 27:8) “My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
(Philippians 4:19) “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Peter 5:7) “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
Some Scriptures that she added.
Let’s be real here. This was not easy. It required a lot of love, patience, and kindness on my part to not get angry even when I had perceived faults in the matter. However, communication must be fostered in a safe environment, and it must be done through the lens of Christ centered unity.
The better you get at it the easier it becomes to confront conflict situations as opportunities to love and grow in relationships rather than act angry and hurt and push people away. This is something that you can only facilitate. The other person MUST be also open to the same opportunity, although your ability to facilitate well may influence them to engage positively. At the end of the day, you both must choose to and engage such situations through your own free will.
It is also important to understand the roles and responsibilities of those in a relationship, and to understand the types of issues that you need to take before God first and foremost. A husband and wife are not emotionally reliant on each other. They should have their primary relationship needs met through the Father and Jesus, and it is only then that they can come together to be bigger than the sum of their parts.
If the other person in a relationship’s needs are draining then a relationship will eventually be dragged down into the dirt. Husbands and wives and men and women cannot fill holes that only Jesus can fill. These holes need to be filled correctly. Both of you need to keep putting God first in all things for the relationship to succeed and bear the most fruit.