“As apples of gold in silver carvings is a word spoken at the right time for it.”
1. How has good communication helped marriages?
A BROTHER in Canada said, “I would rather spend time with my wife than with anyone else.” This brother added that being with his wife makes the happy moments in life happier and the difficult moments easier to endure. A husband in Australia wrote, “In our 11 years together, not one day has passed when I have not spoken with my wife.” He said that good communication has helped them to trust each other completely and to have a strong marriage. A sister in Costa Rica wrote that good communication has helped her and her husband to have a happy marriage. She said, “It has drawn us closer to Jehovah, protected us from temptations, united us as a couple, and made our love grow.”
2. Why can it be hard for couples to communicate well?
2 Is there good communication in your marriage? Of course, there will be communication problems sometimes. You are both imperfect, and you have different personalities. (Romans 3:23) You may come from different cultures or you may not have been raised in the same way. So you may have different ways of communicating. For these reasons, marriage researchers John M. Gottman and Nan Silver wrote that couples must be willing to work very hard if they want to communicate well and make their marriage last.
3. What has helped couples to keep their marriage strong?
3 A strong marriage takes hard work, but it will make a husband and a wife very happy. (Ecclesiastes 9:9) Think of the loving marriage of Isaac and Rebekah. (Genesis 24:67) The Bible shows that they kept their love for each other strong even after they had been married for a long time. Many couples today have also been able to keep their marriage strong. What has helped them? They have learned to talk about their thoughts and feelings in an honest but kind way. They show the qualities of insight, love, respect, and humility. We will now see how these qualities can help a couple to communicate well.
4, 5. How can insight help a married couple to understand each other? Give examples.
4 Proverbs 16:20 says: “He that is showing insight in a matter will find good.” God’s Word gives us the insight and wisdom we need to have a happy marriage. (Read Proverbs 24:3.) For example, Genesis 2:18 tells us that God made the woman as a complement to the man. This means that a man and a woman are different from each other so that they can complete each other. That is why women communicate in a different way than men. Most women like to talk about their feelings, people, and relationships. Loving and honest communication helps women feel loved. Many men, though, may not like to talk about their feelings but may prefer to talk about activities, problems, and solutions. Men also like to feel respected.
A couple who show insight try to understand each other’s thoughts and feelings
5 A sister in Britain said, “My husband wants to solve problems quickly rather than hear me out.” She explained that this can be frustrating because all she really wants is for him to listen to her and try to understand her feelings. A husband wrote, “When my wife and I were first married, my tendency was to find a quick solution to whatever problem she had.” But he soon learned that all she really wanted was for him to listen to her. (Proverbs 18:13; James 1:19) A husband who shows insight knows his wife’s feelings and treats her in a way that will make her feel loved. He makes it clear to her that her thoughts and feelings are important to him. (1 Peter 3:7) Also, a wife who shows insight tries to understand the way her husband thinks. When both husband and wife do what God expects of them, they can have a happy marriage and can work together to make wise decisions.
6, 7. (a) How can Ecclesiastes 3:7 help a couple show insight? (b) How can a wife show insight when she talks to her husband? What effort should a husband make?
6 A couple should also know that there is “a time to keep quiet and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7) A sister who has been married for ten years wrote that she has learned when to talk to her husband about certain things. If he is overwhelmed with work or other responsibilities, she waits for a better time to talk to him. As a result, their communication is much better. When a wife speaks in a kind way and “at the right time,” her husband will likely be happy to listen to her.
7 A Christian husband not only listens to what his wife says but also makes an effort to tell his wife about his own feelings. An elder who has been married for 27 years said: “I have to work at telling my wife what is deep in my heart.” A brother who has been married for 24 years said that he usually does not like to talk about problems. He feels that if he does not talk about them, they will go away. But he added: “I have come to realize that it is not a sign of weakness to show my feelings. When I struggle to express myself, I pray for the right words to say and the right way to say them. Then I take a deep breath and start talking.” It is important for a couple to choose the right time to talk, perhaps when they are alone discussing the daily text or reading the Bible together.
8. What can help couples to have the desire to improve their communication?
8 It can be hard for a couple to change the way they communicate. Both husband and wife need to pray for God’s spirit and have a strong desire to improve their communication. They will have that desire if they love Jehovah, want to please him, and view their marriage as something sacred. A sister who has been married for 26 years wrote: “My husband and I take Jehovah’s view of marriage seriously, so we do not even consider separation. This makes us work harder to resolve problems by discussing them together.” A couple who are loyal to God in this way will make him happy and have his blessing.
MAKE YOUR LOVE GROW
9, 10. What can a couple do to make their love grow?
9 Love is the most important quality in a marriage. The Bible says that love is “a perfect bond of union.” (Colossians 3:14) True love grows as time passes and as a husband and a wife go through good times and bad times together. They become even closer friends and enjoy being together. They make their marriage stronger, not by doing a few great things for each other, as we see in movies or on television, but by doing many small things for each other. These things could be a hug, a kind comment, a thoughtful act, a warm smile, or a sincere “how was your day?” These little things can make a big difference in a marriage. One couple who have been happily married for 19 years say that they phone or text each other during the day “just to see how things are going.”
Work hard to speak respectfully to each other
10 When a husband and a wife love each other, they try to keep learning about each other. (Philippians 2:4) The more they learn, the stronger their love grows, even though they both have weaknesses. A happy marriage becomes stronger with time. So if you are married, ask yourself: ‘How well do I know my husband or wife? Do I understand his or her feelings and thoughts on matters? Do I often think about the qualities that first attracted me to my husband or wife?’
HAVE RESPECT FOR EACH OTHER
11. Why is respect so important in a marriage? Give a Bible example.
11 Even the happiest marriages are not perfect marriages. A couple may sometimes disagree. Abraham and Sarah did not always agree with each other. (Genesis 21:9-11) But this did not make their marriage weak. Why not? They treated each other with respect. For example, Abraham said “please” to Sarah. (Genesis 12:11, 13) And Sarah obeyed Abraham and thought of him as her “lord.” (Genesis 18:12) In contrast, a couple who speak harshly to each other show that they do not respect each other. (Proverbs 12:18) And if there is no respect, their marriage is in danger.
12. When a couple first get married, why should they work especially hard to speak respectfully to each other?
12 When a couple first get married, they should work especially hard to speak kindly and respectfully to each other. This will make it much easier for them to communicate honestly. One husband explained that during the first years of their marriage, he and his wife did not understand each other’s feelings, habits, and needs. This was sometimes frustrating for them. But they were able to have a good relationship by being reasonable and having a good sense of humor. He says that it was also important to show humility, to have patience, and to trust in Jehovah. This is good advice for all of us!
SHOW TRUE HUMILITY
13. Why is humility so important for a happy marriage?
13 A couple can communicate in a kind and peaceful way only if they are both “humble in mind.” (1 Peter 3:8) One brother who has been married for 11 years said that humility helps a couple solve problems because it moves them to say “I’m sorry.” An elder who has been happily married for 20 years said, “Sometimes the words ‘I’m sorry’ are more important than ‘I love you.’” He explained how prayer helps him and his wife to show humility. He said, “When my wife and I approach Jehovah together, we are reminded of our imperfection and God’s undeserved kindness.” This helps them to have the right view of themselves and of the problem.
14. What can pride do to a marriage?
14 Pride, on the contrary, makes it very hard for a husband and a wife to communicate and solve problems. A proud person does not have the desire or the courage to say, “I’m sorry, please forgive me.” He makes excuses for what he did, or he blames the other person instead of admitting his mistake. When a proud person is offended, he does not try to make peace. He speaks harshly or refuses to talk at all. (Ecclesiastes 7:9) Yes, pride can destroy a marriage. It is good to remember that “God opposes the haughty ones, but he gives undeserved kindness to the humble ones.”
15. How can Ephesians 4:26, 27 help a couple solve problems between them?
15 When husband and wife disagree, they should work to solve the problem quickly instead of being proud. Paul told Christians: “Let the sun not set with you in a provoked state, neither allow place for the Devil.” (Ephesians 4:26, 27) What may happen when a couple do not follow this advice from God’s Word? One sister explained: “The result has been some of the worst nights’ sleep I’ve ever had!” It is much better to try to solve the problem immediately and in a peaceful way. Of course, a husband and a wife may need to give each other some time to calm down before speaking about a matter. They should also pray to Jehovah to help them to be humble. This will help each of them, not to think only of his or her own feelings, but to focus on solving the problem.
Try to solve problems quickly and in a peaceful way
16. How can humility help a couple to value each other’s good qualities and abilities?
16 Humility can help a couple to value each other’s good qualities and abilities. For example, a wife may have a special ability that she uses to benefit the family. A humble husband would not feel that he has to be better than his wife at everything but would encourage her to continue using her ability. By doing so, he shows that he loves and values her. (Proverbs 31:10, 28; Ephesians 5:28, 29) Also, a humble wife would not brag about herself or make fun of her husband for not having the same ability. Because the two of them are “one flesh,” showing pride in these ways hurts both of them.
17. What can help marriages to be happy and to honor God?
17 You certainly want to have a marriage like that of Abraham and Sarah or Isaac and Rebekah. You want your marriage to be happy, to be lasting, and to honor Jehovah. So view marriage the same way God does. Look for insight in his Word. Value each other’s good qualities so that your love for each other will grow. (Song of Solomon 8:6) Work hard to show humility. Treat each other with respect. If you do these things, your marriage will bring joy both to you and to your heavenly Father. (Proverbs 27:11) One brother who has been married for 27 years said: “I cannot imagine life without my wife. Our marriage continues to grow stronger every day. This is because of our love for Jehovah and our regular communication with each other.” Your marriage can be just as strong as theirs is!