Hey Hon, We Need to Talk
Whenever I (Bob) heard that statement my mind usually went to a war-time footing, “Incoming, Incoming,” and I would sprint to the nearest closet. Well, not quite like that but you get the idea. With many spouses, especially the hubbies, we absorb that question as if there is something wrong. That may not always be true.
But in any marriage tough topics do come up that need to be discussed. That is a given. When it does a spouse needs to be able to say, “Hey hon, we need to talk!”
Ignoring or running from those tough marriage topics is self-defeating as it causes a chasm to grow wider between the couple. To keep that from happening you need to come together and have a talk session. To help you with that we want to give you some guidelines to put into action.
Guidelines For Talk Session
A. Make An Agreement
The agreement is: A problem for one is a problem for both! Since the two have become one, if one thinks there is a problem then there is a problem. We know some of you are thinking, " But what if I truly think the issue brought up is not a problem?" The spouse possibly thinking there isn’t one needs to humble themselves before the Lord and their spouse and not let pride or ego rule on the throne of their heart. Thoughtful words could be, “Honey you believe that’s a problem. Well, I love you and if you think there’s a problem then, yes, there is a problem that affects us both so let’s talk and allow God to work through us to solve it.” Something on that order. Let Philippians 2:3 be your guide - "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." (A marital paraphrase could be "but in humility consider your spouse better than yourself.") Keep in mind the agreement needs to be made ahead of this, so when you face a difficulty you can go right into the discussion based on your agreement.
B. Focus On The Problem
Focus on the problem as a separate entity, meaning, the two of you against the problem, not against each other. Your foundation is to be the solid relationship you have in Christ and with each other. You are talking to your best friend - your TeamMate - not an adversary. Once the two of us made that agreement it changed the way we dealt with our tough talk sessions, though there are times we still have to remind ourselves by saying the agreement out loud. (-:
C. Hang in there.
The problem may not be solved in round one of a discussion, but if each knows the other wants this to be resolved in the most honorable way possible, that gives encouragement to the spouse who initiated the discussion.
D. Build Trust
A spouse will trust the other in a “tough” conversation if they know the other is consistently loving them and has a history of wanting to co-solve problems. If one spouse “has” to win each time regardless of the truth then, yes, there could be a major problem in their marriage communication. And if this continues then the next step would be professional counseling.
E. Watch What You Say
Criticism, nagging and complaining turn off the ears of the listener. The reason is it feels like an attack and when one is attacked they go on the defense. Then the couples usually are off and running in attack modes on each other instead of focusing on the problem.
But if you approach the subject by first letting your spouse know what they have done right then you can tell them what you think needs to be changed, and how, and explain how it not being changed affects you. If you follow the example of Ephesians 4:29 your conversation has a greater chance of being successful.
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Again, a marital paraphrase could include. "for building your spouse up according to his/her needs.")