I trust that you are learning much about yourselves, your spouse, and about the Lord during these unusual times.
These are times like no other.
Some of us are more isolated than we have ever been. Isolated from our church family, our jobs, our friends, and we’re sheltering in place with our husband or wife and children. Yet, we still feel isolated.
Gary Chapman in The Biblical Picture of Marriage, writes:
Thousands of couples have never experienced what God designed marriage to provide. They live isolated independent lives. Intimacy requires commitment. Commitment to talk, listen, and seek to understand. Together we plan and live our lives in fellowship with God. This is marriage at its best!Gary Chapman
We can choose to shake off that isolation within our marriages and within our families. We can make the commitment to talk honestly, to listen to each other as if we are studying each other. We can decide to strive to understand each other as we have never understood before – with our hearts.
United, husbands and wives can begin or deepen their fellowship with God and with each other.
This commitment is a choice. It’s your choice. It’s my choice. It’s a decision to listen with our hearts.
Our backgrounds are important in the way we communicate and the way we interpret each other’s communications.
By studying each other. By sharing life together. By becoming transparent with each other, we’ll be able to talk the same language most—of the time, but there can be unexpected mishaps.
Communication: it’s all about listening to each other … getting closer to each other … understanding each other … and drawing closer to God as a couple.
Communication involves the body, the mind, the heart, and the spirit.
Think about it … God thought it was so important, that He gave us the Bible. God thought it was so important that He gave us the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, leads us, convicts us, teaches us, comforts us, and more.
But we have a responsibility to choose to listen to understand. To listen with our hearts.
When I was in high school, I got home from school, and saw a stand of purple funeral flowers dominating our small living room. It wasn’t as pretty as the photo above.
“What’s this, Mama?”
“It’s from Daddy. It’s our anniversary. I think he got the occasion wrong.”
She could have interpreted the flowers as a message from Daddy about the quality of their marriage, but she decided that it was a mistake.
When Daddy came home, he saw the flowers, looked at Mama, and they both burst out laughing.
Each anniversary after that, he gave her jewelry or a significant gift PLUS a plastic or silk purple flower. She kept each one of those flowers.
After Daddy died, my brother continued to give her a purple flower on their anniversary. He would put it at her door, ring the doorbell and run fast to his car and drive away. She was thrilled.
What could have been a catastrophe became an annual memorial to their love.
Mama chose to listen with her heart, and she chose to love Daddy’s gift of funeral flowers.
Bottom line. It’s all our decision—how do we wish to look at events? Do we want to look at them positively?
Maybe turn them into opportunities to play or cherish a moment that could have been a disaster?
Do we listen with our hearts to the intent of the moment?
We can turn those moments into funny moments or cherished moments. Or we can be disappointed, upset, and feel bad – ignoring the intent.
“Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise,
And apply your heart to my knowledge;” Proverbs 22:17
Listening and applying understanding to our hearts takes effort. First, it requires us to stop judgment before it begins. It asks, what was my spouse’s intention? Did he mean to make me feel good? Probably.
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;” James 1:19
“Hear” means to seek to understand, to consider the meaning.
Notice, that we’re to be quick to hear or strive to understand the meaning of a comment or a moment, and what? SLOW to speak or respond.
I like to tell people that when we have an experience that is not positive, we have a choice. I try to practice this:
- Take a deep breath
- Lower my shoulders
- Exhale as I consider how the moment, the comment could be interpreted as positive.
Daddy spent a lot of money that he probably didn’t have on those flowers. He wanted to celebrate their anniversary in a big way. He meant it positively. Mama chose to take those funeral flowers as a gesture of his love.
Mama was slow to speak – mainly because Daddy was at work – but still, she had time to think about their love and to guide her heart in the way that he meant the flowers to be received.
“Hear, my son, and be wise;
And guide your heart in the way.” Proverbs 23:19
Guiding our hearts in the way of Jesus. Jesus gave us the ultimate example on the cross, didn’t He? He prayed:
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34a
He understood. He chose. He forgave.
So how do we listen with our hearts in our marriages today with this new normal of uncertainty and change?
Keith, my husband, is working at home. He has online meetings throughout the day and is on email and the phone continuously. It’s a bit more intense than at the office.
I have also transitioned some Bible studies to online studies.
We’ve both had to learn technology that we previously did not know. We’re both being stretched. Here are few things we are practicing.
- Walking together more, with masks on.
- We laugh more. Windblown, shaggy hair now prompts laughter. We’re both looking forward to when we can get our hair cut again.
- Bringing each other tea while the other is in an online meeting.
- Touching each other when we get close.
Listening or hearing with our hearts – I’m sure it is your desire. It takes help sometimes, doesn’t it? The Holy Spirit is standing at the ready for you, and just as Jesus urges us in Mark 4:23, we urge you:
“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Father, You have given us ears to hear and hearts to understand our spouses’ heart communication. Help us to be swift to listen with our hearts and respond in loving ways to our spouses. Show us ways to deepen that understanding in order to bless the other and to know our spouses from our hearts. Thank you for the gift of marriage. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
How do you listen to your spouse?
Please share in the comments section below.