Let me tell you a very short story about my favorite nail salon. I love my nail salon and I love the sweet ladies who seem so happy to see me when I come in. They all hug my neck and ask me questions that, quite honestly, I have a difficult time understanding.
These are beautiful Vietnamese ladies……and I come from the East side of Tennessee. Because of our “accent-clash” I am not sure if anybody knows what the other is trying to communicate!
I am able to muddle through the conversation but most of the time our conversation is very surface and shallow. Due to nothing more than a lack of ability to effectively communicate, it is not long before the nail techs begin to speak in their own native language to each other.
I must be honest and say that I breathe a sigh of relief when this happens. Not because I don’t want to communicate with them. I love them. But because it is so difficult to carry on a conversation without feeling mis-understood.
However, with this experience, it makes me wonder how cool it would be to be bi-lingual. Maybe not “Vietnamese bi-lingual”, but bi-lingual with one of my most important relationships. It’s the guy I came into covenant with in marriage. No doubt, even though we are both from America, sometimes in our relationship we need to be able to interpret what it is the other is saying. Can you relate?
It is hard to overestimate the value of communication; especially in marriages.
Mark and I promised to hang out with each other twenty-seven years ago till “death do us part”. That is over 9,855 days. And if we hang out on average about 8 hours a day, in a 24 hour day, that’s approximately just over 78,840 hours that we have the opportunity to communicate. That’s a lot of time. But it’s also a lot of opportunity for mis-communication. So discovering our individual love languages, our natural quirks, and our iniquities (which means our natural “bent” towards sin) it has given us lots of room to grow. The art of communication for us was like discovering gold.
Some days it seems impossible to find but when we decided not to give up on each other and our marriage, it became a great reward.
In the heat of our martial issues serval years ago, so often, I just wanted Mark to hear me. It seemed for several years, he was in the room but emotionally was not. Not knowing the depths of our issues, I began to pick at the “fruit” on our marriage tree.
But please know, the fruit does not give life to the marriage tree. It is the roots that give life to the marriage tree.
The first bit of advice that helped heal us was getting into counseling. Even if you go by-yourself, which I did. With betrayal of any kind, an outside party is able to look at the circumstance and help navigate a path to healing. I had to swallow a lot of pride and I had Mark promise he would not to tell anyone. I did not want anyone to know that I felt like I was cracking under the pressure of our crumbling marriage. It was by far the hardest thing and the best thing I did for myself and our marriage. Through counseling, we were provided tools to help us communicate. Without these very valuable communication tools, my un-resolved anger and resentment would still look like depression and anxiety, which actually drew me to counseling. However, with great progress and God’s grace, it was not long before Mark joined me in the counseling chair.
The second greatest advice was provided one day by our counselor.
“Take away the PUSH, Gwen”. I am sure my response was like yours, “WHAT”? What does that mean? I am so glad I asked that day. And if you are reading on, maybe you are asking too. What does “take away the PUSH” mean?
Our natural tendencies, when someone is “pushing”against us, is to PUSH right back. I desired a certain response from my spouse, and my “pushing” made him only naturally want to push back.
“But if I don’t tell him, how will he know that this behavior is not acceptable?”, I asked. I am confident now that our Counselor knew she was only scratching the surface with me but she had to start somewhere.
Usually the behavior we are able to see is typically not what lies underneath the surface. My greatest concern was that if I stopped telling or “pushing” Mark what I felt was wrong in our marriage, how in the world would this behavior ever stop?
Two questions I had to wrestle with at this point.
- Did I trust our counselor enough to follow her recommendation and
- Did I trust God enough with our marriage.
Our counselor gave me one last opportunity to communicate what I felt was wrong in our marriage and then from there, I had to stop talking about this and give it over to God. Crazy, I know, but I did it.
I had to remove myself from the God-seat. I had to turn over the injustice and the pain of betrayal and trust our marriage with the only one who could heal it,The Holy Spirit.
It’s hard to believe that sometimes, the most effective act of communication is saying nothing at all. 1 Peter talks about how wives can win her husband over without a word but by their behavior.
I had to let God begin communicating with my spouse and trust that He would and more importantly that Mark would hear Him. It was a total act of trust on my part. Which was really what God was trying to heal in my life.
Trust was not re-built in a day, a week, or a month with my husband. It was probably the better part of a year when I begin to let my heart open up again to Mark.
Trust is only re-built by the acknowledgment of the pain, time and a change of behavior.
We have both worked very hard, but here we are 9 years later doing better than ever and the thing that caused such great pain is now being used to help heal others walking through similar stories.
Just like an interpreter would have come in handy back at my favorite nail salon, it is good to know that, if we allow Him to be, the Good Shepherd and the Great Physician can also be the Great Interpreter.