Good communication is tough! If we all lived in a quiet house with plenty of time to talk to each other about the important details of life – it would be easier, but still not completely fail proof! And in this super-busy season of raising kids and running a ministry through your home, time and quiet to talk with your hubby are only found when fought for. Even then someone usually wakes up crying, or needing something, or a phone buzzes with another interruption!
Even though Jeff and I sometimes travel around the country teaching on communication and conflict, we still struggle sometimes to understand each other. Just the other day he left early for work but there was tension in the air. Years ago I may have stewed on it for awhile but God has graciously grown me and I was quick to text an apology for being, well, snotty. (I cringe to admit it but there it is!) We later talked it through with a spontaneous lunch date sans kids– a rare and fun treat with three homeschoolers and a busy schedule.
That same morning after miscommunicating with my husband I went to my favorite hairdresser and carried on my pattern of not clearly explaining the picture in my mind. I’ve learned an important lesson from that experience. It is easier to recover from a miscommunication with your husband than you hairstylist! I am now a redhead. Every strand of red hair that used to be blond is a reminder to me how tough it is to clearly articulate what we want/need/desire….even when we think we are being heard. (BTW I love my hairstylist and take responsibility for the mix-up!)
One tool that Jeff and I were taught early on in our pre-marital counseling that still serves us well today (though isn’t 100% full proof) is to talk using word pictures! Let me use my “tense conversation” with Jeff as an example.
I had told Jeff the night before if he wanted to get an early start the next morning that I could do carpool for the boys to their enrichment classes. The picture in my mind was that he would still help me get everyone ready to go – lunches and snacks and library books all packed up – a routine we are not used to being homeschoolers. When he heard my words the picture in his mind was he could leave as soon as HE was ready. That became apparent as I was getting ready the next morning and he came and kissed me goodbye before the boys were even all awake. It was then I realized I had not shared my word picture out loud and in detail. Consequently, my “goodbye” was a bit faltered and dismayed and short words were exchanged because I had not done a good job communicating! Tension ensued…and you know the rest of the story.
Two verses that come to mind on healthy communication are James 1:19 (NLT), “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” Follow this up with some good instructions on how to love our husbands (and others well), “Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong.” (1 Cor. 13:5b TLB)
I know I can’t love well on my own strength – I am utterly dependent on Him. And so I come to Him daily, red-head bowed, asking for help to love and listen and speak well. And when we still don’t hear each other correctly, be quick to forgive and go out for lunch! Blessings on you my mommy missionary friends, as you press into Him even more during this busy fall launch season! Know that we are praying for you!
Sherry joined staff in 1997. She robbed the cradle and married a handsome student (gasp!) named Jeff in 2000. Since then they have served in WI, SD and now in CO. They have 3 boys ages 7-12 and there is never a dull moment in their house. 2 years ago Sherry finally got her girl, a black and white lab mix who is her constant shadow. Jeff works with operations and training for collegiate. Sherry enjoys writing and encouraging mommy missionaries when she isn’t busy homeschooling.