Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mountains between Communication

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Mark 11:23, "For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says."

Of course, in order to speak to a mountain, you must first identify it. Many couples struggle with the same communication barriers over and over again, because they have not developed insight into their problem. I picture a person walking straight into a wall over and over again developing a new bruise with each collision. Is it not the same in marriage? We often deal with our hurt feelings only to encounter the same communication obstacle days later.

One hindrance to effective communication is lacking the desire to understand your spouse. I am reminded of the Bible verse, Jeremiah 29:13, "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." We have all been in that place before truly knowing the Lord in which worldly desires overshadow our desire to see God. If we apply this to our marriage, it requires an initial introspection. What is the area of self-centeredness in my life that is deflating my desire to truly know my spouse? Once the focus is turned to your spouse, other communication barriers can be illuminated.

An obvious communication wall in relationships is a lack of communication skills. For this barrier, I like to apply the verse Hosea 4:6a, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." Unfortunately, some marriages are ultimately destroyed simply because one or both did not learn how to communicate with one another. Both husband and wife can care very deeply for one another, but it is not adequately expressed in a way that is understood.

Listening is an essential part of the art of communication. I think of it as "active white space" between words on a page. True listening demands a heartfelt pause that conveys respect and interest in what the other is saying. It is crucial to not think about your response or reaction while your spouse is talking, but rather absorb everything that is being said without interference. This is rather difficult and must take concentrated effort because it is our human nature to conjure up new thoughts while the other is talking.

Of course the complement of good listening is adroit expression. This takes us to the third hindrance to communication which is emotional wounding and distress. If we have been deeply rejected in an area of our lives, silence takes residence where our psyche has been scarred. Of course when the fighting approach has failed, the emotional defense of withdrawal or "flight" response can take over. This is a natural fleshly response, and it is important to renew our emotions through the healing of the Holy Spirit, just as we renew our minds. If you recognize withdrawal in your spouse, you must encourage him/her to express what they have deadened inside. Love has the power to awaken the voice that has been silenced in our partner either through past relational wounds or current ones.

Oftentimes, when one spouse is withdrawn, the other will become aggressive or even verbally abusive which exacerbates this negative cycle. Verbal abuse, although seemingly opposite in manifestation, is closely kin to withdrawal because of its common cause. A partner who practices verbal abuse more than likely is emulating negative communication patterns witnessed as a child or in a past toxic relationship. Psychologically, people revist or recreate the origin of trauma. This definitely indicates a critical care area in a relationship that requires professional help and rehabilitation.

Once the mountains have been identified, there is a tremendous hope and expectancy that arises. This takes a tremendous amount of faith and perserverance. Mark 11:24 says, "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them."


Post a Comment