My Messy Messages

Today we’re linked to Chrysalis, 
exploring the topic of communication –
 


Just the other day I decided to “communicate” my displeasure with something my husband had said earlier to me, by using sarcasm to strike back at him. Honestly, I thought it would get my message across in a “funny” way. After all, everybody loves a comic, right? I guess I have this idea that using humor actually cushions the blow.
It didn’t.
Although my communication style in that moment—using sarcasm—wasn’t healthy or constructive, it also wasn’t the root of my problem. (Nothing like psychoanalyzing myself! Ahhh, the neurotic life of a counselor! ha!)

The real problem with communication—and what makes it especially messy—is that speaking a message to our spouse is only a small part of the equation. We also communicate a message to ourselves about our spouse.
Earlier when my husband had said something critical to me, I told myself several things:
  • I don’t deserve this kind of treatment
  • He doesn’t deserve my kindness or patience
  • He doesn’t understand me
  • He doesn’t really love me
  • He needs me to set him straight!
I don’t know if this is all that I told myself, but it demonstrates the kind of fuel I was adding to a communication bonfire of sorts. And this “bonfire” is not the kind of glowing amusement you want s-more of! (oops! Sorry for the lousy shtick!)
 
In all seriousness, this communication concoction of feelings, words, hidden agendas, and smoldering resentments is bound to burn the recipient, AKA our spouses. 
I know it did mine. 
And I have a renewed motivation to, first of all, become aware of what I’m communicating to myself about my husband, especially in times of conflict or hurt. And secondly, I’m committed to challenging my negative inner voice with God’s truth.
So, how will I do that second one? I will ask God, in the heat of the moment, to open my eyes to the lies I’m embracing. I will ask God to renew my compassion and patience with my husband. I will take steps to forgive my husband and not let my lingering anger fester into fiery darts that I throw at him.
In 2 Corinthians 10:5 it says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” I love that terminology—”take captive.” So that’s exactly what I intend to do …
Will you join me in “taking captive” every thought and communication?
  • Bloggingmome

    Yes, I will join you…apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, there is no good answer to communicating better in the future. This post was GREAT…and a real encouragement to my heart. Thank you.

  • Wow, right on! Our inner voice can so easily screw up the communication opportunities. Speak love to my husband in my head before I speak allowed, even if it is something serious or something you are upset with him about…

    This comment you made had me going TOTALLY!
    “In all seriousness, this communication concoction of feelings, words, hidden agendas, and smoldering resentments is bound to burn the recipient, AKA our spouses. “

  • Lisa Maria

    How I can relate to this! Those negative inner voices… and the hidden resentment etc. letting go of these are the key to true forgiveness. I pray for all of us women that we will have the strength to filter out those lies and focus on God’s truth!

    Thanks for an encouraging post!

  • Kim Quon

    Beth, I know that it’s difficult to communicate everything we want to in any given post. What you communicate here is the kind of Christian wife mindset that (I truly believe) hampers husband’s growth. It is this same sweet, forgiving, humble, thoughtful, helpful, introspective, patient Christian wife that WILL earn her crown in Heaven, but many times will have to suffer through a horrible marriage here on earth. Many times what it takes is for the husband to start treating the children poorly before she wakes up.

    I believe that you SHOULD tell your husband ALL of the things that you told yourself and you should really let him have it. In Scripture Jesus says, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” If your heart feels misunderstood, unloved, mistreated, uncharitable and resentful it would be a good thing for you to let your husband know. And if it’s so bad that you get a little sarcastic, you have to remind yourself that he’s a big, grown up boy who, as a spiritual leader, should be able to take it. If he’s anything like other husbands, it’s not as though he hasn’t dished it out himself.

    The “help” that you can be to your husband is this: be an honest gauge about how he affects your spirit. That’s the feedback he needs to allow him to be the spiritual leader you need. It’s only in this way that he will be able to correct the ways that make you feel mistreated, uncharitable, misunderstood, unloved and resentful.

    This is where I believe wives need to pay attention to the feelings that their husbands elicit and not squelch them. Jesus DID NOT make anyone feel the things that you describe and as His emissaries, neither should husbands. This is why Scripture encourages husbands to love their wives like Christ loved the church. That is the model. It IS a HIGH standard, but there it is.

    Again, I know from personal experience, having been that uncaring, thoughtless husband myself. God bless you, Beth!

    In brotherly love, Kim

  • chasenajsmom

    so. guilty.
    Great Post. TOTALLY relate!

  • Faith @ Gold in the Clouds

    Thank you for sharing so honestly from your heart! I too do some counseling (or have in the past I mean) but mainly to women not married couples. I think the one commentor named Kim though is not correct in the statements about showing your husband sarcasm. Sarcasm is typically a cover up for real feelings….we need to love our husbands (and yes, they need to love us like JEsus loves the church) but we also need to remember we all are human. We will not get everything right and perfect here on earth. we can strive for it.
    I think you are brave for showing us your heart on this matter….and it was a real blessing to read! i’ve never seen your blog before so I’m glad i spent some time tonite browsing thru the linky list at emoms! 🙂 I think the best thing for our marriages is to remember to love, honor, and respect one another…and meet each other’s love language. I firmly believe that when those things are in place, after spending time together intimately with Christ, that it helps our communication. There are ways to tell our husbands that we feel a bit resentful or angry, etc. without hurting him. hard to explain what I mean but this post was excellent in showing that we do need to speak the truth in love.

  • Beth Steffaniak

    You’re right that it is difficult to communicate everything that is necessary in a single post–especially since I try to keep my posts concise and short. So that’s probably part of why you’ve perceived what you have about this post. But please know that I am only speaking from my personal perspective and not my husbands. That leaves it up to the reader to assume his position in all of this. But I only want the posts on this blog to reflect my feelings and thoughts as well as what “I” am responsible for–not what my husband is responsible for. Perhaps this is a jumping off point for my husband to share his side of the equation, because I can assure you that he recognizes his own culpability in the scenario that I described.

    And as far as sharing all of my emotions with my husband, my husband and I are very open with each other. In fact, our openness has been what has gotten us in trouble! We need to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) and “let no unwholesome talk come out of our mouths” (Eph. 4:29). And I was letting “unwholesome talk” come out of my mouth when I spoke with sarcasm.

    I just need to learn to express my hurt in a way that doesn’t inflict more hurt on my husband. Of course, when I express my hurt, my husband feels pain too. But if I express it with a pure heart and respectful attitude, it can result in “Godly sorrow” (2 Cor. 7:10) for my husband rather than a “worldly sorrow” that is a result of feeling hurt by my harsh words. I just think trying to lash out with my hurt feelings toward my husband muddies the waters and makes him less able to see his part in the problem–not to mention the fact that I believe God wants us to treat each other respectfully in all matters–even matters of emotion.

    Thanks for your thoughts. It certainly brought in a differing perspective and that’s what the blogosphere is all about!

  • e-Mom

    Ho, ho! Some excellent thoughts here: I especially like this:

    “…I’m committed to challenging my negative inner voice with God’s truth Very very relevant!.

  • e-Mom

    Sorry, my comment got cut off…

    Thanks for joining us for Marriage Monday today Beth. An excellent post!

  • Tonya Vander

    I liked your post. “I will ask God to renew my compassion and patience with my husband.” I so get this. It truly is amazing to have God come in and change your heart on something. Thanks for sharing!

  • Thanks so much for creating “Marriage Monday” and for stopping by, friend!

  • Kim Quon

    Beth, Thanks for allowing for the “differing perspective.” I apologize for bringing a man’s perspective to the conversation, but there are precious few places where men honestly discuss Christian marriage issues. The views that you are expressing are the patent “Christian” responses. The fact is that this approach IS NOT WORKING, as evidenced by the divorce rate among Christians.

    Sometimes a husband has come to me after his wife has left him and said, “I had no idea. She’s never given me a hint that she was unhappy.” There’s part of me that says “Yeah, you really don’t have a clue about what’s going on around you.” (sarcasm) But, there’s another part of me that believes him because his wife was that sweet, Godly woman who never spoke an unwholesome word, but allowed resentment to build until she exploded. Many Christians have an unhealthy and/or confused attitude towards feelings and emotions. We’re told not to trust them or pay attention to them, yet they are the very things that indicate our spiritual state.

    I have seen an interpretation of the ancient pictogram for the Hebrew word “ezer,” meaning “help.” The translation is “revealer of the enemy.” If your responsibility in the marriage is to be a “help” to your husband, you can reveal the enemy of his sin by feeding back to him when he is offending you. If he offends you to the place where you become sarcastic, then the best thing to do for him is BE SARCASTIC. When you say your openness was what got you into trouble, to me it can only mean that your husband refused to get the message and adjust his spiritual leadership. If the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, but your husband leads you into sarcasm, then there’s something amiss with the leadership. But, the leader won’t know unless the helper let’s him know. (Many frustrated wives say, “If he doesn’t get it, then he’s as thick as a brick. I’m not going to help him any more.”)

    I know why many wives will resist this aproach, though. It’s a heavy responsibility and many know that they will pay a heavy price for speaking up in this way. It’s a sad statement that many “Christian” men will not receive ANYTHING from their wives in the way of help. I suppose that’s the sinful nature that endures even after supposedly accepting Christ. Sorry for the long reply. Obviously I feel strongly about these issues and want the best for Believers in their marriages. I don’t think much of what they get in the mainstream Church is giving it to them. Peace, Kim

  • Kim Quon

    Faith, I know this is going to sound terribly extreme. When you say, “There are ways to tell our husbands that we feel a bit resentful or angry, etc. without hurting him,” it is exactly the opposite of the help he needs from you. When he leads you to that place, is he acting in Christ? 2Cor5:17 says “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold new things have come.” I don’t believe this happens in the blink of an eye. A husband who is not “in Christ” NEEDS TO BE HURT. Needs to “pass away.”

    And that’s NOT ALL! A husband who proclaims to be a Believer, but is acting un-Christlike not only needs to be hurt; he needs to be crucified. Gal 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” So you see, the very thing you are trying to protect, should actually be crucified.

    That does sound extreme doesn’t it? But what do you want from your husband? Christlike or Semi-Christlike?

  • Why is it so much easier to believe bad about a person, even our spouse, than good? I think it’s our carnal human nature that seeks out self-preservation at all costs! We have truly fallen into the “looking out for #1” mentality and we apply it to all walks of our life, even our marriages!

    I have been in those same shoes feeling that my husband doesn’t deserve my kindness, patience or gentleness but rather I have found myself hoping that God would blast him and show him how lucky he is to have a wife like me!! Talk about self-serving!

    I think when we have our relationship with God in its proper place and we are seeking the heart of Christ, all those other things in our life fall into place. Even if our spouse dopes NOT change, the way we respond does!!
    Connie