Marital Skills that Build

wedding ringsIt is true that marriages are made in Heaven, but maintained here on earth.  It is also true that all marriages will have their share of challenges, but many of those challenges can be prevented with a little TLC.  I’m not referring to the commonly used term Tender Loving Care.  That’s important too, but I’m talking about another set of skills:  Truthfulness, Listening to Learn, and Collaboration.  Yes.  I said skills.  Being successfully married requires skill.  I haven’t been married for very long, but in our 3 1/2 years together my husband and I have picked up a few that have helped us along the way.

Truthfulness:  But you want complete honesty, so teach me true wisdom. (Psalms 51:6 CEV)

My husband and I tell each other everything.  Seriously.  You ladies may not like this, but I even tell my husband every time I go shopping.  No hiding outfits in the trunk for me, which is what a lot of women do to spend money in peace.  I’ve never been good at hiding things anyway, but it just seems counterproductive to me.  How can we expect our spouses to trust us when we practice covering up the truth?  If you have to hide something you probably shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.  My husband doesn’t always see the need for my purchases, but at least he can trust that I’m not doing it behind his back.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve been tempted to do it, but it just didn’t seem worth it.  And I had to realize that I would not like it if he started hiding things from me.  What about you?  Would you like it if your husband hid the text messages and phone calls of another woman from you?  You may not think shopping and secret communication from the opposite sex are comparable, but they are.  Money problems can damage a marriage just as much as affair problems can.  What is more, both are birthed from the seed of a lie, and you know who the father of lies is.  Yep.  Satan.  If you allow him to enter your marriage through one lie, he’ll try to stay there and fill your relationship with more lies.

Listening to Learn:  The wise also will hear and increase in learning, and the person of understanding will acquire skill and attain to sound counsel [so that he may be able to steer his course rightly]—” (Proverbs 1:5 AMP)

When I first got married, I was teased by both married and single friends about how much time I was spending with my husband.  I didn’t want to go anywhere without him, and every free moment I had I wanted to be with him.  Well, duh!  It was all new for me.  We were spending all that time getting to know each other.  You can’t learn all there is to know about a person while dating, no matter how long you date.  It’s only when you live under the same roof, sharing everything, and I mean everything, that you get to see those interesting quirks.  That’s when the real person comes out. You can’t hide who you really are 24/7.  Anyone can put on a front for a few hours a few times a week for a date.  But forever is a long time to keep up a charade.  That being said, marriage is a life-long learning process that requires lots of listening (well, there’s another L for you). Here’s an example of how important listening and learning is to a marriage.  Since being married, I have learned through trial and several errors that my husband hates being late and that he doesn’t like to talk when he’s upset.  He’s learned that sometimes I’m a little tardy and that I need to talk when misunderstandings occur.  Here’s what happened.  One Friday afternoon I went to the gym as usual to work out.  Later on that night my husband and I were to attend an out of town church service.  Well, by the time I got home from the gym (and I hadn’t brought home any food for dinner), it was almost time for us to leave if we were going to be on time.  I walked in like nothing was wrong (well, there wasn’t anything wrong with me), and when I went to greet Russell, he gave me the not just cold but icy shoulder.  “What’s wrong, honey?”  “Is everything ok?  I implored, but to no avail.  All I got were short answers and lots of silence.  If he was going to treat me this way I wanted to know what exactly I had done wrong.  Anyway, I went ahead and rushed to get dressed.  Lo and behold, we were still able to leave the house on time.  I figured that would be the end of it.  We’re not late, so he has no reason to be mad now, I thought.  Surely, he’s ready to talk about it now.  I was wrong.  “Why were you mad at me, honey?”  I asked.  “I’m not mad, and I don’t want to talk about it.”  he replied as cool as a cucumber.  Now I was getting mad at him for getting mad at me, not apologizing for being mad at me for nothing, refusing to talk about it, and for having a don’t care attitude.  Needless to say we did not talk the rest of the night. It wasn’t until the next evening that I brought it up again.  “Are you ready to talk now?” I asked, tired of the series of silence.  He was still being his nonchalant self, but agreed to finally talk.  We concluded that the next time he didn’t feel like talking, he’d let me know that up front, but that he had to reassure me that we would in fact talk later.  That was our compromise.  We learned that about each other in that moment.  Now that we know these things, our goal is to apply them to avoid another 24-hour period of silence or worst, unresolved bitterness and resentment in our marriage.

Collaboration: “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7 KJV)

A marriage is only as good as the two people involved make it.  It’s not something you can put on autopilot and cruise through.  It takes work, and it takes working together.  Before I got married I was very independent.  I had my own house and car.  I had my own career and could take care of myself financially.  Was everything perfect for me?  No, but I could handle things.  I had also been raised by a single mother, so that spirit of I.N.D.E.P.E.N.D.E.N.C.E was all up and through me.  So, when I married Russell lots changed for me.  I had to learn to submit (still working on this) to him when I was used to doing what I wanted to do, making my own decisions, and spending my money the way I wanted to.  It took me a while to learn that it was no longer “I”, but “US”.  No longer “Mine” but “Ours”.  And while I was doing my thing and making things happen as a single woman, I’ve discovered that we are better together.  My spending habits have improved because I have someone besides myself to think about now.   Attempting to be a one-woman show in a two-person marriage is harmful to the relationship.  A woman I met shared her story with me on how her selfish tendencies (spending money, making decisions without her husband’s input, and just having a plain ole’ all-about-me attitude) contributed to her husband’s infidelity.  She didn’t say that her tendencies caused his cheating because that was completely his decision, but that in retrospect she can see that her behavior did not help the situation.  It is so vital that each person focus on what they need to do as individuals to please their spouse.  If each one would focus on his or her job, the relationship would be more productive.  But when one person tries to do the other person’s job and please themselves, you have a deficit and overall low relationship performance.

The skills of truthfulness, listening to learn, and collaboration are not automatic.  They must be taught and practiced again and again until mastered.  Luckily, you have the best teacher–the Holy Spirit, and if you ask for wisdom to improve your marital skills, He will give it to you in great supply.

I’m not judgin’.  I’m just sayin’.

Ladies and gents, what are your thoughts?  What are other skills that are needed to make a marriage work?


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tamikka
    Nov 09, 2014 @ 01:33:34

    Great post! I think that having good communication skills with each other and being a member of a church together that teaches the word of god.


    • Young Woman in Action
      Nov 09, 2014 @ 07:03:06

      Oh my goodness, Tamikka. You are so right about that. Attending the same church is crucial. Lots of people do the different church thing, but I couldn’t. Hearing the same teaching helps both stay on one accord. Thanks for commenting!


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