The following post came up in my Facebook newsfeed today, so I revamped it a little and have re-posted it.
The day Don and I were married no one could have convinced us we could be any more in love than we were that day! However, after 41+ years of marriage we both know love can deepen or it can fade. We have experienced both, and we have chosen the path of deepening our love.
It didn’t happen overnight, and at times it took hard work!
One of those times, was six months into our marriage. It was a lonely and scary season, and it felt as if we were adrift at sea with no compass to guide us. Thankfully, at that time we were scheduled to take a group of college kids to a campus ministry retreat, where (unknown to us) the speaker’s topic for the weekend was “Relationships”. Not only did his presentation include humorous anecdotes regarding the difficulty of communication in marriage, but it also brought much-needed answers!
One resource mentioned by the speaker was a book titled “To Understand Each Other” by Paul Tournier. This concise book opened our eyes and our hearts to the amazing dynamics of communication. Tournier’s challenge was to be courageous enough to share our true selves with one another, and as a result come to a deeper understanding of the person God brought to us in marriage.
As we worked to apply the concepts in the book we began to move past our fears and share our deepest thoughts. The author was right —it definitely took courage to remove our self-protective shields and care more about understanding each other than being understood. It was a process that took time and caring. But it also brought incredible transformation! Our communication deepened, our acceptance of one another flowed more easily and our enjoyment of each other became a delight! We fell more deeply in love!
Today, as I look back at that season, here are a few helpful “take-aways” from what we went through:
- Listen and apply the counsel from someone who has walked the path ahead of you.
- Ask this question of each other — “What do you hear me saying?” Their answer will let you know if they are still not understanding what you are saying. Try again to explain. And then ask the question again. Keep at it until understanding comes.
- Handle your spouses heart as carefully as you want yours handled.
- Work hard to understand your spouse, rather than working to be understood.