Note: In this 10 part series, Richard and Linda explore various aspects of the most important institution and commitment in the history of society-Marriage. Some of the articles analyze what is happening to marriage today, while others suggest ways to strengthen marriage. Each article is headlined with a question. The series will run in Meridian for 10 consecutive days.
As we conclude this series on marriage, let us end with perhaps the most crucial advice we could give-the advice of better communication.
It is pretty easy to get most people to agree on the importance of marriage as the “committing glue” that holds families together; and on the family as the foundation and basic unit of society as we have written about these last several days . But where marriage gets hard is in the micro-in or own individual homes as we all face the pressures of keeping a relationship strong in the stresses and strains of everyday life.
We got into an energized discussion recently about the five kinds of problems that are most often blamed for divorce: Money concerns, Sexual issues,
Parenting differences, Career or goal disagreements, and Faith or belief conflicts.
As we interacted about the “Big 5” the consensus was that those are also the five things that have to be communicated about almost constantly in a strong marriage.
Think about that for a moment: The five things that are most commonly blamed for divorce are the very five things that have to be the topics of open, constant communication if a marriage is to be strong.
Consistent, candid conversation about each, the group seemed to be saying, is what will turn them into strengths and elements of unity instead of problems that can lead to separation or divorce.
It’s not that there wasn’t descent or resistance to that conclusion. One comment was “Can’t we each have our own finances-why share everything?” Another one was “Why do we have to talk about sex-can’t we just do it?” And another, “She’s strict with the kids and I’m not-we just agree to disagree.”
But by the end of the evening, most were in accord that these 5 things, if they go unresolved and un-discussed can bring down a marriage and if they are openly and almost constantly talked about can bring the understanding and empathy if not the agreement that can keep a marriage strong.
There were some wonderful ideas suggested by the group to facilitate more and better discussion of each of the 5:
–Try to always go to bed together at the same time to facilitate “pillow talk.”
–Go on a weekly date and continue the courtship.
–Have a “5-facet review” together once a month where you talk about each of your children and how he or she is doing physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, and spiritually.
–Have a weekly “Sunday session” or meeting between just the two of you where you discuss the schedule and goals for the next week. Make it more of a little get-away once a month to plan the month, and take a short trip together once a year to set goals for the year ahead.
–Pray together every night
–Adopt the motto: “Unexpressed feelings never die, they just get buried and come forth later in uglier forms.”