Debbie Hogan (Co-Founder of Standing Stone Ministry) has identified four C’s in “Sailing the C’s of Marriage” that will help effectively navigate a successful marriage in ministry. Without effectively navigating these four “C’s” it’s impossible to have a successful marriage. Amidst the challenges of ministry life, finding the time and energy to work on these will pay immeasurable dividends for both your marriage and ministry.
In this blog series, you’ll hear Debbie’s insightful perspectives on the four vital ingredients for a successful marriage. (Review the first C on commitment.)
The next sea we’ll sail on is the sea of COMMUNICATION. Years ago one of our friends was going through a divorce. We had her for dinner and she asked us what the most important thing in our marriage was. We both said simultaneously: “communication.” She was surprised because she said the most important thing in her marriage was sex. We weren’t surprised that her marriage failed. I’m not saying sex isn’t important. It is and I’ll get to that later. But a marriage based solely on having a good sex life is not likely to stand the test of time.
Part of establishing good communication with your husband is to trust your husband and show your husband that he can trust you. This means that there are certain things that should be held in strict confidence between the two of you. Be very careful about the things you share about your husband to your friends or family.
In the early years of our marriage Jim and I became friends with a group of couples who were all very successful. The men worked long hours. Several of the women would get together and complained about their husbands. They decided they needed a break from the kids so they would take off on girl’s only weekends and leave the kids with their husbands. Jim really wanted to spend weekends with me and the kids so I only went with them once. All they did the whole weekend was gripe about their husbands. Unfortunately one marriage after another ended up in divorce. An occasional girls night out can be great but be careful of the conversations you have when you are enjoying them. Nothing can cause rougher seas in a marriage than having your husband find out that you can’t be trusted with something he has told you in confidence or finding out you are trash talking about him behind his back. Women who go that should have spent time in a marriage counselor’s office instead of in Las Vegas with their girlfriends. There have been times when people have said that they didn’t want me to tell Jim something they have told me. I’ve told them to please not tell me because I share just about everything with my husband. I need him to be a sounding board that I can trust and vice versa.
When communicating with your husband please be honest with him. Be honest enough to express the way you’re feeling or he may never know. We often play a game that goes like this: “I’m feeling something and you’d better figure it out!” But men aren’t good at that game. They need to be told: “I’m really tired, will you take the kids so I have a few minutes to myself!” Most women have intuition but most men do not.
In case you haven’t noticed, men communicate in a different way than women. Women talk a lot more than men do. God gave us two eyes, two ears and one mouth and I think they are to be used in the proportion in which they were given. Developing good listening skills is the key to successful communication. Often times we are spending so much energy thinking about how we are going to respond we don’t listen to what is being said. Jim and I have found a great way to better communicate is to “parrot back” what we think we have heard. When I repeat back to Jim something he told me I often discover what I thought he meant he didn’t. This has helped clear up a lot of miscommunication between us.
Another key to communication is picking the right time to communicate. I discovered that if I started telling Jim about all the problems I had during the day as soon as he came in the door from work I would get a blank, glazed stare in response. If I let him go in and change his clothes and relax for awhile I had a much better response.
Sometimes it’s helpful to actually have a tool that helps you communicate. A “communication stone” is a tool that works well for us. We put a smooth stone on the kitchen counter when we want to talk about something. Who ever has something to say holds the rock and gets to talk. We pass the rock back and forth so we have equal time talking and listening. This has really helped us be better communicators. Learning to navigate the sea of communication is essential to a good marriage.
Standing Stone Ministry cares for ministry couples one couple at a time by offering to form a lasting mentoring relationship, beginning with one week away in a beautiful serene location, where they are hosted with excellence and mentored with love. Learn more about Standing Stone Ministry can help your ministry marriage.