God’s plan for the family is to build, strengthen, and protect it. But Satan has declared war on the family as he seeks to undermine, weaken, and destroy it. The statistics are staggering: the divorce rate has risen over 700 percent in this century, and there is one divorce for every 1.8 marriages. Since communication is key to oneness in marriage, Nate Heitzig examines the Scriptures to find how to deal with communication breakdown in a marriage, both how to prevent it and how to repair it.
Connect Recap Notes: September 30, 2018
Speaker: Nate Heitzig
Teaching: "Communication Breakdown"
Text: Ephesians 4:25-32; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
God's plan for the family is to build, strengthen, and protect. But Satan has declared war on the family, wanting to undermine, weaken, and destroy it. With divorce rising over 700 percent in this century and one divorce for every 1.8 marriages, the family is under brutal attack. In this teaching, Nate Heitzig talked about how to deal with communication breakdown in a marriage:
- Preventing Breakdown
- Repairing Breakdown
- God brought Eve to Adam to fill a void, a deep loneliness, and to complete God's purposes for the world. God said, "It is not good that man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18). With Adam and Eve's union, the institution of marriage began.
- Marriage was designed to be good and fulfilling, but it requires effort from both people and an obedience to God and His Word.
- Positionally, a married couple is one flesh, but they must work on unity. One of the key ingredients to oneness in marriage is communication. When ignored, it can have a detrimental result on a marriage. Malachi 2:14 states, "The Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companionand your wife by covenant." Companion means one you are united with in thoughts, goals, plans, and efforts.
- The apostle Peter said, "Dwell with [your wife] with understanding, giving honor" (1 Peter 3:7). Dwell means to be aligned to, and honor means to give maintenance to.
- To prevent communication breakdown:
- Don't lie (see Ephesians 4:25). Lying is more than telling falsehood; it includes exaggeration, flattery, making excuses, and bargaining.
- Truthfulness does not demand telling everything we know with no regard for its impact. Our concern should be for God to deal with our feelings and remove them, not use them to destroy others in the name of truth.
- A proper response should include honesty, baring our hearts, and speaking the truth in love.
- Don't avoid conflict, but don't use conflict as a weapon (see Ephesians 4:26). Recognize there is righteous and unrighteous anger.
- It's okay to fight, because when it's done right, it can lead to greater intimacy, shared goals, and mutual respect. When conflict leads to loss of temper, ranting, screaming, and yelling, it becomes a destructive force.
- Remember this: no one person can wound your mate like you, and no one can wound you like your mate. Be careful.
- We can be angry, yet avoid sin. Don't give an occasion and opportunity to the Devil.
- Don't be selfish (see Ephesians 4:28). At its core, this verse deals with jealousy and selfishness. Marriage cannot survive if jealousy exists within it.
- The basic principle of marriage is about relinquishing your rights to another person. Love doesn't take; love gives.
- Conflicts and communication breakdown in the home are a result of people being motivated by selfish desires rather than spiritual ones.
PracticeConnect Up: If "God is love" (1 John 4:8), then love should characterize a Christian marriage. Love is best seen in the person of Jesus. It's also defined in 1 Corinthians 13. Using that passage, discuss how the following characteristics should influence marriage, giving examples—good or bad—from your experience: patience, kindness, not envious, not boasting, not proud, not dishonoring, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeping no record of wrongs, rejoices in truth, protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. If you are not married, how can these love truths help form a healthy relationship?
- Communication isn't just about what you don't say; it's also about what you do say. Love is active. Love doesn't make you feel something; it makes you do something.
- To repair communication breakdown:
- Speak kindness (see Ephesians 4:28). The principle of this verse is: use your hands for good; build something up. Proverbs 31 states, "Her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness…. Her husband praises her" (vv. 26, 28, NLT).
- As 1 Corinthians 13:4 says, "Love is kind" (NIV). Patience will take anything from others; kindness will give anything to others. If love is learned but not lived, it is a lie.
- How do you encourage your spouse? Don't become so comfortable in your marriage that you forget to compliment your mate.
- Trust each other. As 1 Corinthians 13:7 says, love "believes all things." Believe the best about your spouse. Love is not suspicious or cynical.
- Guard against bitterness. Ephesians 4:31 focuses on key concepts to avoid: bitterness, wrath, anger, and evil. Paul tells us to put way these things.
- If we communicate improperly and without grace, a root of bitterness may settle in (see Hebrews 12:15).
- The Greek word for bitterness gives the idea of cutting, pricking, and puncturing—a continuous pain that you inflict upon yourself and others.
- Here's how to avoid being bitter:
- Love "endures all things" (1 Corinthians 13:7). Love will not stop loving; it won't surrender or stop hoping.
- Consider the other person through the eyes of Jesus: they are valued and loved. Compare them to yourself: you, too, are a sinner, outwardly and inwardly.
- Once we realize that we are as bad off as everyone else, it becomes easier to love anyone.
- If there is one thing that should characterize marriage, it is love.
- Ask your spouse, "Do you feel loved?" If so, thank God. If not, admit your sin, apologize, and determine that you will love him or her as Christ does, with forgiveness and grace.
Connect In: Share some ups and downs of communication within your marriage (or another close relationship, if you're not married). What have you learned from them? How did you deal with a communication breakdown? How did you restore communication? If you are not married, what principles of communication do you think a marriage should entail?
Connect Out: How would you reach out to a person struggling with communication problems in their marriage? Focus on the Family encourages using the acronym DEAL:1 "Don't take the bait. Explain the impact of the behavior and express your needs and expectation. Ask questions to draw your spouse into dialogue to gain understanding. Let go of the need to manage your spouse's behavior. Manage your own." Do you agree with these tactics? What would you add?
1 Deb DeArmond, "4 Steps to Deal With Conflict in Your Marriage," 2018, https://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/communication-and-conflict/4-steps-to-deal-with-conflict-in-your-marriage
, accessed 9/30/18.
- Satan has declared war on the family
- Because God's plan is to build, strengthen, and protect the family, Satan's desire is to undermine, weaken, and destroy it
- Over the past decades, we've witnessed the slow destruction of the American family and family values
- Over the past century, the divorce rate has increased by 700 percent
- Every year, over a million children are involved in a divorce in the US
- The reason cited for many divorces is "irreconcilable differences"—but differences are a part of life, especially marriage
- A successful marriage requires effort on the part of both spouses
- For a marriage to work, the couple must commit to an obedience of God and His Word, as well as laying aside this world's distorted concept of marriage
- It takes a lifetime of pursuit to find out what oneness is all about; marriage won't work out unless we put work into it
- Communication is the most vital area in every marriage
- Don't let anything or anyone cut off that lifeline
- A marriage is either made or broken by communication
- Without strong communication, no relationship can survive
- Your spouse should be your best friend
- Malachi 2:14: a companion is one with whom you are united in thoughts, goals, plans, and effort
- 1 Peter 3:7
- Dwell means to be aligned to
- Honor means to give maintenance to
- If we have a breakdown in communication with our spouse, we will have a breakdown in communication with God
- Your marriage should be your priority
- "[Leaving]…father and mother" (Genesis 2:24) also means giving other things a lesser priority—career, house, hobbies, even church work
- We need to learn how to communicate biblically
- Preventing Breakdown
- Don't lie to your spouse
- Honesty is the first thing you need in a relationship; without it, there is no foundation for your relationship
- Deceit creates distrust of the relationship as a whole and causes us to question our relationships
- Satan is the Father of Lies, and if we begin to live a life of falsehood, we will soon forget what is actually true or false; we'll begin to create lies to cover other lies, and that creates an unstable foundation upon which nothing can be built
- Psalm 101:7
- Revelation 21:8
- Deceit includes more than just outright lying
- In the ESV translation of Ephesians 4:25, lying is replaced by falsehood; this includes exaggeration and flattery
- Another form of falsehood is making excuses—not owning up to your own mistakes, but shifting blame for them
- Don't use the truth for the specific purpose of hurting your spouse
- Truthfulness does not demand saying everything we know and think without regard for the impact of our words
- As Christians, we should rely on God to deal with our feelings—for God to remove them—and not use them to destroy or tear someone down in the name of truth
- Always speak the truth in love (see Ephesians 4:15)
- Don't avoid conflict, but don't use conflict as a weapon
- It's okay to get angry and frustrated, but we have to temper that anger and frustration with patience
- We shouldn't avoid conflict; it's okay to fight
- Conflict can lead to greater intimacy, shared goals, and mutual respect and honor
- Conflict can be healthy, but when it leads to outbursts of anger, it can become a very destructive force
- How we respond to anger and conflict is important (see Proverbs 18:19)
- There's nothing wrong with conflict, but there are rules (see Ephesians 4:26)
- No one can wound you the way your mate can, and no one can wound your mate the way you can; when you purpose to hurt your mate, you're being self-destructive
- When we refuse to settle conflict in a godly manner, we are allowing Satan to speak lies into the heart and life of our spouse—we are becoming a microphone and a megaphone for Satan into our spouse's life
- Know when and where to deal with conflict; pick your battlefields wisely
- Be patient (see 1 Corinthians 13:4); love's patience is the ability to be inconvenienced, or taken advantage of, over and over
- Don't be selfish
- Marriage cannot survive if selfishness exists within it; the basic principle of marriage is relinquishing your rights to another person
- Build your relationship on selflessness, not selfishness
- Don't look at your spouse and say, "You need to be better"—look at yourself and say, "I need to be better" (see James 4:1)
- Love doesn't take—love gives; the great barrier to this is self
- Conflicts and communication breakdown in the home are the result of people who are motivated and directed by selfish desires rather than spiritual ones
- Marriage is a mirror
- It reflects
- If you don't like the way your marriage looks, don't blame your spouse—they're simply showing you a reflection of yourself
- The love Jesus spoke of is a love that turns the other cheek; its primary concern is for the welfare of others, not itself (see Matthew 5:38-39)
- Repairing Breakdown
- Communication isn't just about what you don't say; it's also about what you do say
- Love is active, not abstract; it doesn't just talk—it walks
- Love is fully love only when it acts
- Love doesn't make you feel something—it makes you do something
- Love is a verb (see 1 John 3:18)
- Speak kindness
- Use your words for good, not evil
- It's not enough to just not criticize—you need to build your spouse up
- Don't say something to get something, but to simply encourage
- If patience will take anything from others, kindness will give anything to others (see Matthew 5:40)
- When your spouse takes something from you or hurts you, don't respond in kind—respond with kindness
- If love is only learned and not lived, it is a lie
- Don't become so comfortable in your marriage that you forget to compliment your mate; it's amazing what a kind word can do in breaking down walls and leading to forgiveness (see Romans 2:4)
- Trust each other
- Love believes the very best of every person (see 1 Corinthians 13:7)
- Because you love your spouse, you'll stick up for them
- Guard against bitterness (see Ephesians 4:31)
- This is important for preventing breakdown as well as repairing breakdown
- The danger of a breakdown in communication is that it can lead to bitterness in your heart
- Bitterness is a settled hostility that poisons the whole mind
- If we fail to communicate properly, bitterness and resentment will settle in and spread until it destroys that relationship
- We need to empower each other, not demean each other
- We need to amplify love and silence bitterness (see Hebrews 12:15)
- The Greek word for bitterness springing up speaks of a thorn in a garden—a continuous, torturous pain that you inflict upon yourself and others
- Roots of bitterness grow in gardens left unattended, and each day they grow a little deeper and a little harder to uproot
- Love refuses to give up, to surrender, to stop believing or hoping; love will simply not stop loving
- There are two ways to defeat bitterness and endure all things:
- Consider the people in your life through the eyes of Jesus: as He was dying, His concern was for His murderers rather than Himself (see Luke 23:34)
- Compare the people in your life to yourself—think about your own sins and realize that your list outweighs theirs
Cross references: Genesis 2:24; Psalm 101:7; Proverbs 18:19; Malachi 2:14; Matthew 5:38-40; Luke 23:34; Romans 2:4; 1 Corinthians 13:4, 7; Ephesians 4:15, 25-26, 31; Hebrews 12:15; James 4:1; 1 Peter 3:7; 1 John 3:18; Revelation 21:8
Keywords: bitterness, family, husband, kindness, love, marriage, relationships, spouse, talk, trust, wife