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Communication in marriage is so important. I’ve heard it said that money problems are the cause of most marriages, and problems with sex are second. But I’ve also read that it isn’t those problems, but the inability to communicate about problems – those and others – that is the cause of most divorces. Failure to learn to communicate effectively within your marriage will hinder the growth of your relationship and may very well contribute to any problems you have. Therefore, it is important to understand some basic ground rules for communicating with your husband. To help you, just remember the “5 P’s” of communication.
First, pray. Don’t skip this step, even though you may be tempted. Pray that your communication with your husband would reflect the principles of Scripture. Pray specifically that your words would be wise, sweet, and deliberate. Pray about frustrations you are having and about when to approach your husband. Pray that God will change your heart.
Second, learn to be patient. Time is almost always at a premium in everyone’s life. It is for you; it is for your husband. So, once you’ve prayed through your concerns, learn to wait until the right time to talk. My parents modeled this well for me. They always sat down and discussed the day, no matter what hour it was, when Dad came home. This was their routine from the earliest memories I had. Howard and I have adopted this practice – although we did not always do it perfectly. Having time at the end of the day to just connect with each other is important. Sometimes, life just gets too busy to have this daily time; believe me, I understand! But aim for a daily talk and settle for four or five days a week. Talking less than three times a week should be a red flag.
Third, come prepared. Prepared to talk, prepared to listen, prepared to connect with your husband. Part of your preparation might be making a list of concerns you want to discuss. This could include anything from the dryer making a funny squeaky sound, to how to discipline your three-year-old when she backtalks, to when you might have your next date night. Write it down so you don’t forget anything you want to cover.
Fourth, make an appointment when you need to discuss bigger issues. This will give both of you time to think and pray about the issues, and you’ll both know that the time you’ve chosen is set aside just for discussing touchy topics. Topics that Howard and I have covered in these appointments included discipline issues, schooling issues, curfew-breaking, finances, job changes, moving, and intimacy. Your list of sensitive issues to discuss at a conversation date may vary from ours. Just be certain that you both know going into the conversation what will be discussed. Have some ground rules for talking as well: speaking in “I” statements; avoiding “always” and “never;” repeating back what the other person said; setting a timer if necessary; even having a “let’s table this for now” sign for if the conversation is getting too heated (something like a secret word – “warp speed” or “muggle” would work).
Finally, you need to keep the big picture in mind and not worry about ‘winning.’ If your husband is set on proceeding in one way, even after discussing, then agree. If what he is deciding does not put you or your children in danger, let him lead. For example, if your husband doesn’t want to give the tithe and you do, present your reasons to him in a scheduled conversation. If, after presenting your reasoning, your husband is still not willing to tithe, let it go. Or if he says you can tithe on your income but he isn’t going to tithe on his, accept it. It is God’s job to convict him, not yours. Your job is to follow his leading, respect, love, and help him.
The “5 P’s” of communication can help you to have more understanding and fruitful discussions in your marriage. Why don’t you grab your calendar right now and schedule those daily talk dates – when and where will they happen? If you don’t plan for it, it likely won’t happen. Then go pray up, so that your daily talk dates are fruitful and build your friendship with your husband. If touchy subjects come up during your daily talk dates, grab that calendar again, and schedule when to tackle the hard topics. Talk to your husband daily – about everything – and your relationship will grow.