Communication and Conflict

Nothing is as easy as talking, but nothing is as difficult as communicating! Hear 10 Biblical Principles of healthy communication and start improving your communication skills in marriage, today!

TRANSCRIPT

INTRODUCTION   
(Start with Communication & Conflict Title Slide) 
For every married person in the room, I know you have conversations like this one:  
“Hey, how’s your day?” 
“fine
“What’s the matter?”
“Nothing” 
“It doesn’t seem like nothing” 
“Like you even care” 
“well, I do care, that’s why I’m asking” 
“well, thanks for asking…for like the first time in 3 years…I swear all you ever do is hang out with your friends, you never talk to me anymore… 
“I never talk to YOU anymore…” 
Yeah, that’s what I said.  
“Huh, well since we’re keeping score…What do you do to contribute to this family? 
“Oh, so now you think I don’t contribute… 
RIGht??  
Communication, conflict…ugh…let’s talk about it this morning…as we continue our “Happily Even After” marriage series.  
Marriage expert Dennis Rainey says it this way: 
“Nothing is as easy as talking; nothing is as difficult as communicating.” – Dennis Rainey 
In marriage, you will face a lot of conflict, some big, some small, but you can’t resolve conflict without good communication.  
It’s impossible!  
We’ve talked a lot in the 1st two weeks about serving the other person and looking in the mirror.  
But that doesn’t mean that you never communicate how you feel. 
That doesn’t mean you spend the rest of your life saying, “No, whatever you want.  That’s okay. I’m fine. You just do what you need to do.” 
Absolutely not. 
Yes, you need to serve and look at your own issues…and that’s a big deal 
But you’ll also never have a great marriage if you don’t know how to communicate your feelings to your spouse 
And so this morning, I want to give you TEN Biblical Principles for Healthy Communication that I see in the Bible. 
Now, this is targeted at marriages, but for those of you that aren’t married, 80-90% of this is going to apply to any friendship or family relationship you have as well.  

WE NEED TO LEARN IT & WORK ON IT! 
Here’s the first principle:  
TEN BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR HEALTHY COMMUNICATION 
1. We Need to Learn it and Work on it!  
Just like anything in life (whether it’s learning a new language, a new skill, a new job), if you want to improve on something, you need to learn about it…and work on it!  
The Bible says it this way: 
(Proverbs 12:18) – NIV 
The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
   but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
We need to WORK towards developing the “tongue of the wise” and not the “words of the reckless” 
Some of you have completely opposite personalities to your spouse  
You’re an extrovert who just blurts out every single thought in your head, and they’re an introvert who only wants to say something once they’ve first  chewed on it for 17 days first 
These type of personality differences can lead a lot of the arguments to feel ugly…
And so you need to work on how “you two unique people” can communicate w/ each other
Get help!  Go to counseling, go to marriage seminars.   
Read books on it 
Let me recommend to you a Christian book that has an amazing few chapters on communication 
Danny Silk’s – Keep Your Love On  
Go to a marriage getaway like FamilyLife Today’s “Weekend to Remember”  
Listen to marriage or communication podcasts. 
Almost all of us KNOW that we have communication problems, but we’re not doing anything to fix it…besides waiting for our spouse to fix it first!
Anything that’s worth fighting for is worth working for!
The challenge is most of us were never taught or trained on how to correctly translate our thoughts, feelings and wants…let alone communicate them to someone we love.  
So, good communication starts with ALL OF US saying, “We need to work on it, get help, and get better at it!”


QUALITY TIME CULTIVATES GOOD COMMUNICATION  
TEN BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR HEALTHY COMMUNICATION 
1. We Need to Learn it and Work on it!  
2. Quality Time Cultivates Good Communication  
This one we can pull from how we are to communicate with our God. 
Jesus is constantly telling the Pharisees that it’s not JUST about the WORDS they say, but it’s bout cultivating their heart toward God 
We’re encouraged to communicate with God firstly this way: 
(Matthew 6:6) – NIV 
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
You can’t just talk…you need good, quality time together…having meaningful conversation. 
And yet a lot of us are so busy… that we just want to pray on the run…and that’s it. 
In a similar way, married couples struggle to establish quality time together…and thus rarely have quality communication.
Sure, you might “be in the same room as they are,” but you watching Netflix on TV, and them staring at their phone, is NOT quality time.  
It varies depending on which study you read, but the average married couple now spends only 20-30 minutes a WEEK having quality conversation with each other. (that’s 3-4 minutes a day)
They might say, “Hey, what do you want to watch?  Or hey, what are we having for dinner? Or, can you change the diaper?” 
But when it comes to, “How was your day?  How are we doing? What are you thinking about lately?” 
When it comes to “quality conversation”…3-4 minutes a day!
There was a longitudinal study done that studied 400 couples over 30 years, and they found that the “happy” couples in the study, almost always tended to spend at LEAST 10 minutes a day talking about meaningful things. 
Many spent an hour…or more…with the TV off, the phone on the counter…TALKING. 
And it doesn’t always have to be, “And now, if you would commence sharing your daily deepest, darkest secret… 
90% of the time, it’s just, “Hey, tell me what happened today.  I want to know” 
Can you get back in the habit of doing this? 
It’s what you did when you dated!  And it worked!
What having meaningful, daily communication does, is it CULTIVATES and GROWS your ability to have effective communication.  
You learn how to talk and respond to each other’s emotions and feelings in a relatively safe environment.   
And it can effectively defuse stored up anger too. 
Like a dam that regularly opens up the gates to lower the pressure. 
Sometimes couples get into such intense arguments because they’ve pent up something for so long. 
(Ephesians 4:26b) – NIV 
Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
It’s good advice.  
Talk things out…each day.   
But if you’ve gotten away from daily, meaningful conversation…and your marriage has turned into the two of you just basically burying yourself in technology every night, or just basically only communicating about your schedule for the next day…
What will happen when a larger conflict comes along, your communication muscles will have atrophied.  
You’ll be out of practice!  
You won’t have the skills anymore to do it well. 
SO make time, every day, to shut everything off and have meaningful conversation.  


GOD GAVE YOU TWO EARS AND ONE MOUTH
TEN BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR HEALTHY COMMUNICATION 
1. We Need to Learn it and Work on it!  
2. Quality Time Cultivates Good Communication  
3. God Gave You Two Ears and One Mouth
When we think about communication, too many of just think about talking. 
Some of you extroverts, that’s all you’ve been thinking about until right now! 
You’ve been thinking:  “Oooo Good! 10 tips on how to talk better!”  
And your introvert spouse is rolling their eyes… ☺ 
If you really want to improve communication in your marriage, start with working harder on listening. 
One of the best Biblical passages on communication is James 1:19 
(James 1:19) – NIV  
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
Good Biblical communication is to try and listen first. 
It’s to work on attentive listening… 
Not just, (Looking at my phone), “Uh huh, yeah…yep…you’re super mad…wait, you’re what?”  
Practice letting the other person say their thing first.  
(Proverbs 18:13) – NIV 
To answer before listening—
   that is folly and shame.
And work on UNDERSTANDING what they are saying 
One of the phrases I use a lot in the office, that I probably could use more in my marriage is, “What I hear you saying is…” 
Before you respond to what they said, you want to make sure that you even understood them correctly. 
By the way, I’d say at least 40% of the time when I say that phrase to people they say, “NO, that’s not exactly what I’m saying.  What I mean is…” 
Be QUICK TO LISTEN!  


YOUR SPOUSE IS NOT A MIND READER   
The listening piece of advice is really important for the verbal processors in the room, but for the rest of you…you perhaps need to hear this one: 
TEN BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR HEALTHY COMMUNICATION 
1. We Need to Learn it and Work on it!  
2. Quality Time Cultivates Good Communication  
3. God Gave You Two Ears and One Mouth
4. Your Spouse is Not a Mind Reader 
I’m not sure how it happens, but too often people fall into this false thinking of, “If you really loved me, you would just know what I need.” 
No, they don’t know, even if it’s obvious…trust me…they don’t know.  
And most of the time, it isn’t that obvious. 
Neither of you are mind readers.   
You can’t try and convince someone to care about your needs without ever sharing with them what your needs actually are.  
For some of you, this is a real beginner’s step in this. 
Start this week with bravely sharing your feelings with the other person…take some baby steps here. 
In fact, as we go through these 10 principles today, I want each of you to take at least ONE of these principles and commit to working on them. 
And by the way, the mind reader piece works both ways 
It can be equally frustrating when a spouse DOES think they can read your mind. 
And they interrupt you and say, “Oh, you don’t even need to say it.  You’re not doing this because you’re afraid of what might happen” 
And you’re thinking, “Um, no I’m not, and you’re not in my head!” 
(Proverbs 18:2) – NIV 
Fools find no pleasure in understanding
   but delight in airing their own opinions.


BELIEVERS MUST BE SLOW TO SPEAK 
TEN BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR HEALTHY COMMUNICATION 
1. We Need to Learn it and Work on it!  
2. Quality Time Cultivates Good Communication  
3. God Gave You Two Ears and One Mouth
4. Your Spouse is Not a Mind Reader 
5. Believers Must Be Slow To Speak 
THIS is a major current of wisdom that runs throughout the pages of the Bible. 
Look at that James verse a second time
(James 1:19) – NIV 
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
Just because you think it…doesn’t mean you need to say it…or at least right in that moment. 
One of the things I always notice about wise people is that they don’t talk a whole lot. 
And when they do talk, they often pause before they speak.  
(Proverbs 10:19) – NIV 
Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
   but the prudent hold their tongues.
I could have used this advice 10 years ago.  
I can look back on a lot of arguments, that are almost certainly my fault, because I hadn’t learned the art of “being slow to speak” 
Some of you this room have incredibly high standards, others of you communicate every emotion you’ve ever felt…
But listen, part of having good communication in marriage is choosing to be “slow to speak” 
It’s choosing your battles (as we said last week)
It’s deciding to pray this prayer: 
(Psalm 141:3) – NIV 
Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
   keep watch over the door of my lips. 
Do you have a door on your lips?  That can close?
I’ll tell you: Wise and Godly people have doors.  And sometimes they wisely keep them shut. 
We can’t spew everything our sinful hearts bring to our brain

HOW, WHEN, AND WHERE…MATTERS 
TEN BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR HEALTHY COMMUNICATION 
1. We Need to Learn it and Work on it!  
2. Quality Time Cultivates Good Communication  
3. God Gave You Two Ears and One Mouth
4. Your Spouse is Not a Mind Reader 
5. Believers Must Be Slow To Speak 
6. How, When, & Where…Matter
There are going to be times you feel upset by the other person…and it’s not enough to just “look in the mirror” or serve them. 
You need to communicate your feelings with them.  
But HOW you say it…matters. 
(Proverbs 15:1) – NIV 
A gentle answer turns away wrath,
   but a harsh word stirs up anger.
You could say A), “I can’t believe you’re working late again tonight.  You basically don’t even care about me or the kids…all you care about is your career” 
OR, you could say B), “I feel really hurt and disappointed that you are working late again tonight…can we talk about that later?” 
You’re going to have different results! 
HOW you say it matters. 
If you need to write out first…and then say it, often that’s incredibly helpful. 
We train all of our leaders to do that when they have difficult conflict resolution. 
WHEN AND WHERE you bring it up matters. 
This is connected to being “slow to speak”  
One of the things I always like to encourage couples to do is to have “couch conversations” not “kitchen conversations”
This comes out of Proverbs 25:11 
(Proverbs 25:11) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION !!!! 
Timely advice is lovely,
   like golden apples in a silver basket.
A kitchen conversation is when you’re hanging out in the kitchen (could be anywhere), or just walking somewhere in the house, and an argument starts. 
They say, “Why is Johnny’s unfinished homework still on the table?  I thought you were helping him with it?” 
You say, “Well, I don’t’ remember saying I would” 
“Are you kidding me?  You don’t remember…that’s …. Ugh…you are never responsible anymore…it’s like I can’t count on you for anything…over the last 10 years, I can’t remember one time… 
WHOOOAAAAAAA Hold on…timeout…
The principle is…you’ll never fix anything big in a “kitchen conversation”…that is an argument that just started “on the fly”
If you do have a big issue to talk about…if the person really has been irresponsible…then that’s a “couch conversation” 
You say, “Honey, tonight after the kids are in bed, can we sit down on the couch and talk about something that’s been on my heart lately?” 
That’s still going to be a really hard conversation, but your chances of it being successful just shot way up by it being a “couch conversation” and not a “kitchen conversation” 
HOW, WHEN, and WHERE all really matter in communication.  


ANGER IS A COMMUNICATION KILLER 
TEN BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR HEALTHY COMMUNICATION 
1. We need to learn it and work on it!  
2. Quality Time Cultivates Good Communication  
3. God Gave You Two Ears and One Mouth
4. Your Spouse is Not a Mind Reader 
5. Believers Must Be Slow To Speak  
6. How, When, & Where…Matter
7. Anger is a Communication Killer
I want to come back to that James verse on communication one more time: 
(James 1:19) – NIV 
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
Let me just say, if you’re an angry person…you’re the type to hit a wall or start “screaming matches”, this is not an easy thing to fix. 
It’s worth even seeking help over. 
But you have to know, and both of you have to agree to, in principle, that anger is a “communication killer”
I get it, sometimes you feel things passionately.  
And you want the other person to know it…and you don’t know what to do with all of that anger. 
But the anger will never help you communicate what you want.  
It’s never going to help you get your point across BETTER…
It’ll always make it worse. 
It just creates fear…and division. 
It puts a wall in between the two of you.  
If things get really heated, learn the skill of walking away to calm down. 
When you have a new baby at the hospital, they don’t give you a manual for parenting, but they give you like a one page insert with like 4 tips.  (thanks?) 
And one of them is, if your baby is driving you insane, and you’re thinking about going crazy, just go into a different room for 10 minutes until you calm down. 
Yes, the baby is going to cry, but that’s the better alternative. 
It’s the same thing in marriage.  
If you’re so angry, you think you might explode…leave the room…go to a different room…and when you’ve prayed, (yelled it out to God), then come back.  
Because you will NEVER communicate well in anger.  It’s a communication killer. 
Do what it takes to calm down first. 


SET BOUNDARIES FOR HEALTHY COMMUNIATION 
This next one is really connected to the previous few
TEN BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR HEALTHY COMMUNICATION 
1. We need to learn it and work on it!  
2. Quality Time Cultivates Good Communication  
3. God Gave You Two Ears and One Mouth
4. Your Spouse is Not a Mind Reader 
5. Believers Must Be Slow To Speak  
6. How, When, & Where…Matter
7. Anger is a Communication Killer 
8. Set Boundaries for Healthy Communication 
Because only a respectful conversation is going to be productive for you, you need to learn how to STOP communicating when the communication is not respectful.  
The Bible tells us to have conversations like this 
(Ephesians 4:29) – NIV 
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
This is having a boundary for healthy communication 
It looks like this: 
Once someone starts either engaging in something really serious during a “kitchen conversation,” or guilting with really hurtful words, or yelling in anger… 
That’s when you want to say, so calmly (and not with guilt), “Hey, I feel like both of us have passed the boundary of healthy communication…whatever we say from here on out…isn’t going to be helpful for us, so let’s stop this for now…and maybe pick it up later” 
That’s such a healthy communication skill that you both need to talk about beforehand…
Because we all start to say “too much” once things get heated…and it’s counterproductive.   
Now, You have to be careful to not play this card all the time. 
If your spouse says, “I want to talk to you about something serious” 
You can’t say, “You’re yelling at me”
“I was actually whispering” ☺  
But don’t be afraid to call out these boundaries if they are actually crossed.  


HUMILITY IS THE FOUNDATION 
TEN BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR HEALTHY COMMUNICATION 
1. We need to learn it and work on it!  
2. Quality Time Cultivates Good Communication  
3. God Gave You Two Ears and One Mouth
4. Your Spouse is Not a Mind Reader 
5. Believers Must Be Slow To Speak  
6. How, When, & Where…Matter
7. Anger is a Communication Killer 
8. Set Boundaries for Healthy Communication  
9. Humility is the Foundation of Communication 
One of the problems right now, is that plenty of you are overly excited to go home and start communicating with your spouse all of the ways they need to change. 
Firstly, go back and listen to weeks one and two of this series again first.  ☺ 
Secondly, put yourself in their shoes. 
They can’t change…they won’t understand your feelings (if your feelings are RIGHT & GODLY)…unless they are humble, right?  
And the same is true for you! 
Couples can’t communicate in pride. 
And defensiveness, by the way, is just pride.  
If someone says, “I really need you to spend more quality time with me” 
And you respond, “OH, so it’s my fault??  The fact that we haven’t been on a date is ONLY my fault?” 
If you want your marriage to grow, and you want to become closer, YOU Have to be Godly enough to hear that you’re not perfect.  
You’ll never work on anything unless you both can start with the idea that you’re not perfect 


MAJOR CONFLICT REQUIRES MAJOR WORK 
Here’s the last one: 
TEN BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR HEALTHY COMMUNICATION 
1. We need to learn it and work on it!  
2. Quality Time Cultivates Good Communication  
3. God Gave You Two Ears and One Mouth
4. Your Spouse is Not a Mind Reader 
5. Believers Must Be Slow To Speak  
6. How, When, & Where…Matter
7. Anger is a Communication Killer 
8. Set Boundaries for Healthy Communication  
9. Humility is the Foundation of Communication 
10. Major Conflict Requires Major Work 
So what do you do if your spouse doesn’t want to get on board with any of this?  They don’t really want to work on communication…or even, honestly, with improving your marriage???  
For one, that doesn’t mean you give up. 
You still speak the truth. 
Which we always do IN LOVE. 
(Ephesians 4:15) – NIV 
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
If we have love without truth, it won’t work. 
If we have truth without love, it won’t work. 
We speak the truth, IN Love. 
In difficult situations, we apply everything we’ve already said. 
You listen well, you don’t assume you know their mind, you’re slow to speak, you pick the right time to talk about it, you don’t get angry… 
But when you’re STILL not heard…and they don’t want to change… 
Maybe they’re deep in addiction, or their hearts have grown cold towards God, or they don’t want to save your marriage…. 
You start by recognizing, there are no silver bullets here. 
There’s not one thing I’m going to say in a message that’s going to save a marriage…there’s not one podcast they could listen to… 
Major conflict requires major work. 
If you’re in a major conflict right now…get to counseling…no ifs ands or buts. 
If you’re not sure where to start, send us an email.  Or reach out to your house leader 
In major conflict…you need not just “General Advice” (which is what this is), you need SPECIFIC advice...for your UNIQUE situation. 
You need specific advice from those around you, like your house group friends, your House Leader (who are our spiritual elders) 
BTW, if you’re not in a House Group, you NEED community for times like this!
And if it’s a major issue, you really need advice from an expert. 
And more than anything, you need a strategy of prayer. 
To ask God to soften their heart, and your heart. 
A strategy of prayer. 
To pray every day. 
To have people around you praying. 
Many times, that’s the only way some of these situations get resolved.  


CONCLUSION 
But marriage isn’t easy. 
Communication isn’t easy. 
But it’s one of those things that if you work at it, the results are so worthwhile.  
Let’s pray.  


Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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