We know that communication is key to nurturing a close marriage, but how can you do that daily, and intentionally?
Several times a year, local newspapers print stories about elderly couples who have managed to navigate sixty-plus years of marriage. This is often accompanied by a photograph of the couple sitting together and holding hands. Inevitably the ‘secret’ to their long and happy marriage is—communication. But rarely are details given of how this ‘communication’ might be enacted throughout the life of a marriage.
Married couples communicate every day. It may be subtle, such as withholding communication because we are upset or angry. It may be non-verbal, such as a touch, a kiss, a nudge. It may be informative: the doctor said this, the school teacher said that. Also ideas, thoughts, anger, love are all communicated in many ways. But a valuable habit to establish in a marriage is intentional communication.
Intentional communication is when both parties agree to set aside time to verbally communicate—to have ‘coffee time’. Coffee time is a daily habit where couples sit down and talk. This may be downloading your day, sharing respective loads, brainstorming, obtaining partner’s perspective on a problem, short-circuiting aggravation within a marriage, discussing important issues affecting family … and the list goes on (see Coffee Time Guidelines).
Once you have decided to establish coffee time in your daily routine, then establish the boundaries around what you may initially share. Wait until the daily routine is established and working before bringing up any big issues. Use the time to build intimacy, trust and support.
Prioritising marriage is necessary for marital longevity. Many just ‘go with the flow’, but it says in Nehemiah 4:14: ‘…Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.’ This verse tells us to not only take a defensive stance, but to fight for our marriages.
Coffee time can assist couples to circumvent potential threats to their marriage and family unit. It enables them to stand side by side and push back anything that may destabilise the relationship. Intentional communication is just that—intentional and, if adhered to, can insulate you against the negativity and isolation that often wears away at marriages.
(c) 'War Cry' magazine, 8 September 2018, p10- You can read 'War Cry' at your nearest Salvation Army church or centre, or subscribe through Salvationist Resources.