When it comes to communicating with your spouse or anyone you are close with, the five love languages are a great place to start. If your spouse feels loved then communication tends to be better and easier. If they do not feel loved, communication will breakdown.
So let’s take a look at the five love languages. You can read more about these in Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages
A compliment speaks a Thousand Words! – It’s nice to get compliments from your co-workers, your boss, your friends, your parents or your children, but nothing compares to a compliment from your spouse.
Control that Biting Tongue – Words can kill, damage and destroy.
Dispel Dominance – Real love makes requests, not demands.
Talk less, listen more
Gifts: a Remembrance, a Symbol of love
The Gift of Self
In Everything you do, do it for Love
Hold her when she cries
Touch as if it’s always the first time
Talk to your spouse about what their love language is and what yours is
Tell your spouse what is most meaningful to you – don’t make them try to figure it out – (Women)
All of these are important even if it’s not a primary language
Start today, tonight before you go to bed.
This week I taught a class entitled “The Top Ten Relational Needs”. It is based on a workbook by that title from Great Commandment Network.
God made us with needs, and God promised to meet those needs.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
Paul is telling us that God is willing and able to meet all of our needs. It also acknowledges that we all have needs as human beings
Neediness is a characteristic of our God-given identities.
Here are the Top Ten Relational Needs:
These needs are the same for anyone, no matter where your from, no matter how young or old you are.
It’s OK to have needs, it doesn’t mean your weak. When we understand our needs, it humbles us and builds our character.
Only God and other people can meet our needs. Why did God create us this way?
My question for you is this. Of the top ten relational needs listed above, which three are most important to you and which three are most important to your spouse or significant person in your life? If you can figure that out and then communicate clearly to each other about it, your relationship will begin to improve. You can control whether or not you are meeting these needs with others, you cannot control whether others will meet your needs. However, if you are loving and serving the other person the likelihood of them meeting your needs goes way up. If your too needy, that pushes everyone away from you. You have to first meet the needs of others and show that you can do it in a healthy way.
One of the most powerful and helpful things we can do to be healthy emotionally, physically and spiritually, is to practice forgiveness. Forgiveness enables a person to release buried anger, resentment, bitterness, shame, grief, regret, hate and other damaging emotions that live inside of us. Forgiveness releases layers and years of hurt and begins the healing process. Forgiveness leads to an ability to love well.
It is important to know what forgiveness is and what it is not.
We should never base our decision to forgive on a person’s good behavior compensating for previous hurtful behavior. Forgiveness is something that happens inside of you, it comes from your desire to forgive for the sake of forgiving. Waiting until a person is worthy of forgiveness will feed your damaged emotions and cause further hurt.
Always remember that it takes only one person to forgive, but it takes two people to reconcile. You can forgive a person even if they don’t forgive you, but reconciliation always requires the wills of both parties involved.
There is so much more to forgiveness than what is covered here. Some of the principles I covered come from Neil Anderson and his booklet called Steps to Freedom in Christ. If your having a hard time making the choice to forgive, ask God to help you. He can give you the strength to do it.
Being positive and encouraging people is more important than you might think. If you want to turn around your workplace, your company, your marriage or your relationship with your children this is the way to do it. Here are some interesting quotes from a great book called How Full Is Your Bucket by Tom Rath:
So it’s clear that the majority of people don’t get the positive reinforcement they need. I believe this is true at work and at home. Some people are just naturally more positive than negative, but all of us can get better at this. Here are a few simple things you can do this week to be more positive or encouraging:
One thing to be aware of as you work on being positive is to be careful what you are taking in. What you watch on TV, what you read, what you listen to, all affect how positive or negative you are. Feed your mind positive good things and you tend to be more positive to other people.
I’ve been thinking and studying this idea of love. I have to say that I need to work on this area of my life. I think most people would say they can do a better job of loving others. But for most of us we don’t know what that looks like. I work at a church so what I look to in order to learn and grow is God’s Word. I was reading this today and it really struck me and challenged me. I hope it does the same for you. This is found in Romans 12:9-21 in the New Century Version of the Bible:
9 Your love must be real. Hate what is evil, and hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves. 11 Do not be lazy but work hard, serving the Lord with all your heart. 12 Be joyful because you have hope. Be patient when trouble comes, and pray at all times. 13 Share with God’s people who need help. Bring strangers in need into your homes.
14 Wish good for those who harm you; wish them well and do not curse them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and be sad with those who are sad. 16 Live in peace with each other. Do not be proud, but make friends with those who seem unimportant. Do not think how smart you are.
17 If someone does wrong to you, do not pay him back by doing wrong to him. Try to do what everyone thinks is right. 18 Do your best to live in peace with everyone. 19 My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with his anger. It is written: “I will punish those who do wrong; I will repay them,”[a] says the Lord. 20 But you should do this:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him a drink.
Doing this will be like pouring burning coals on his head.” Proverbs 25:21–22
21 Do not let evil defeat you, but defeat evil by doing good.
Just that first sentence, your love must be real is enough for me today. You can’t fake love.
Love is all about doing and taking action. It’s about how we think about ourselves, others and God. The best way we can worship God is by loving others well.
Relationships can be messy, difficult and yet incredibly rewarding.
There are many things that go into a healthy, vibrant relationship like marriage. But I believe there is one vital ingredient to a long-lasting, healthy relationship: Patience.
In Galatians 5:22 – as part of the fruit of the Spirit we find patience: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”.
Then in 1 Corinthians 13:4 – “Love is patient…” The author Paul is talking about the true meaning of loving someone well and he starts with patience. In Galatians he is talking about evidence in our lives that we are growing spiritually, and right in the middle is patience.
So let’s take a closer look at patience:
Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering, without getting angry or upset.
Wow, that is impossible, but incredibly powerful. Imagine if you could do that on a consistent basis. Your life would be less stressful, you would be healthier and your influence with other people would go up. So how do you do that?
The Benefits of Developing Patience
Tips on How to Develop Patience
None of this is possible on a consistent basis without including God. On our own we will fall short every time, yet we can plug into the power of God. So in those moments when you do not want to be patient, a quick prayer asking for help can change everything.
One last thing, when someone is mistreating you or abusing you, patience should only apply with how you respond. Not responding in a way that fuels the fire. You should never simply take abuse. Setting boundaries and consequences is important in those situations. If your in an abusive relationship go get help and set clear boundaries.
Last night I taught a class called Refocus Your Marriage. Really it could be called Refocus Your Relationships. I thought I would share a few of the opening comments I shared with that group.
Here are three important truths to remember:
I want to introduce you to the emotion that destroys relationships. This has been going on for thousands of years since the beginning with Adam & Eve. It has been destroying relationships and people very effectively. At the core of every person is a button called fear. That fear takes many shapes, things like fear of failure, fear of abandonment, fear of rejection, you name it.
From where does this fear come from? Let’s take a look at the creation story with fresh eyes Genesis 2:17 – After God created Adam & Eve, he informed them about two special trees blossoming in the middle of the garden: The tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Regarding the first he gave no commandment. But the second he said “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
Why did God create a perfect garden and then put these two trees right in the middle? Why not outside the garden? I think it was because he created us to depend on him, not living an autonomous life apart from him. He gave that command to not eat of the tree so that we wouldn’t become self-sustaining and insist on stubborn control of our own lives. He wanted us to daily choose to trust Him for everything we need.
I believe that command created a healthy fear in Adam & Eve, the fear of being separated from God. It also created a fear of losing each other as well. Well along comes Satan, or the Serpent and he plays on this fear. “Did God really say, You must not eat from any tree in the garden?” Eve replies exactly what God told them, we can eat from any tree in the garden except the tree in the middle of the garden, you must not touch it or you will die.
“You will not surely die, serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. My guess is that Eve thought that her fear of being separated from God was not true and therefore took the fruit. This caused a whole new fear to take root. This fear was unhealthy and destructive. When Adam & Eve heard God walking in the garden they hid, because they were afraid. There fear caused them to respond in a certain way. After eating the fruit their response became unhealthy, defensiveness, blaming others.
Our relationships are much the same way. We all have hurts from our past or guilt from us hurting someone else. Those hurts and guilt drive the fear that drives our unhealthy behaviors. That causes us to struggle to have healthy, happy relationships. To learn more about this idea of fear and relationships read the book by Gary Smalley called “The DNA of Relationships”.
Relationships are hard and messy and most men are not good at developing healthy relationships. Once we get married it is easy to sit back and focus on our work and providing financially or focusing on our own needs. Most guys, myself included are selfish and we are not always thinking about how to love our wives or lead our household.
Peter talks about this in one of his letters that is part of the Bible. Peter talks a lot about submission, respect, blessing and honor. This is not only in marriage relationships but in all relationships. He writes this after having spent a significant amount of time with Jesus. After observing how Jesus treated other people he was able to write about how we should treat our bosses, our political leaders and our spouses.
I want to zero in on his comments to husbands. in 1 Peter 3:7 he is talking to husbands, I like the Message version of the Bible which says “Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God’s grace, you’re equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don’t run aground.”
He is calling husbands to live with their wives in an understanding way. We are to honor our wives and model submission and service. We are to initiate blessing, rather than retaliate when things go wrong. Men are called to be spiritual leaders and that means we take responsibility for the health of our relationships. This means we set the tone and we initiate what we want others to do. Don’t wait for her to start treating you with respect before you make an effort to love and respect her.
The way we treat our wives will affect our spiritual health. It starts with us and how we respond to our wives. The words we use, the things that we do, the time that we take, and the way that we listen.
Peter sums this up by saying this “Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless-that’s your job, to bless. you’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.”
Now I realize that we won’t always get it right and we will mess up. We will do selfish things and say stupid things, but in order to love our wives we must keep pushing forward, trying to understand our wives and treat them as a precious gift. Being humble means asking for and giving forgiveness on a regular basis. The key is to not give up, keep trying to learn how to love your wife better, learn from your mistakes and above all else keep growing closer to God. Only God can help you to love your wife the way you should.
I spend a good bit of time with people that are in the midst of personal catastrophes. Most are relational struggles, whether in a marriage, a family or at work. The health of our relationships are an indicator of the health of ourselves.
Whenever I am meeting with someone that is going through a relational struggle, I always try to bring it back to the person I am talking with. There is not much in life that we can control, but when it comes to ourselves, we do have a choice in what we do, think, say and believe.
For someone that has a broken relationship, it always starts with yourself. It is easy to look at those around you and blame their behavior, attitude or hurtful actions for why things are so bad. Yet that will never resolve the issue or change the circumstances. It always starts in your own heart. It starts with your own character. Your character is who you really are. It will reflect how much you accomplish in life and how well you love yourself and others.
Your character is the internal script that you follow in response to conflict, mistreatment, pain and even success. When that script is focused on yourself and preserving or getting what you want, the actions that follow will usually dig the hole even deeper or add fuel to the fire. Part of our character is the defense mechanism’s we have developed over the years in dealing with conflict and pain. It might be sarcasm, humor, withdrawing/silent treatment, yelling/escalating or even going into fix it mode.
Changing that internal script is hard work, yet it is the only way to work through a relational crisis. It starts by taking personal responsibility for what you contributed and how you have reacted. Then it involves the hard work of self-actualization, seeing yourself, your reactions, your character and your beliefs and where you are off course. This is hard work and will take the help of God and other people. It means being humble enough to ask for help and to admit your mistakes. When you get on your knees and ask God to change your heart and character, that is when the rough edges start to get smoothed out. It will take time, perseverance, patience and practice, but you can change.
Working on yourself is one of the most productive things you can do in order to be successful in life. Take the time and energy to get healthy emotionally, to work through the hurts and hang-ups from your past. Take time to grow in your faith and connect more with God and involve him in every area of your life. Take time to build trust with yourself and others and work on relational skills like listening, asking questions, asking for and extending forgiveness.
The best thing you can do for any relationship in your life is to be healthy emotionally, spiritually, relationally and physically. In a relational crisis the way in which you respond will either add fuel to the fire or add water to the fire. How you respond is a reflection of your character. The choice is always yours.
Communication is one of the most important skills a leader has. The ability to clearly communicate with the people around you is vital to the success of any business, marriage or relationship.
Here are a few ideas on how to improve as a communicator. Do these these things consistently and your relationships will improve.
– understand your listeners frame of reference – this is important because everyone has a different filter. They have different experiences, personalities, hurts and hang-ups. So you need to think about how they might view what you are saying, not from your perspective but theirs.
– know the facts and the truth about the topic – focusing on the facts and truth can help take the emotion out of it. It also will help your listener understand the why behind your message.
– shed light on the issue – you need to clearly explain why this issue is important to your listener.
– get their full attention – you must know the best time to have the talk. Only address important issues when you have someone’s full attention. You might need to make a statement or ask a question that will get their attention. Never use negative tactics like sarcasm or yelling or swearing.
– use word pictures or stories – people remember pictures and stories much better than words. Try to use a story to bring clarity to what you are communicating and why you are feeling a certain way.
– focus on the real issues – it takes work to figure out the real issues that are driving someone’s behavior. Asking questions to try to understand the real issue is important, but you must listen without reacting or challenging them as they answer. Patiently ask clarify questions and even repeat back what they said.
– finally, be interactive – what I mean by that is don’t lecture someone, make it more of a conversation. When you listen before you speak, you send the message to the other person that you care about them. If things begin to escalate stop, take a deep breath and ask a clarifying question. If you cant do that, then you need a break until you or the other person are in a better place to talk.
Communication is something we do every day. If we don’t work at it and improve the way we communicate all of our relationships will suffer. If this is an area of struggle find someone to coach you, it will be well worth the effort.