Don’t you just love tough conversations?
I’ll admit, although they are difficult to have, my husband and I didn’t have enough of them in the first years of our marriage. We feared many things. How and when do I bring up something my spouse does that bugs me without them getting offended? What will his/her reaction be if I confess a temptation or sin? Will I make them worry that it is a bigger issue than it really is? What will they think of me if I share this deep, ugly part of myself? Because of these fears we lacked a necessary vulnerability with each other and learned the hard way. Through trial and error, we agreed that we would rather say what needs to be said (gently) and be temporarily uncomfortable than to avoid the uncomfortable conversations and remain ‘surface level’ in our marriage.
Bishop TD Jakes says:
“To live life hiding your flaws from those you love is to deny them the strength of love that builds a bond unbreakable. It keeps the relationship watered down to such a weak level that most really important relationships will not withstand the lack of trust that is exhibited when we never trust anyone with our whole self and only share with them who we wish we were.”
Those who can’t or won’t have tough conversations are missing out on the beauty of a depth of love that only the brave experience. Isn’t this the core of what every person yearns for the most – someone who knows the ugliest parts of them and yet LOVES them deeply anyway? Isn’t this a picture of Christ’s love for us?
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” –Romans 5:8.
Marriage has the ability to reflect the love of God in such a beautiful way if we allow ourselves to go deeper in our level of transparency.
My husband and I implemented a little system called APP night. I know, it’s cheesy, but it works for us. APP night is Accountability, Prayer and Planning. These are three things we always intended to do together, but sometimes failed to make time for. We have a list of accountability questions to ask each other, such as: How have you been tempted this week? How can I improve as a spouse? How was your prayer/Bible time this week? Time management? Insecurities? (The list goes on, but you get the point. Ours is tailored to ask things that we specifically want accountability for). We like this system because our hearts are prepared ahead of time to both communicate and receive the tough stuff.
Over time, transparency got easier and less painful. We began to develop a deeper intimacy and bond together in the Lord. It’s not full of tough confessions every week. Sometimes we breeze through the questions and there isn’t anything serious to discuss. However, in times that it is on the tough side, we have made a rule that we will provide a safe place for vulnerability through our reactions (It would be a lot harder to be transparent if one persons emotions got out of control!)
Then we have Prayer – we take time to pray together about anything that was discussed and anything else we feel led to pray for. And then, at the end, we plan. We plan our future, goals and look over our finances together and make sure we are on the same page.
There is power in a marriage that is completely transparent, on the same page and covered in prayer! I have a great respect for marriages who strive for authenticity and are willing to endure the tough talks to become stronger. I’m convinced that those marriages are the ones that will go the distance because they are built on a love that is truly genuine. Not perfect, just real.
-Written by Melissa Miller
Melissa Miller leads the Women’s ministry at Urban Church in San Diego, California. She also has a passion for parenting, writing, speaking and putting a stop to human trafficking. You can follow her on twitter at @MelSMiller.