Those Hairline Cracks! – Sept 14

By Poppy Ivone


I have a theory. My theory is that many problems in an initially loving, flourishing marriage can often be traced down to one root cause: communication breakdown.!


If we liken marriage to a building, the symptoms of communication problem are like those hairline cracks on the wall. They start small and look harmless. Yet if left to progressively worsen, they could compromise the structural integrity of the marriage, potentially causing it to fall apart.


John Gottmann, a professor at the University of Washington, did a sociological study in which he identified four communication styles that can predict the end of a relationship – the Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse.


The first horseman is criticism. Criticising our partner is different than offering a critique or having a complaint. The latter two are about specific issues, whereas the former attacks our partner at the core.


The second is contempt. This spiteful and disrespectful communication uses sarcasm, ridicule, name-calling, and/or body language such as eye-rolling. The partner feels despised and worthless.


The third is defensiveness, an easy one to fall into. When we do sin, we use excuses and blame shifting, “You triggered me.” We respond defensively and turn the table around to make it our partner’s fault.


The fourth is stonewalling. We avoid conflict either because we are unconscious of our own feeling or because we are afraid. Rather than confronting the issues (which tend to accumulate) together, we make evasive manoeuvres such as tuning out, turning away, being busy or engaging in obsessive behaviours. This could degenerate into the couple functionally living two separate lives.


We’ve heard about how women need love and men need respect in a relationship. I

believe there is another X-factor to a happy marriage. Quoting Friedrich Nietzche: It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.


Pastor Greg Laurie, an award-winning author, evangelist, public speaker, and happily married for 41 years, has a good piece of advice: Your best friend should be your partner.


This echoes how God thinks a woman should be regarded in her husband’s eyes: ’your companion and wife’ (Malachi 2:13). A liberal definition of ‘companion’ is one you are united with, thoughts, goals, plans, and efforts. And let’s face it, best friends have great fun together!


How strong is the friendship in your marriage? Don’t ignore those hairline cracks. Start

repairing now.

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