It’s very common for marital couples to complain of having problems with their communication. And it’s very easy for those couples to want to find some sort of easy solution that’s going to fix their communication problems. That might be learning some active listening skills or maybe if they memorize some more proverbs about communication. But my position is although those are good things, they’re ultimately not going to be helpful in the end, at least not as helpful as thinking more deeply about the nature of communication issues.

Matthew 15:18 says, “For what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart.” So if you really want to understand the core of what’s driving communication problems, which really are just symptoms of something deeper, you need to look at the heart first. Marital couples develop patterns in the way they communicate with each other. Some of those are helpful and healthy, some of them not so much. In fact, some of them are even sinful. And therefore it’s critical that a couple be able to get beyond the surface-level arguments—about money or parenting or whatever issue—and understand that there are more significant issues around what it means to connect on an intimate, vulnerable level that must be addressed. It’s really our core fears around being naked emotionally and relationally with one another that are at the heart of what leads to communication struggles. 

If a couple is able to shift their focus away from those more surface, symptom-related problems in their communication to what’s going on underneath at the heart level regarding their fears and insecurities, and they can talk about those matters, and they can do it with vulnerability, then it’s possible for them to connect at a heart level with each other. To experience a sense of intimacy that enables them to feel close and to trust each other, to feel safe with each other. And that then becomes a foundation out of which their communication can flow. That enables them to be able to work through what I was calling those surface-level issues.

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