One of the most important aspects in marriage is open communication between husband and wife. But though they may be around each other daily, it is not uncommon for married couples to neglect sharing their hearts on a deeper level. For this reason, a weekly “talk date” may be advisable. A talk date is a time away from the normal activity of life – whether withdrawing to sit on the back porch, sitting in the car, going for a walk, sipping a favorite beverage at a restaurant, or wherever – during which two people listen to and share with each other for about an hour outside the home. Getting out of the house may seem unnecessary to a husband who is undistracted by the children, the telephone, the laundry, et al., but it can often be helpful to his wife. A couple’s talk date is their time to give special attention to what each other is saying and to enrich their relationship by sharing their thoughts, dreams, hurts, struggles, disappointments, ideas, activities, schedules, and plans, and by talking through personal or family problems lovingly and without undue pressure.
Often when a couple has just begun weekly talk dates due to problems in their marriage, their first few times will be awkward, and unloving attitudes may surface in their conversations. This is not unusual because it is these very attitudes which have caused their marital difficulties in the first place. But all is not lost. This couple simply needs to begin again by confessing their unloving attitudes to God as sin and apologizing to one another for those attitudes. As forgiveness is then expressed to each other, they may resume open loving communication concerning the things on their hearts.
Even if one storms out of a talk date in anger, the answer is “keeping a short account“ by confession, apology, and forgiveness, as God works on his or her heart to reveal those things which He desires to change.
In such a situation, it should be remembered that the one who appears to have maintained his or her composure when the other storms out is almost always also harboring an unloving attitude which has been sensed by his or her spouse (cf. Prov 15:1). When this is the case, the one with the hidden unloving attitude (controlled resentment perhaps?) also needs to confess his or her sin, apologize, and seek forgiveness from the other party. Only then can he or she become part of the solution rather than part of the problem in the relationship.
Attentive listening and open sharing are, of course, not to be confined to the home, for they can and should be experienced in all aspects of one’s life, to the degree of the depth of the relationship, whether it be between employer and employee, co-workers, church friends, relatives, associates, classmates, or general acquaintances.
If one individual in a relationship avoids this kind of listening and sharing (as sometimes happens), and the other individual truly needs to communicate with him deeply about something in their relationship, it is advisable for him to write down what needs to be said. Then, after he has read it over several times and prayerfully edited it (in order to be sure that its contents and tone express God’s love), at the appropriate time he should give or send it to the one to whom he needs to pour out his heart, asking for a response when the other person is ready to give it. If nothing is said after a reasonable amount of time, he may lovingly ask if they can talk about the contents of the letter in the near future. If all else fails, at least this individual knows that he has done everything in his power to open up his heart concerning the important issues which have needed to be addressed in the relationship, and he can leave the situation in the hands of the Lord.
Insights and concepts adapted from The Heart of Man and The Mental Disorders by Rich Thomson)