“We Need to Talk”
“We need to talk.” No one would argue that communication is a key ingredient to a healthy marriage, but prefacing a conversation with these four words can cause dread in the most talkative spouse. Effective communication is not an innate skill, but something we must learn. Research verifies the importance of communication in building and maintaining marriage relationships. Research has also shown that reestablishing communication is one of the challenging hurdles couples must face during reintegration and post-deployment.
Just consider the on-going practice of OPSEC (Mission Operational Security) during a deployment. As a couple, you may have communicated regularly via text, email, or video-chat, but there were things your military husband could not discuss. Moreover, you may have kept some information from your husband that you did not want to worry him about during his deployment. If not addressed, these protective practices could become a pattern of keeping secrets after reunion.
Nehemiah 1 offers an example of healthy communication. Some Jewish leaders came to Nehemiah and said, “We need to talk.” They gave an assessment of what was going on in Jerusalem. The need for repair and restoration was significant both for the people and for the city. Nehemiah listened with empathy to their assessment about the city. Honest communication motivated him to set a goal to improve the situation.
Communication is necessary to evaluate your circumstances following a deployment. Guard yourself from glossing over reality and succumbing to the “I’m fine … Everything is fine …” defense. Communicate with your spouse. Give each other space to offer an assessment of how things have been and express what needs to happen to rebuild your family. Ask God to give you an empathetic heart to understand your spouse’s needs.
Nehemiah also went to the Lord and said, “We need to talk.” The pain the remnant experienced moved him to pray and fast on their behalf. The issues caused him personal pain, but he did not focus on himself and the effect the news had on him.
Be assured you too can come to the Lord and say, “We need to talk.” God is ready and willing to listen.