Posts tagged communicate


How To Start Your Story Well

part two

Dear Matt and Simona,

Last week I gave you a peek into the mistakes your dad and I made in our first year of marriage. Nothing fatal, not enough to make us give up, but hurtful mistakes none-the-less; errors in our way of doing our new life together that took a while for us to figure out.

I gave you two pieces of advice, things we wish we’d understood and implemented early on in our marriage. And today I have two more.

1.  Say no to others so that you can say yes to each other.

This is going to be as difficult for both of you as it was for us. Anyone who loves people and values relationship will struggle with sorting through and prioritizing… which in real English means being realistic and disappointing people whose favor you care about.

There is this pervasive message heralded in magazines and conversations and just about everywhere in our culture— that we should be doing more. Work faster, network smarter, connect frequently, know everything… and of course, Just Do It!

What happens in real life with all that over-doing is a weakening of relationships. You only have so much time to go around and so you end up parceling it out in tiny, unsatisfying tidbits.

Here is a better way: sit down together and create a matrix for how you will decide to use your time. I’ll be writing more about this later, but for now just start talking about it— patiently. Look for time wasters. Figure out what “fills your bucket” and what drains you— or who drains you.

Guard yourselves from those time-wasters and soul-drainers. Let your friends know that you cannot say yes without first checking with each other— that’s what married people do—without apology. It’s not confining, it’s fun!

You are now we.

2.  Be patient. With yourselves and with each other.

Resist the temptation to expect perfection—from each other or from yourselves—in all areas of your life:

  • Sexually: You’re learning. And there’s a lot to learn! Be patient with the process, enjoy the process! Keep reading, keep trying, keep talking, keep laughing.

(more on this later)

  • Time management: It’s a whole other world now of taking each other into consideration as you plan your days. Be patient with each other’s mistakes.
  • Conflict: Be persistent in talking to each other about why his not doing what he said he’d do… or how her not being available when you want her… is creating stress. Figure it out. Be nice. Try again.
  • Home: This is a whole other area neither of you have had to factor in before. Dorms and roommates are hardly preparation for making a home. Be patient, go easy on each other. Avoid bossiness or criticism and instead work together with a mutual goal of creating a space that is a refuge and delight for both of you.
  • Family: You are not the only ones making adjustments. Your families are trying to figure out how best to fold you into their changing dynamic. They may intrude on your space too much, or seem less than happy with you… give them the gift of patience as they struggle through to a satisfying new paradigm.

Talk to them! Be gentle, not rejecting. Let them know you’re both trying to figure it out, that you value them, that you need more time together to forge this new family into something satisfying and right.

(more on this later)

  • Emotions: Change of any kind wrecks havoc with moods, feelings, reactions, energy. That’s normal, plan for it. What you want is to learn to recognize that the tension you may be experiencing is not the other’s fault. It is just part of life— the underside of change. And you want to allow each other the luxury of not being “up” and “on” all the time.

Her moodiness does not mean you have failed to make her happy. His crankiness isn’t your fault.

Learning to stay emotionally connected and yet mood-independent takes time… and patience. 

  • Communication: This is a challenging one. There is the whole male/female language barrier, as well as completely different family approaches to solving conflict. Add two different personalities, throw in various but not always the same values, and you’ve got some learning to do. Be patient! This one is going to take a lifetime.

You’re going to blow it. You’ll need to apologize—a lot! That doesn’t mean your relationship is fatally flawed, just that it takes a tremendous amount of time to learn to talk and listen and ask questions and respond well. Give each other a lot of grace in this area. Give each other room to grow, room to grow up.

(lots more on this one later!)

A lot to think about, I know. But do the thinking now while life is fresh and your story just started. So much better than looking back with regret at your own blunderings!

I love you both!

From my heart,


P.S. For those who are reading: Have a good story about any of these areas? Or some practical advice? We’re listening!

And join us on Instagram @hespeaksinthesilence for our #norushnovember challenge as we take some time to slow down and enjoy the little moments this month! 



How To Start Your Story Well

Part I: Coming Home

Dear Ones,

You’re back from your honeymoon, glowing with that newlywed smugness of two people who have shared what no one else ever will— that look that says you’ve a secret you’re bursting to tell. You have no idea how happy your happiness makes me.

These are good days. Rich with discovery, bright with hope for the future. You’ve found each other, loved each other, sorted through the questions, worked through barriers, and now you’re writing history.

What story will you tell? 

Thirty-six years ago, your dad and I were right where you are: just enough money to pay the bills if nothing went wrong, a pretty little place to call home, family and friends in abundance, and a job at a church that demanded time with a voraciousness that left us with no margin.

And we made mistakes. Lots of mistakes. Our first year was one long, heated hurt feeling on my part… and one long, heated frustration on your dad’s. Though to be fully transparent, in between the hurt feelings and frustrations we managed to cram in a whole lot of passionate, life-giving lovemaking.

And maybe that is why I am writing these letters to the two of you. Because I want more for you. I hope you’ll write a better first chapter to your story than we did. I hope you’ll look back on this year and remember the passion with a minimal amount of frustration and hurt feelings.

To my idealistic surprise, being a good person was not enough to have a good marriage. I tried so hard to be good, and so did your dad. But there was so much we didn’t know then, lessons we’ve learned the hard way. Lessons I want to pass on to you. Today I’ll give you just a few.

How To Start Your Story Well:

1.  Take time

For most of us, that first year of marriage is like learning to navigate a new world while blindfolded. We end up bumping into things. And people. And each other.  All those resultant bruises act as attention getting signs to get us to slow down, to proceed cautiously, to pay attention. Once you’ve learned where the sharp edges are, you’ll be able to breeze through most days without so much as a bump.

I wish we had purposed to take our first year slow. To do less. To expect less.

To just be… with each other… alone.

We should have spent more time paying close attention to each other, making room for the differences that rubbed wrong, allowing space to study each other, to know each other.

I think you will struggle with the same. You both love people, have a gazillion friends, have iPhones that won’t quit buzzing, and more plans that any two people could possibly accomplish.

And that’s good, great, healthy. But can you just put it all on hold for a bit? Expect less of yourselves? Expect less of each other? Just for this first year?

Because paying close attention to each other takes time at first. If you’re not careful you’ll misinterpret each other, take things too personally, get your feelings hurt and your nose pushed out of joint. Or you’ll stumble blindly forward, clueless to the damage your heedlessness is inflicting on the one you love more than life itself.

To that end, I have a second piece of advice…

2.  Check in

When we were first married, many of our misunderstandings happened as a result of un-communiction.

We were up late most nights, a requirement of a pastor at a megachurch in the 70’s. Being busy was proof of value— or so we believed. We’d fall into bed too tired to talk, then be up and out the door for work with barely a chance to think, let alone converse.

We saved most of our communication for our one day off together… and ended up arguing our way through that day, knowing we’d have no time to resolve it during the week, knowing that if we didn’t get the hurt cleaned up now, it would only get worse.

Not exactly a tasty recipe for a healthy relationship.

Out of that failure, we began to see the need for a daily time of connection. Not a long, how are you feeling about life kind of conversation, but just a few moments to go over schedules, know how to pray for each other, look each other in the eye, value each other’s time, and accommodate each other’s reality.

We take each other’s temperatures: Is he stressed about that meeting? Feeling pressured by her to-do list? Should I back off my expectations?

In those few minutes we keep Paul’s advice to his friends in Ephesus in mind:

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,

entreat you to walk in a manner

worthy of the calling with which you have been called,

with all humility and gentleness, with patience,

showing forbearance to one another in love,

being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Ephesians 4:1-3 NASB

I have more to say on this matter of beginning your story well but I think maybe that’s enough to chew on for now.

I hope you will spend some time together this week talking about practical ways to slow down your schedule in order to take the time to know each other, and carve out a time to connect every day so that you’ll work together in this new reality.  It won’t happen by accident. You’ll have to be intentional about starting your story slower and with a greater understanding of each other. But, oh it’s worth it!

I’ll be back next week with part 2 of How To Start Your Story Well.

From my heart,


P.S. For those who are reading:

Have you figured out how to do this? What rhythm is working for you? Your ideas will help strengthen the relationships of others who are trying to get it right.