Want some relationship advice? Maybe it’s time to be quiet.


Anyone who knows me knows that I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut.  I LOVE to talk.  It’s one of the gifts God has given me.  The unfortunate “flip-side” of that gift is that it sometimes gets me in trouble.  Chances are, you’ve experienced a similar situation.  People have called me in the past saying, “Zakk, how can I get my husband to listen to me.  He doesn’t hear a word I say, and what I’m saying is important!”

Listen.  I UNDERSTAND.  It’s hard, especially for those of us who love to communicate.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to get my point across to my wife… to the point that she’s ready to strangle me.  But I was speaking with a friend once, and he gave me some of the best relationship advice I’ve ever heard:  sit down and be quiet.  To me, this was a foreign concept.  Why in the world would I be quiet?  In fact, the look I gave him was something like this:

Relationship Advice

But here’s the thing: sometimes we need to be quiet to give the other person a chance to process what they’re hearing.  Remember, fellow communicators, sometimes our spouses aren’t as open and willing to share their emotions as soon as they feel them.  Many times, they need time to organize and “file” their thoughts.  Giving them this space will give them time to find the answers the  two of you are looking for, and it also makes the situation less threatening.  In fact, this scripture probably says it best:

“There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven… a time to be silent and a time to speak.”  -Ecclesiastes 3:1,7b

And we must accept that sometimes, the other person just has nothing to say.  Sometimes, the other person’s silence is misinterpreted.  Therapist Suzanne Phillips explains it best:

For example:

Your partner comes home from work, says hi, and then silently goes through the mail.

Worried you ask, “Is everything OK?”

“Fine.” Still worried you ask, “Why are you not talking?”

Now he/she sounds irritated “I don’t feel like talking.”

You move from worry to anger: “I wait for you to come home, and you don’t feel like talking?”

Partner walks into another room.

But, as Phillips shows us, there are other ways of handling the situation better.

Remedy: Undoing this type of vicious cycle takes a mutual effort of trust. Try the following:

  • Drop the Assumptions: Once you ask your partner if he/she is OK and your partner reports “fine,” assume the best, give him/her the space, then proceed as normal, “Do you feel like watching TV?”
  • Pick up the Clarifications: It is invaluable in a relationship, whether you are a very close couple or a couple repairing your bond that you clarify the meaning of your silence. “I’m just dealing with something at work. It’s not about us.” This drops the fear out of the situation and makes it easier for your partner to give you space or more calmly ask, “Can I help?” To which you may want to say, “No” or “Yes.”
  • There is room for options without assumptions. What this does is set up a pattern of mutual respect for separate problem solving on non-couple issues. Usually, when such space becomes part of a couple’s relationship, they don’t have to guard it so fiercely and they may more frequently ask the partner for an opinion.
  • Separate There and Then vs. Here and Now: If you find it very hard not to worry or assume the worst, NO MATTER WHAT YOUR PARTNER CLARIFIES, you might consider if you are mixing your history and the people from your childhood, or earlier relationships, with your present partner. With enough fear, accusation and insistence you can pretty much get the present to replicate the past.

The problem in relationships is that a lot of times, we find issues that just aren’t really there.  We pick fights because the other person doesn’t respond how we want them to.  We get angry because someone said something that hurt our feelings.  And sometimes, we just get mad because tensions get high when you share your life with someone.  And so, we fight, bicker and argue.  How do we stop the cycle?  Paul gives us a great indication:

Finally, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, affectionate, compassionate, and humble. 9 Do not return evil for evil or insult for insult, but instead bless others because you were called to inherit a blessing. -1 Peter 3:8-9

Remember, the best thing you can ever do for your better half is love them the way Jesus calls us to love.

Still struggling?  Check out our free resource, 10 Communication Tips to Improve Your Relationship in Just One Week!

If you’re struggling in your relationship, you don’t have to face it alone.  Schedule an online appointment or office visit below.

Use this trick to make your discussions more effective.

Relationship CounselingWhether you realize it or not, in most relationships and marriages, there are two different kinds of communicators.  More often than not, one of you is the pursuer and one of you is the distancer.  Not knowing these things about yourself and your spouse can make it hard to have an effective conversation if the discussion is serious in nature – and it can make it even more difficult, maybe even impossible, to resolve a disagreement.

Before learning how to solve these issues, we must first learn what and who the pursuer and the distancer are:

PURSUER:  The person who moves “inside the relationship” to solve a problem.  When an issue or problem arises, this person typically wants to jump right in and have a conversation immediately with the other person.  The pursuer wants to fix the problem “right here, right now”.

DISTANCER: The person who moves “outside the relationship” to solve a problem.  This doesn’t mean the person is running off to have an affair because they can’t deal with their problems — it simply means the distancer is looking to find a way to process the issue in a way that’s comfortable to them, such as a hobby, exercising, talking to a trusted friend, etc.  This person doesn’t want to solve the problem immediately like the pursuer does.  They want to take time to “file their thoughts” and figure out a good solution.


So, how do we solve this communication barrier in our relationships?

First, find out if you’re the pursuer or distancer.  It’s not a difficult answer to find.  Just think back on the last few disagreements or serious discussions you’ve had with your spouse.  Did you want to solve it immediately, or did you prefer to take your time to “hash it out” in your head?

Do you find it infuriating when your husband or wife doesn’t want to sit down with you and work out the problem as soon as you realize there is one?  Or do you get aggravated when your better half keeps pressing you for thoughts and solutions you just don’t have?

Sometimes, if people in a marriage or relationship are very similar, they can go back and forth on being the pursuer and distancer, depending on the situation, however it’s not extremely common.  Again, it’s not difficult to find out if this description fits you.

After you’ve identified who’s who in the relationship, the easiest way to solve the issues and problems you face is to table the discussion.  Yes, you read that right.  PUT IT ON PAUSE.  BUT, you must set a time to come back to the discussion to come to a resolution.  This could be a couple hours, a couple days, or whatever time the two of you agree on.  This assures the pursuer that there will be a resolution to the issue at hand, but it gives the distancer the time to sit down, think, and process the information and come back to the table ready with solutions.

Not convinced?  Put this into practice with an issue you’re facing, or the next disagreement you have.  See if both of you feel like you were able to have a more productive conversation with each other.

Continuing to struggle communicating in your relationship?  Remember, it’s okay to ask for help.  Even if you can’t convince your spouse to come with you, relationship counseling can be beneficial to giving you the strength and hope you’re looking for.  Schedule your appointment online here.

10 Communication Tips to Improve Your Relationship in Just One Week!

“The reason you don’t understand me, Edith, is because I am talkin’ to you in English and you’re listenin’ to me in ‘Dingbat’!”

Although blunt (and funny) Archie Bunker, the character in the TV show All in the Family had it right, didn’t he?  Sometimes the things we say and the way they’re heard can be completely different.

Let’s face it, relationships can be hard, but communicating with your significant other shouldn’t have to be.  We’ve prepared a free resource for you so you can better communicate with your better half.

Click here to get your copy of 10 Communication Tips to Improve Your Relationship in Just One Week!.  We’re confident if you put these tips into practice, you’ll be on your way to healthier communication.

Life is short. Have an affair.

Wait, what?  For most people, hearing someone tell you to cheat on your husband or wife would be an absurd and unthinkable suggestion, even if you and your spouse are having problems.  It seems absurd, anyway.  Yet, that’s the slogan for the now infamous Ashley Madison website where, in 2015, thousands of names of users were leaked for everyone to see.  People from government organizations to church leadership positions were exposed for looking at pornography or searching for an extramarital affair.  In a day and age where social media dictates our conversational habits and pornography is easier to find than children’s cartoons, is the statement really that absurd or shocking?

I admit, it is unlikely that most people struggling in their marriage are actively looking for a relationship outside their marriage.  However, most people who do engage in an extramarital relationship say they never intended for it to happen.  They were in a situation where they were discussing their problems with a friend and they became close or someone made them feel a way their spouse didn’t.  Without a strong relationship with your spouse, it’s easy to fall into this situation.

Life is short. Have an affair.

Most people who engage in an extramarital affair say they never intended for it to happen.

What’s worse, there are actually therapists out there who will recommend to their patients and clients that an affair can help them.  They’ll convince clients an affair can help them release frustrations, and in the end, it will bring the person and his or her spouse closer together.  “You can’t be serious,” I’m sure you’re telling me as you read this.  Go ahead.  Google it.  I know you’re curious.  It’s worth clarifying, this is not the standard held by the American Psychological Association or by the majority of therapists.  And, for the record, Revive Counseling Center will never recommend for you to have an affair.  But the belief still exists.  It’s so accepted in our culture that these therapists can’t even tell when they’re blurring a line.

“So, Zakk.  How do we protect our marriage?  You make it sound so easy.”
I’m so glad you asked.

Lean on the Word of God.  In fact, He tells us there is strength found in our marriage relationship:

Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. – Mark 10:9

But He also shows us the importance of forgiving each other:

Be completely humble and gentle; Be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:2-3

There are numerous scriptures and passages that relate to marriage, relationships and forgiveness and grace.  If you’re struggling with one of the areas, consider asking your pastor, church leadership or a trusted Christian mentor about where to start.

There’s also a lot of great advice online when you’re dealing with an issue in your relationship.  In 2005, Becky Zerbe wrote an article that touched the hearts of a lot of people considering leaving their spouse.  The List that Saved My Marriage provides sound advice if you feel like your marriage is failing, because it encourages you to look at your actions as well.

The book Fireproof and the subsequent movie have been encouraging to many couples.

Sometimes, however, resources like these just don’t seem to feel like enough.  Many couples say there’s nothing quite like the sting of learning your spouse has had a relationship outside your marriage.  Some people question how they go on, and some will wonder if it’s even worth continuing in the marriage.  If you find yourself in this situation, the decision to separate or divorce is one that you’ll have to work out with your spouse and within yourself.

Life is short. Have an affair.

Numerous Christian resources are available to couples recovering from an affair, even if it feels like there’s no hope.

However, if you and your spouse want to continue the marriage, there are numerous Christian resources available to you.  Again, speaking to a pastor or a trusted Christian adviser is a great first step.  Marriage Counseling is another great avenue, because a counselor or therapist can help you work through the issues of hurt and anger, while also helping you identify what issues led to the situation in the first place.  Many couples who seek marriage counseling, especially after an affair, find much success and growth in their marriage.

Finally, we must realize that not every marriage can and will be saved.  I’ve heard many people say they feel so abandoned because they couldn’t convince their spouse to stay.  Others may feel as though God no longer loves them because they’re divorced.  The fact is, God loves you no matter what you’ve done wrong or right in your life.  There’s nothing you could do to make him love you less.  He loves you so much, He sent Jesus here to save you from sin, brokenness and death.  And even if you were the only person to have ever walked on the face of the earth, He still would have sent Jesus – just for you.  Look to him as you seek comfort.

If you’re struggling in your marriage or relationship, or if you’re hurting from the grief and pain of an affair or divorce, consider contacting us so that we can work with you through your heartache.  When you’re ready, reach out to us, or make your appointment online.