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Part 1 of an interview with Rob Flood, Author of With These Words
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Part 1 of an interview with Rob Flood, Author of With These Words

07 Mar Posted by in Interviews | Comments Off on Part 1 of an interview with Rob Flood, Author of With These Words
Part 1 of an interview with Rob Flood, Author of With These Words

Every couple knows they need to talk with each other. Every couple also knows they could work on their communication skills in order to grow in their marriage, but where’s the best place to start? In With These Words: Five Communication Tools for Marriage and Life, pastor and author Rob Flood not only explores why couples should grow in communication, but it addresses the “how” of communicating well.

In this Scripture-based marriage book, readers will learn that God is for them and wants the best for their marriage as they press toward helpful, Christ-honoring communication. As he encourages the reader toward biblically-rooted heart change, Flood also shares how it is possible for each person to retain their unique personality, remaining as God made them while honoring him with their words. These same principles can be applied to all personal relationships, not just marriages.

Q: You open With These Words by telling the story of your honeymoon and a very hard first year as newlyweds. What exactly went so wrong that you and your wife had the biggest fight of marriage just six days in?

We struggled with impurity prior to our marriage. Actually, we went a good period of time functioning without conviction in this area. Our relationship was going quite well. Eventually, the Lord convicted us, and we committed to walk in obedience, protecting our purity. By his grace, we were able to do so until the wedding.

On the honeymoon, when intimacy was now permissible, all of the unprocessed guilt and conviction poured in, making our relationship awkward and tense. This quickly turned into blaming and finger-pointing. This is all so clear to us now. However, it was not so back then. We couldn’t even have told you the main problem was our sin prior to our marriage. We found ourselves in a war, not really knowing what we were fighting for, but committed to winning.

Q: Twenty-plus years down the road, would you say that you and your wife have communication figured out now?

Absolutely not. We are continually learning and reapplying the truths of this book. The truth is that communication really differs based upon situations you walk through. There was a time when I might have said we had it figured out. Then, as the children became teenagers and life became much busier, we were confronted with the fact that we most certainly do not have communication figured out. In fact, I’d caution against that as a goal.

It is a far better and more attainable goal to equip yourself with tools for communication so you can figure out it together, freshly and in faith. That’s why the book is written the way it’s written.

Now, I would say that communication is a strength in our marriage. However, that’s because we both understand that it’s not something you figure out and then you’re done with it. We know it’s something we can never take for granted. With the tools, however, we never have to start at square one again.

Q: What are the four key principles that need to shape our words?

I present four key principles in the opening chapter of the book. They are all derived from the Scriptures and apply to our communication in each and every relationship we have.

First, we should speak so people encounter God. This is the responsibility of the speaker. Are the words we use in keeping with the commands of God, with the heart of God, and with the purposes of God? If they are, then we are free to speak. Even if the message we have to share is one of correction or adjustment, it may be the will of God to share that. And if folks are offended by them, allow them to be offended by God’s purposes, not by the careless or harsh way we spoke. When that happens, they are encountering us, not God.

The next three all flow from Ephesians 4:29 (ESV), “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

We should build up with our words and not tear down. Even godly correction is designed to build up, even if it means tearing down sin or strongholds in the lives of others. If what we have to say is intended to tear down, then we must choose not to say it if we are going to honor God with our speech. If you’re not sure, it is best to be quick to listen and SLOW to speak.

We should also speak in a way that fits the occasion. Every moment has an occasion. There is a good time for something to be said and a bad time for it to be said. Some moments need some forms of speech and need to be protected from other forms. Even if what you say is correct or truthful, it may be the wrong occasion to say it.

Finally, we should give grace to others through our words. This is end of Ephesians 4:29 and applies far beyond marriage. It applies in parenting, in walking with extended family, in conversation with co-workers, church members, and neighbors. This is in keeping with the heart of God for words.

Q: What are some of the communication don’ts that couples commit far too often?

First of all, they miss the fact that words belong to God. Either they miss it or don’t care, each of which is its own problem. Words are very hard to take back. Once they’re heard, they cannot be unheard. So, it falls on the speaker to carry the burden of aligning his words and his heart with God.

There are more don’ts, of course. Very often, couples don’t listen when their spouse is talking. They are simply readying their next volley of missiles. They don’t restrict themselves to kindness in their speech. They don’t prioritize oneness or marital unity above the many other things they might be fighting about.

Of course, all of these fit under a great big communication don’t: such couples don’t fear the Lord. God himself has given the husband to the wife and the wife to the husband. That in and of itself calls us to cherish this person, dearly loved by God, and gifted to us in his perfect love and wisdom. Yet, when couples attack one another and turn on one another, they clearly have forgotten their testimony and their savior.

Q: How is the book divided? What steps does the reader progress through?

In the introduction, the reader will learn that I am not a guy who has this all figured out or a guy who has never struggled as they struggle. They should learn that I’ve not only been in their shoes, but in many cases, am currently in their shoes. I’ve just learned some things that many others have found helpful.

Section One lays a biblical foundation for how to understand and use words. It is crucial that the reader study and learn these lessons. Section 1 provides the meat and the structure for the tools to happen.

Section Two covers the five tools. It is by far the most practical section of the book, but it shouldn’t be separated from the first section. It actually applies the first section in accessible and useful ways.

Section Three is aimed at helping couples who start applying the tools. The tools will take time to master and there will be stumbles, hiccups, and failures. Themes of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and patience are covered in this section, and will be much needed for all marriages.

The last step the reader will take is found in the Epilogue. It asks the question of “Now what?” and provides a vow or an oath of sorts. The thrust of the book is captured in that vow and can be revisited over and over again to underscore the journey they were on while reading the book.

Q: Can you briefly tell us about the five tools of communication?

We begin with the tool of first response. It says that the direction of a conversation is dictated by the person who responds first, not who initiates. I follow the communication of Christ here, where the direction of conversations, even with those of those most opposed to him, always went in the direction he desired. It demonstrates that a harsh word or a careless and hurtful thing that is said does not necessitate a nasty response. It does not consign you to an evening of conflict. There is a way to respond that overlooks and diffuses.

Next is the tool of prayer. Here, I don’t have in mind the daily discipline of prayer, though I’m for that, of course. I mean praying throughout communication, before what you know will be a challenging conversation, and praying together if the conversation starts deteriorating. We too easily forget that God cares about our words and our marriages. He desires to help you honor him if you will simply humble yourself and ask for his help.

Third is the tool of physical touch. Here, I assert that it is very difficult to be in conflict with a person you are tenderly touching. So, if you are holding hands tenderly, that is a good sign. If you are holding hands and the temperature of your conversation starts to increase, you will instinctively shift your body or reposition yourself, letting go of your spouse’s hand. That is a warning sign that things are going in the wrong direction.

Then we look at the tool of mirroring. This is designed to make sure understanding and comprehension is happening. It is the act of stating in your own words what you believe your spouse is saying. Then comes the really hard part: Your spouse gets to say if you’ve understood properly or not. If your husband says, “That’s not what I meant.” You can’t say, “Yes you did!” When this tool is working, many misunderstandings are avoided.

The last tool is proper timing. Again, flowing right out of Ephesians 4:29, this tool asserts that it falls to the speaker to discern the need of a moment. Even good and true things can be harmful if they are spoken at the wrong time or in the wrong manner. There is a proper time for a statement that’s true, but it’s not always the proper time.

With These Words: Five Communication Tools for Marriage and Life
By Rob Flood
February 3, 2020 / Retail Price: $17.99
Print ISBN: 978-1-64507-042-9
RELIGION/Christian Life/Love & Marriage

 

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