Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash
Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash

Using Christ’s Communication Method to Impact a Marriage

I was the latest and best new Driver when a fairly new golfer bought me. Right away we were a special team. With me he hit the ball farther and straighter.

My golfer told everyone how special I was and how he had never played better because of me. He took me into the clubhouse after a round and continued to sing my praises. When we got home, he polished and shined me and took me into his room between uses instead of leaving me in the garage with his other clubs. I felt so special and pampered. I tried to help turn through the shot and climb high on the backswing and follow through.

Occasionally, we hit a ball into the water or the rough, but we won many tournaments and he won lots of money with me. Sometimes I could feel his grip tighten or we swung too fast and we mishit a ball. On those occasions, he would sometimes become very emotional and blamed me, but then he cheered up, regained his balance and we continued winning.

We began playing more and more and his grip steadily tightened and he swung harder. We hit balls in all sorts of bad places. My golfer became progressively more frustrated and angry and blamed me every time. He would throw me angrily into the bag without my cover. Once he even threw me into the lake only to come get me. I tried to follow his swing; but the line and tempo was off. I couldn’t turn through the shot, as before.

His anger grew and he quit taking me into the clubhouse after a round or into his room at night. He even told everyone that he didn’t know why he had bought me and that he had never hit well with me. I was so insulted and hurt.

Several people suggested lessons with the “pro,” but my golfer refused, saying that there was nothing wrong with his swing. He said the faults were the crowding of the course, the weather, his headache, the noise made by the other golfers, and the cursed club—that I was too long, too stiff, too light, weighted incorrectly, and so on.

Finally, one day he exploded after a bad shot and threw me down on the ground after hitting the cart with me. He was so angry! When we got home, he threw me into the corner of the garage. Thank goodness I had my cover on.

I didn’t go onto the course anymore. The new clubs he bought to replace me soon joined me in the corner of the garage, saying that his grip was too tight for them, also, and that he swung too fast.

One day, I was put back in his bag and taken to the golf professional for lessons. A swing flaw was corrected here and there. Some of my dints were fixed and I was regripped and polished. Neither partner was changed, but rather, both were updated. Soon we were hitting the ball far and straight, just like before. We began winning again and were the envy of the other players.

This was an “emotional word picture” we received, written by a woman whose husband had walked out of their marriage. What makes this letter amazing is not only that the relationship was restored, but it’s also the manner in which she communicated her emotions. This wife learned one of the greatest truths in life: One picture is worth a thousand words.

Do you ever find yourself trying to express something important and your mate, friend, or boss didn’t seem to get it? Or, have you ever said something from your soul, only to have it fall on deaf ears? It’s almost like you’re speaking a different language! In a family environment, does it feel like “Womanese” and “Manese” is spoken? In roughly 80% of all homes, men primarily relate to their wives using what we call a language of the head while women tend to speak a language of the heart. Typically, men tend to be logical, factual, and detail-oriented. On the other hand, women love to share thoughts, feelings, goals, and dreams. As a result of these two differences, many women fail to keep in mind that their husbands genuinely may not see or understand the concerns that they’re sharing. In many cases, they simply don’t speak the same language!

Getting angry and frustrated with a man to “motivate” him to a deeper level of understanding rarely works. Instead, why don’t we employ the most powerful communication tool we know of in the Scriptures to help our mate deeply understand what we are feeling or needing. We call this tool: Emotional Word Pictures. Christ taught every truth in the Bible through parables, which are emotional word pictures.

Specifically, an emotional word picture is a communication device, like a lever, that engages and stimulates a person’s emotions and intellect simultaneously. In activating both senses at the same time, the emotional word picture causes us to both hear and experience another’s words. Word pictures, no doubt, are a powerful way to take our words right to other people’s hearts. But also, word pictures can help others to instantly understand you.


As you utilize this powerful communication method, the first step is to carefully study the other person's interests. This can be done by thinking about the person’s job, hobbies, favorite foods, books, movies, TV show, song, or a favorite activity to name a few. This is a very crucial step. Unless you create a word picture around the person’s interests, he will not connect or bond with your words. In other words, your word picture will have no impact.

After you’ve determined the person’s interests, then you can create your word picture using things from nature (e.g., flowers, trees, clouds, rivers), everyday objects (e.g., cars, diamonds, computers, golf), imaginary stories (e.g., anything that you make-up), or past experiences and remembrances.

Remember that “practice makes perfect,” so rehearse your word picture. If you put in the time and effort to make the word picture meaningful, then there is no limit to its effectiveness.

When you’re ready to share you emotional word picture, be sure to pick a convenient time without distractions. The worst thing that can happen is to share your meaningful word picture at inappropriate times. For example, right before you walk out the door, when someone is already late for an appointment, when the kids are present, or late at night. These times will take away from the effectiveness of your words. So, choose a time that will allow the least amount of distractions.

Finally, remain persistent! The old adage that says, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” is very helpful when trying to convey your deep feelings or needs through a word picture. Sometimes the person will not understand its meaning or something will happen that takes away from its effectiveness. If this happens, do not simply give up. Instead, choose another word picture, time, place, or delivery.

Time and again, we’ve seen frustrated, tense relationships transformed as committed couples used word pictures. This change in their lives didn’t happen by magic, and the deep-seated problems didn’t vanish instantly. To resolve problems, a couple must consistently work on them and rely on God’s strength for daily endurance. But word pictures can and do bring change, particularly as people discover this powerful pattern of “picture talk” unfold in the Scriptures. At first, you may feel awkward and discouraged when you try to use a word picture. Each step may seem tedious. But keep at it! You’ll get the hang of it quicker than you think. Soon, you’ll be a master at using them.


Note: This article was adapted from The Language of Love book, by Gary Smalley & Dr. John Trent.

Greg Smalley, PsyD
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Dr. Smalley previously served as the director of Marriage Ministries for The Center for Healthy Relationships. He is the author or co-author of twelve books concerning marriages and families, and currently serves as the executive director of Marriage and Family Formation at Focus on the Family.

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