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Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.  (Proverbs 15:4, NLT)

I think I watched a few too many romantic comedies growing up because when I got married, I expected that my husband would be able to read my mind. When something bothered me, we would often have this conversation:

Him: “What’s wrong?”
Me: “Nothing.”
Him: “Are you sure? It seems like something’s wrong.”
Me: “I’m sure. Nothing’s wrong.”
Him: “OK, just checking.”

Then he’d go on his way to do something else, which completely frustrated me because I wanted him to keep asking me what was wrong over and over again so that I’d finally tell him. Can I tell you what that magic number of times was? No, but I know it was definitely more than twice!

It wasn’t until five years later, as we sat together on the couch in the marriage counselor’s office, that I finally realized the problem. “Andrea, don’t you realize that when you tell him nothing is wrong when something is in fact wrong, that you’re lying to him?” the counselor asked. Ouch! Did she just call me a liar? I thought to myself. I didn’t see that coming!

While it wasn’t comfortable in the moment, I am so grateful she called me out that day. It was what I needed to grow personally and in my marriage. Even though I didn’t realize it until then, I had been lying to my husband to avoid conflict. In doing so, I had also avoided vulnerability and connection.

In the 12 years since that day in the counselor’s office, I’ve learned to better communicate with my husband when something bothers me. I realize now that confrontation and conflict are inevitable within a marriage and see them as opportunities for growth.

Author and speaker Michael Hyatt says, “On the other side of conflict is intimacy.” Addressing problems is much better than avoiding or holding them in, which can eventually turn into bitterness and resentment. The more we communicate openly and honestly, the greater the intimacy we can experience with our spouse.

I still occasionally wish my husband could just read my mind, but I now accept and celebrate that only God is capable of such a task. Openly and honestly communicating with our spouse may stretch us and require practice, but it will help our marriages grow and thrive.


Andrea Fortenberry (