How to Have a Difficult Conversation in a Christian Marriage

What are the difficult things in your life?  Do you struggle to have effective conversations with your spouse about difficult things?  My husband hates having hard conversations.  He will clean out the gutters to avoid a serious talk.  If he feels cornered, unprepared, caught off guards about a hard issue in conversation he will shut down, walk away or pick a fight the things he can win.  Can you relate?  How do you have a difficult conversation with your spouse?

Today we will pull together several of our marriage communication exercises to prepare for the hard conversation topics that come.  Oh how I wish I could say that these communication exercises will help you avoid difficult marriage conversations, but life happens.  Finances get tight, loved ones get sick, one or both of us mess up, the kids misbehave.  Life happens.

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You have to talk about the Hard Parts of life.  Ignoring them only leads to marriage trouble later

When we ignore the difficult parts of life and our marriage issues, bitterness and resentment build up.  Those things rob us of our joy, steal our voice and fester until they destroy everything we love.  We know the importance of effective communication in marriage.  The key is to know how to start those difficult conversations.

Matthew 18:15 If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.

Difficult things happen in life and we need to have serious conversations about what to do about them

Difficult things happen in life and we need to have serious conversations about what to do about them Click To Tweet


On top of the general difficulties that happen in all our lives, we are two sinful humans living in close quarters with each other.  How do you start a hard conversation when sin is involved?  It is commonplace to deal with gambling, lying, pornography, infidelity, abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction, and so many other difficult situations in a Christian Marriage.

Today we will see how to talk to your husband about problems without fighting.  Just because you need to have a difficult conversation does not mean you are destined to an unhappy marriage.

Ignoring the Issue is the Last Barrier to Effective Communication in Marriage

Are there difficult things in your Marriage today?

There are difficult things in our life right now.

  • I am sick (recently diagnosed with an autoimmune disease),
  • My youngest has special needs,
  • Finances are always a mess,
  • Our house needs repairs and neither of us knows how to fix things
  • My husband struggles to keep a job

When difficult things come into our life it adds stress to the marriage.  It is so important to have open communication about the hard parts of life to maintain a successful marriage.  As important as it is, it can also be difficult.

Difficulties in life cause emotions to rise, tempt me to use those toxic words, and my husband shuts down.  It’s not productive to have a one-sided conversation about hard things.  Can you relate?

How do you start a difficult conversation with your spouse?

That is the question, isn’t it?  I know it’s where we want to start, but really we have to take a big step back before we ever open our mouth.  Remember that mouth?  The mouth that causes trouble for your marriage?  Let’s get her under control first.

Before I ever begin a deep conversation with my husband I go through a series of pre-conversation steps:

  1. What is my part in this?
  2. Is this about something in him I need to accept?
  3. Are my thoughts negative about this issue?
  4. Am I taking control of my negative thinking?
  5. How much have I prayed about this?

I bet you wondered why we spent so much time in this workshop dealing with heart issues before we shifted to words.  Seems strange for a Communication workshop to focus half its time on the heart.  But listen, if your heart is not right about this difficult issue your husband will know.  It’s like my husband is a bloodhound and my insincere, self-righteous attitude is his specialized sent.  Can you relate?  He can spot the fake in me and see my accusations as no one else can.  When I come into a hard conversation with a mess in my heart my husband will shut down.

We want a good conversation about this difficult issue right?  It starts with your heart

So Girl, get your heart in check before you ever open your mouth.  Let’s say you know your part (have dealt with God over it and are clean) you are accepting your husband as he is, you are intentionally getting your thoughts straight and you have prayed this thing out.  Now what?

How to Have a Difficult Conversation in a Christian Marriage This is session Nine in the marriage communication workshop where couples will learn marriage communication tips be guided through communication exercise, given tools to help with better communication. Wives will learn to improve intimacy while keeping their voice and stop feeling like a door mat in marriage. Improve communication in marriage tips

Cushion the difficult issue with Admiration and Femininity

We talked about using your feminine side to stir the chivalry in your man.  This is a great time to use those communication skills.

In business, you learn to cushion the blow of a bad performance review.  Before I left corporate America to raise my kids I was a Manager of a Customer Service Department.  There were times I had to correct an employee and really address some difficult behavior issues.  The idea is to caution the blow so the employee doesn’t go psycho and react with violence… we live in a crazy world Y’all.

So you give two good things for every bad thing.

Mr. Jones you have an excellent review rate.  I noticed your call times are well over our three minute limit, but your receive high praise from our customers.  What can we do to help lower the over all call time?

Do you see it?  The call time is the issue, but he does well at other parts of his job.  Related parts.  It cushions the blow and helps keep him in the mind of resolving the situation well.

How do you cushion the blow of a hard issue with your spouse?

Remember we want to stir him to not only finish the whole conversation but participate in it.  You want your husband to contribute to the conversation, own the issue, see that you value his input and action.

Let’s say the marriage problem is pornography.

Statistics show that “68 percent of church-going men regularly search for porn…” Read more about that here.

Pornography use has been an issue in my marriage both by my husband and myself so it is something that has been a difficult conversation and continues to come up.

Failed attempts at talking about pornography sounded like this.

I see you’ve cleared the search history.  You always do that when you’ve been looking at porn.  This is why you never want to have sex with me, you’re getting all you need from the screen.  You should be over this by now.  We’ve dealt with it, talked about it, gone to couples counseling over it.

Those were conversations started at the height of emotion without spending time with God in prayer about it.  Can I overemphasize the need to spend lots of time in prayer before the difficult conversation?

Can I overemphasize the need to spend lots of time in prayer before the difficult conversation? Click To Tweet

Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

A difficult conversation about pornography take two:

Before we talk, I noticed the browsing history has been cleared and our adult content password has been changed.  My mind immediately jumps to the conclusion my husband has been searching for porn.  This is a difficult situation and a sin I know he still struggles with.

  • I spend time with God throughout that day asking Him to keep my eyes fixed on HIm.

    • The sin of pornography is not about me, I don’t have a part in it per se.  This sin is about something in my husband.  But I still have a part in a different way.
      • I have some unforgiveness that needs to be dealt with so I take it to God.
      • There is wrestling with self-righteousness.
        • I’ve overcome this sin why can’t he?
        • He must not be trying hard enough.
        • Somehow I feel better than him for having moved past this while he is still wrestling.
  • Am I accepting my husband as he is right now?

    • I remind myself my husband isn’t perfect.  He has sin just like I do.  We struggle with different sin but it is all sin to God.
  • Are my thoughts negative about this?

    • I still struggle to think his addiction is about my sexual abilities or about me being overweight.
    • This sin brings up lots of negative thoughts about him and myself.
  • Have I replaced negative thoughts with things from the Philippians 4:8 test?

    • It takes time and practice to replace every negative through – especially the emotional thoughts.  I have to replace them with the truth.  God’s truth.
  • Where do I need to add scripture to my prayer strategy about this area in my husband’s life that I can not accept?

    • I add some verses about God defending me, going ahead of me, guarding me and softening my husband’s heart for the hard conversation.

Preparing the setting for the difficult conversation

I want the conversation to happen as smoothly as possible so I prepare ahead of time.  The conversation will go better if he’s had time to unwind after work, the house is quiet, and the mood is calm.

It’s important that a difficult conversation happen where there will be no interruptions. You may have to send the kids to grandma’s house.

Then, when it seems like a calm uninterrupted time, you can begin the conversation.

Bud, I see you as a good man and I know you would never do anything intentionally to hurt me or our family.  In the past, we’ve had issues with pornography and I want to ask you about it now.  When I sat at the computer this morning and saw that the browsing history was deleted it made me feel very uneasy.  I know pornography is an area you have been working to change and I’m so proud of how hard you work on it.  Did something happen last night that we should talk about?

The difference was like night and day.  There was no judgment from me, just facts and my feelings about those facts.  I didn’t accuse I asked.  He responded with confession and raw emotion.  We talked about ways we could pray, people we should talk to and strategies for making it less easy to access this area of sin.

The reality is, my husband will sin. His sin is between him and God. It’s hard to accept his sin – especially when it affects me. Hard but not impossible.

The reality is, my husband will sin. His sin is between him and God. It's hard to accept his sin - especially when it affects me. Hard but not impossible. Click To Tweet

There are some difficult conversations that will end badly.  Don’t be afraid to seek Christian Marriage counseling.  Talk to your pastor about the real issues.  Do you know most Christians turn to Google before they ever step foot in a Church office for help?  I mean there is a lot to be said for online marriage counseling. Obviously, I write for that reason, but there are many issues that require face to face guidance.

There are also some difficult conversations that need to end with firm boundaries.  Separation.  Counseling.  Those seem like scary things, marriage-ending things.  But ladies, if abuse is involved or addiction, boundaries are necessary to protect yourself and your family.  A Christian Marriage Counselor can help you navigate that rocky territory and come out with a successful marriage on the other side!

Be sure to watch today’s video for more examples of cushioning the blow of difficult conversations.

In conclusion – We can pull from all the Communication skills we’ve been practicing to have a difficult conversation that will improve Communication in Marriage

Today we saw many great marriage communication tools to help you have difficult conversations that will bring healing and fix a marriage.  It is key to remember who the real enemy is and determine not to speak words of death as we fight a very real battle for our Marriage!  When we incorporate prayer, respect and I statements we can harness these powerful communication exercises to diffuse tension and save a marriage.

If this is an area you are working to improve in your marriage be sure to join the Marriage Communication Workshop, download the effective communication in Marriage PDF workbook that is filled with even more Marriage Communication exercises!

.Marriage Communication Class Online, marriage communication workshop, marriage communication exercises to improve communication #MarriageCommunication #MarriageAdvice Christian Marriage advice, Marriage advice, #hopejoyinchrist




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Tiffany Montgomery

Tiffany of Hope Joy in Christ inspires Christian Women to grow in faith, live out Biblical Marriage Principles and raise Godly Children.  Join the Wives Only Facebook Group here or keep up with her through Pinterest.

24 thoughts to “How to Have a Difficult Conversation in a Christian Marriage”

  1. I know this had to be a hard post to write. It’s such a painful and hard topic, but I love how you approached it.

  2. Difficult conversations has been a growth area for me. God has been helping me to take the first step of opening the conversation up. I tend to want to avoid talking about hard things but I have learned over the years it isn’t healthy. Thanks for your words of wisdom.

    1. I hear you. I used to just hope and pray the problems would magically go away. Sometimes GOd would work to resolve things but somethings it took a hard conversation to open up the topic for healing for us both.

  3. Such great advice and so many great ideas. Marriage can be really hard and a lot of work. I love the suggestions you gave to make those tough conversations take a better turn.

  4. I have enjoyed this series on marriage and your heart for this topic. These posts are something that I have saved and will refer back to as needed. Thank you.

  5. Communication I think is one of the most difficult parts in marriage, especially when you have kids and are all trying to be your own people. Definitely better to communicate, though, then to let everything build up and shut down!

  6. So important to have conversations for growth. You bring up such good points here. Applies to most households, I’m sure.

  7. I commend you for being able to talk about this very difficult, very real, issue in marriage. Again, we all sin- and have sin- and no sin is “better” in God’s eyes. I pray that you both continue to communicate and that this yoke is broken.

  8. So many people choose to avoid those difficult conversations instead. Thanks for sharing!!

  9. Very nice advices, I am sure they would be very useful for those who are married!! I always say to my boyfriend that communication is key!

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