Part 2 of an interview with Rob Flood, Author of With These Words
With These Words by Rob Flood is Scripture-based marriage book, in which readers will learn that God is for them and on their side as they press toward helpful, biblical communication. In the face of many emotions and obstacles, there is a clear purpose and a clear method for words.
Every couple knows they need to talk with each other. Every couple knows they need to pay attention to how they can communicate better. Flood not only explores why couples should grow in communication, but it addresses the “how” of communication.
“Whether you have a wonderful marriage or are experiencing troubles, we all can agree that healthy communication is a fundamental part of a strong relationship between a husband and wife,” Flood writes. “This book exists to equip as many people as possible with some helpful tools for communication. These tools can help each husband and wife grow more competent and effective in their use of the powerful gift of words—not for their own glory, but for the glory of God.”
Q: What is the single biggest thing we need to understand and remember about how and what we communicate?
God has designed words with a specific purpose. We are not free to hijack words for our own purposes. If we all can learn that one fact, our propensity to sin with our words will be constrained by the will and Word of God. However, if we reject this, commandeering words for our purposes, there are no boundaries for our propensity to sin. The majority of With These Words is designed to equip you to use words in keeping with their original design.
When couples sit with me in counseling, they often struggle with communication. I can share with them certain techniques that will help them in the long run. However, techniques alone will never solve the problem. We have return to the reality that words belong to God, and he gets to direct them as he sees fit. The tools can help, but conviction and discipleship are needed for the real problems to be addressed.
Q: Is With These Words only for marriages in trouble or applicable to all relationships? Do you feel some marriages are beyond being able to be helped by your book?
I firmly believe that With These Words is a useful resource for couples in any stage of life or state of being. The application for couples struggling in communication is quite obvious. For couples who seem to be thriving, a book like this will be warmly received and will equip them for the likely time when strain is put on their communication. Remember, that describes my own marriage. There was a stretch when our communication was thriving. Then, when life got busier and fuller, strain was put on us. It was these tools that helped us get grounded again.
I’d go further and say that With These Words is useful in parenting relationships, sibling relationships, and beyond. Of course, applications of physical touch will differ. I recall the first parenting book I ever read, Shepherding a Child’s Heart. We didn’t have kids, so I had no immediate application. Yet, the principles found in the book shaped me as a man, as a husband, and as a disciple. Then, when we had children, I was already stronger in some of those principles, ready to benefit from a reread. The same is true with communication.
There is on caveat I’d make here, and I make it a number of times in the book. This book is not intended to be applied in actively abusive situations. If abuse is actively occurring, that is not the time nor the context to work on communication skills. That is the time to get to safety, inform the authorities, and receive care from your pastors. It may be that the principles found in this book could be helpful in future conversations or in reconciliation. I would not want someone staying in a dangerous situation while working on these communication tools.
Q: Why should we be a first responder? Doesn’t being the first to respond put us on the defensive?
If someone initiates a conversation with you, you are a first responder regardless of whether you want to be or not. You will respond in some way. The point of the tool is not to assign you as a first responder, that’s a given. The point of the tool is that the first responder has a lot of power. He or she can influence the direction of the rest of the conversation, the rest of the night, or at times the rest of a relationship.
Of course, you could be a first responder who is defensive. But there are so many other, God-glorifying options available that resonate more closely with the heart of God.
Q: Explain your analogy of how prayer in marriage is like the veggie tray at the Super Bowl Party. How can couples work towards using prayer better in their relationships?
The analogy simply highlights the fact that prayer is always available and nourishing, but rarely chosen. Especially if there are wings and chips to choose from. The analogy leads to an envisioning section, where I call couples to see the benefit of prayer and encourage them to work through whatever is distasteful or awkward to them and press through to the blessing that God has for them.
How can couples work towards using prayer better? There truly is no other way than to pray. If you want to grow in prayer, you must pray. If you want the benefit that God promises through intimacy with him, you must pray. You may ask, “Rob, what if my wife and I are uncomfortable praying together?” My answer would be this: pray together. Pray separately, of course, but pray together as well.
Q: Many times, couples think of physical touch as the opposite of communication. Where are they missing the mark in that way of thinking?
Communication is far more than the exchange of words. It is certainly not less than that, but it is more than that for sure. Communication is tone and timing and intent and body language. A tender, safe touch tells a spouse that you are loved and accepted, that you are in this for them, and the two of you are in this together. Regardless of the topic of the actual conversation (money, sex, parenting, etc.), physical touch allows a nourishing and safe conversation to happen beneath it all.
And, when physical touch stops and a couple moves apart, the silent conversation just declared that it is going sideways and is in trouble. Far from being the opposite of communication, physical touch is very often an undauntingly honest form of communication.
Q: Tell us more about the importance of proper timing when it comes to talking with your spouse.
This is a tool that nearly all of us practice regularly and already buy into. Let’s say we planned to go into work to ask for a raise and our boss arrives late and seems agitated. We know that’s not the day to ask for the raise. It’s not the right time. As we walk through a reception line at a funeral, we know what that occasion calls for and what other, legitimate, honest, and truthful things do not belong in that moment.
Yet, I have found that many spouses, even otherwise wonderful communicators, suspend this tool when they get home. But home is perhaps the most important place to apply it. If the children are acting up, that’s not the time to introduce a controversial topic. If you’re involved in marital intimacy, that’s not the right time to discuss finances. It’s not revolutionary. I’m simply asking coupled to extend to their spouses the same kind of consideration that they likely afford most of the other people in their lives.
Q: What is the ultimate remedy for brokenness in marriage?
Depending upon the state of a marriage, there can be a wide variety of secondary remedies for brokenness in marriage: different books, marriage counseling, reprioritizing of life. However, the ultimate remedy for brokenness in marriage is for the husband and the wife both to follow the same Lord and Savior.
That means that the husband seeks to be a husband for the glory of God. The wife seeks to be a wife for the glory of God. As each pursues this simple call to discipleship, they will find that their marriage immediately experiences greater unity and oneness. If a husband is in the habit of speaking in sin, he must seek to speak for the audience of Christ, looking to please God with every syllable. If a wife is in the habit of controlling her husband with her words, she must seek to be a bride for the audience of Christ, looking to please God with every action.
Functionally, that will look different for each couple. But principally, it is the same. Each Christian marriage should seek to honor and follow Christ more and more. Brokenness will fade or at least come to the surface to deal with in the many ways and others that we addressed. And Christ will be honored in the church through the marriages we find there.
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
About the author
Rob Flood serves as a Community and Care Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA where his responsibilities include Marriage Ministry and Counseling. Prior to joining Covenant Fellowship in 2006, he served with FamilyLife (a division of Cru) in Little Rock, AR. There, he served on their content team as a writer and a project manager. With These Words is his first book.
Though current responsibilities don’t allow him to utilize his vocal or composition training, it was during his pursuit of his Bachelors of Music at Rowan University that Flood met his wife, Gina, who was in the theater program. He later completed his Masters of Arts in Religion from Cairn University School of Divinity.
The Floods have six children who provide an array of excitement to the home by bringing their varied giftings and personalities. As a family, they have been introduced to a world of joy and miracles through their youngest daughter who was born with Down Syndrome.
Together, Rob and Gina enjoy caring for marriages of all ages, opening the Word of God, and spending time with family and friends.