Author: Dr. Stephanie Holmes
Communication is the lifeblood of any successful marriage, and when it comes to a neurodiverse marriage, it takes on an even greater significance. Neurodiversity refers to the natural variation in neurological functioning, including conditions such as autism, ADHD, or other cognitive differences. In a Christian marriage, it's crucial to approach communication with understanding, empathy, and a willingness to adapt. Here are three essential tips for Christian couples navigating communication in a neurodiverse marriage. As a Christian Neurodiverse couple, we have a higher calling to watch our words and guard our tongue:
Proverbs 21:23 "Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles."
Before some tips let's reflect on the importance of Taming the Tongue from James 3:2-6.
“2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”
So with that foundation, each person taming his/her tongue is the foundation for communication in NeuroDiverse Christian marriage.
Cultivate a Foundation of Patience and Understanding:
Patience and understanding form the bedrock of any successful relationship, and they are especially vital in a neurodiverse marriage. Embrace the unique qualities of your partner and their neurodivergent perspective. Recognize that differences in communication styles, sensory sensitivities, or social cues may exist, but they should not be viewed as obstacles. Instead, view them as opportunities to grow in patience and understanding. Take the time to listen actively, ask clarifying questions, and practice empathy to foster a deeper connection with your spouse.
Tailor Communication Styles to Individual Needs:
Effective communication requires flexibility and adaptability. In a neurodiverse marriage, it's important to recognize that what works for one person may not work for the other. Each partner may have different preferences and needs when it comes to communication styles. Take the time to explore and understand your partner's communication style, and be open to adjusting your own approach accordingly.
For example, if one partner finds it challenging to process verbal information, incorporating visual aids, written instructions, or even utilizing technology like communication apps or assistive devices can be incredibly helpful. Additionally, setting aside specific times for open, structured conversations can provide a comfortable and predictable space for sharing thoughts and concerns. Remember, communication is a two-way street, and both partners should be actively engaged in finding common ground and adapting their styles to foster effective communication. If you are struggling to come up with adaptive strategies, find a Neurdiverse trained coach or counselor to help you.
Establish Rituals of Connection and Emotional Check-Ins:
In any marriage, nurturing emotional connection is crucial. In a neurodiverse marriage, intentional rituals of connection and emotional check-ins become even more essential. Create routines or rituals that allow you and your partner to connect on a deeper emotional level regularly. These can include activities such as daily devotionals, prayer, or shared hobbies. Such rituals provide stability and help build trust and understanding between partners. You may each define connection differently. It is important for each of you to discuss what connection means to you and seek to fulfill that for each other . Healthy marriages are reciprocal, not one-sided.
Additionally, schedule regular emotional check-ins to discuss any challenges, concerns, or triumphs that either partner may be experiencing. Create a safe space where both partners can express their feelings openly and without judgment. Use active listening techniques, such as reflecting back what you hear, to ensure understanding and validate each other's emotions. These check-ins can strengthen the emotional bond between partners and provide an avenue for addressing and resolving conflicts effectively.
Navigating communication in a neurodiverse marriage requires intentionality, understanding, and adaptability. By cultivating a foundation of patience and understanding, tailoring communication styles to individual needs, and establishing rituals of connection and emotional check-ins, Christian couples can strengthen their bond and build a thriving relationship. Remember that love, empathy, and a willingness to embrace neurodiversity can create a marriage that thrives despite any challenges it may face.
We want to encourage you to join the Emotionally Healthy Relationships (EHR) Course, which we hope to have offered each fall and spring.
Check out the Group Coaching tab to see when EHR may be resuming. It is a free course done with trained coaches while meeting other Christian ND couples!
Dr. Stephanie and Rev. Dan highly recommend this course for small groups, couples' work. By growing in community and accountability you will be less alone and be encouraged by the challenges and successes of other NeuroDiverse Christian Couples (NDCCs) like you!