Mastering Communication in Marriage for Husbands

By Bob Bunn
Manhood Journey

Of all the challenges couples face, communication in marriage might be among the most difficult
to master. In part, that’s because opposites really do attract. You’re wired one way. Your spouse
is wired differently. 

Even in the best situations, you’re going to have differences of opinion, and that’s going to make
effective communication in marriage harder.

Create Communication Playbook

So, understanding that marital communication can be hard is a great first step toward making it
work in your relationship. Thankfully, godly husbands can improve communication in marriage.
You and your wife can work together to get better at talking to one another and resolving issues
that inevitably pop up as you do life together. 

Another significant step is to lay down some personal communication rules for your life. These
are the communication guidelines that you will honor and the boundaries that you will refuse to
cross as a husband. You can share them with your wife and maybe even use them to set some
broader rules you both will follow.

 But ultimately, you can only control your own approach to communication in your marriage. So,
start with you.

5 Tips for Mastering Communication in Marriage

As you consider the nuts and bolts of your communication playbook, keep a couple of things in
mind. First, give it your full attention. That might mean getting away from distractions and
writing things on paper to add a sense of accountability. Do whatever it takes. 

Second, take care of this sooner rather than later. Even if it pushes you out of your comfort zone,
you will be glad that you have these tools in your toolbox the next time you face a
communication challenge in your marriage.

 There is no magic number when it comes to your rules for marriage communication, but, as with
most things, simple usually works better. In the list below, I’ve offered seven ideas for healthy
communication with your wife. These have come through personal experience, and most are still
a work in progress. After all, communication in marriage is a lifelong project.

1. Start small.

You’ve probably been to parties or meetings that included icebreakers to help people get to know
each other better. Well, you can use the same idea to spark better marital communication.

Your conversations with your wife don’t always have to focus on the big stuff. In fact, talking
about the small things in life actually sets the tone for bigger discussions down the road. They
are the mortar that keeps the bricks in place and ensures the wall is secure.

2. Spend time on the big stuff.

Several years ago, I was on vacation with my family at the beach. As we were sitting under our
umbrellas, three young women walked up to my parents and asked for their best advice to ensure
a lasting marriage. Without hesitation, my dad told them to make sure they and their spouses
were on the same page with faith, family, and finances. 

He was absolutely right because those three areas often become the hottest topics for
communication in marriage. They are the big rocks that can shatter a marriage or provide an
immovable foundation. You may want to add other things to your list, but however you define
the “big stuff,” it deserves your full attention as you learn to communicate in marriage.

3. Be OK with space.

As I mentioned earlier, there’s a really good chance that you and your wife approach
communication differently. God has wired each of you in a unique way because you need her to
see things you miss, and she needs you to do the same for her. You complete one another.

So, if you’re struggling to resolve an issue, it’s all right to call a timeout and take a break, as long
as you promise to come back together after you’ve both had a chance to process. This
demonstrates respect and helps keep emotions in check. It also makes your conversations a “safe
space” where thoughtful and honest communication can happen.

4. Don’t just hear. Really listen.

If two people enter a conversation, you can be sure that each of them comes in with preconceived
ideas about how that talk should go and what it should accomplish. Unfortunately, those
expectations can also hinder communication because they keep us from really listening to the
other person.

So, instead of trying to read your spouse’s mind or assuming you know what she’s thinking, truly
listen to her words. If necessary, ask some clarifying questions. Your first tendency is probably
to speak, but good communication means listening well.

5. Avoid “always” and “never.”

For me, this is one of the hardest things in my marriage communication playbook to put into
practice. I lean toward the dramatic, especially in moments of conflict. And I have to bite my
tongue to avoid using blanket statements like “You always do this” or “You never do that.”

These are dangerous little words because they are rarely (if ever) true. No one “always” or
“never” does anything. Yet, they represent easy weapons for accusing, criticizing, or assigning
blame. They rehash the problem, which makes it harder to focus on finding a solution.

6. Be aware of non-verbal communication.

Actions really do speak louder than words, so you’ve got to recognize the power of body
language and other non-verbal cues. Every sincere point you make can be wiped away with a
negative physical cue.

Of course, you can learn a lot from your wife’s non-verbal communication. When you were
dating, you probably studied your wife to learn as much about her as possible. Don’t stop now!
Keep learning about her, including the signals she provides when the two of you talk.
Understanding what she’s saying beyond her words can pay big dividends in marital

7. Don’t be afraid to get help.

Let me be very clear about this. You should never let fear, shame, or guilt keep you from seeing
a professional counselor. Somewhere along the way, we’ve got the idea that seeing a therapist
means we’ve failed or that we’re admitting defeat. Actually, nothing could be further from the

If you and your wife are struggling with communication in marriage, talking to a professional
can be the wisest move you could possibly make. Even strong marriages hit rough patches.
Getting the help you need with marital communication or any other issues shows strength and

Look for Communication Obstacles

In the Song of Songs, Solomon mentioned the “little foxes that ruin the vineyard” (Song of
Songs 2:15). He was talking about the supposed “little” things that creep into a marriage and
cause big problems. In addition to listing action points, your playbook can also help you identify
the “foxes” that pose the greatest threats to communication in your marriage.

For example, you might have issues that have damaged the trust between you and your wife.
Those problems need to be addressed before communication can thrive. You also might need to
watch for bad habits, like interrupting or picking the wrong time and/or place to raise the topic
for discussion. Recognizing and avoiding these obstacles can strengthen your skills and lead to
more effective communication in your marriage.

What is a disciple in Jesus?

By Bob Bunn
Manhood Journey

After a night of prayer, Jesus called twelve men to follow Him. Over time, they’ve become
known as His disciples. But they weren’t His only disciples. In fact, He’s still calling disciples
today. But what is a “disciple in Jesus,” anyway? It’s a word we see in the Bible and hear in
sermons, but we don’t use it much in everyday language. As a result, we never really stop to
think of ourselves as disciples. And we don’t think about what it means to be one.

If we claim to be a follower of Christ, though, we need to know what being His disciple requires.

Defining a disciple

The term “disciple” comes from the Greek word mathetes, which refers to a pupil or student. In
Jesus’s day, it described a young apprentice who sat at the feet of a recognized leader. If you
were Jewish, that was probably a rabbi. If you were Greek, it was probably a philosopher.
Sometimes, the religious side even got mixed up with politics. For example, the Pharisees and
Sadducees were religious sects, but they also held a lot of political influence.

But one thing sticks out about the role of a first-century disciple: imitation. Discipleship wasn’t
just “book learning.” Disciples had to live out what they were taught—and actively transmit
those teachings to the next generation. Discipleship is heart knowledge rather than head

That held particular significance when Jesus enlisted His disciples. He came to earth with a
mission, and He called His followers to put His teachings into practice and mentor new
generations of disciples to do the same. His disciples didn’t just pick up a part-time job that they
could pursue at their convenience. They became lifelong learners in His school—and accepted
His mission as their own.

Starting with Jesus

Ultimately, the answer to What is a disciple? starts with Jesus. After all, you really can’t
understand what it means to be His disciple until you understand what He’s all about. You need
to see Him as He really is if you’re going to embrace His authority.

Of course, the world has its opinions. Many think Jesus was a nice guy who got a raw deal from
the Romans and Jews. Others believe He was a great ethical teacher, along the lines of
Confucius, Muhammad, or even Moses. But those all fall short of Jesus’s true identity.

Rather being the nice guy next door, Jesus is God’s Son and the Savior of the world. He is the
all-powerful Creator and is worthy of all worship. What’s more, He is the only way to God. No
one can have a relationship with God apart from Christ.

Once Jesus’s followers got a handle on being a disciple, they were more concerned with
worshiping Him and bringing Him glory than anything else. While they demonstrated love to
everyone, they refused to compromise the truth that Jesus had shared. Obviously, that lack of
“tolerance” created problems, but His disciples chose to suffer instead of backing down from
their commitment to Him.

What being a disciple looks like

Internet searches provide a wealth of suggestions about what a disciple of Jesus should be. But
it’s best to draw our conclusions from Scripture. God’s Word offers the most reliable picture of
Christ and Christian discipleship. It’s a lifelong adventure, but here are three biblical qualities of
Jesus’s disciples.

Disciples in Jesus are transformed.

When an individual genuinely comes to Christ, everything changes: their hearts, minds, and
affections. Their ultimate goal shifts toward obeying Jesus and bringing Him glory. It’s not they
have to give up everything that’s important to them, but they start filtering everything through
Him because He is more important.

Disciples in Jesus are servants.

Jesus was a servant who put the needs of others before Himself (Mark 10:45). He also was a
servant in the sense that He obeyed His heavenly Father’s wishes at every turn. He never got
ahead of the Father, and He never operated outside the Father’s purpose. Jesus challenged His
disciples to serve one another in love. In fact, that loving service would be how those outside the
church would recognize His people (John 13:14-15).

Disciples in Jesus produce fruit.

In John 15, Jesus said He is the Vine that provides life, while His disciples are branches that
survive only by staying connected to Him. The ones who remain in the Vine produce fruit (John
15:5). They bring glory to Christ through their lives and draw others toward His kingdom. True
disciples can’t help but point others to the Savior.

Each of Jesus’s disciples left something behind. For guys like Peter and John, it was their fishing
boats and nets. For Matthew, it was his tollbooth. Eventually, all of them surrendered their idea
of the Messiah as a conquering king in favor of Jesus, the Suffering Savior.

If we’re serious about becoming a disciple of Jesus, we will have to surrender something as well.
It will be different for each person, but it will probably be a difficult choice. In the end, though, it
will be the best decision we ever make because being His disciple is worth it.

Nothing else compares.

The Importance of Fathers in Society

By Bob Bunn

If you want to see how our culture views the importance of fathers in society, just take a look at
television and movies. Dads were once elevated as wise and loving role models, they are now
more likely to be portrayed as foolish and lost. On one end, they are bumblers who don’t have a
day’s worth of common sense. On the other end, they are manipulative abusers who will do
whatever they can to get their way. Even worse, in some cases, fathers are nowhere to be found
at all.

Whatever the case, it’s not a pretty picture. It’s also not an accurate portrayal of what genuine
fatherhood means.

For decades, research has consistently affirmed the importance of fathers. What’s more,
academic studies and anecdotal evidence have emphasized the damage done when fathers don’t
step up and fulfill their family responsibilities.

So, let’s take a few minutes to set the record straight. Fathers are incredibly important. In fact,
the importance of dads really can’t be overstated. And, among all the reasons why the world
needs involved and active dads, one stands out as most vital to families and society.

Dads and God

Fathers have a lot of responsibilities that make them important, but none is more significant than
the role they play as the primary spiritual leaders of their homes. From ancient times, God has
called dads to talk to their children about Him and to lead them toward Him in a meaningful
way. Of course, that does not diminish the role and influence of mothers, but the Scriptures seem
to emphasize fathers.

In addition, children often define their heavenly Father through the filter of their earthly fathers.
If the human relationship goes south, it’s harder for kids (and, later, adults) to believe God really
cares about them and wants the best for them. The power of projection is real, which makes the
way a father approaches his spiritual role so important.

What Makes Dads So Important

Thankfully, a dad who takes his spiritual obligations seriously is more likely to take other roles
and responsibilities seriously. In the list below, I’ve identified five additional areas of influence
that underscore the importance of fathers.

Fathers set the tone.

The importance of fathers can be seen through the spirit cultivated in their own homes. Through
their words, actions, attitudes, and priorities, dads create a culture. In the best cases, that culture
will be open and loving. In the worst cases, it will be marked by fear and repression. While each
person is responsible for their own actions, dads set the tone for the rest of the family.

Fathers influence identity.

All children long for acceptance and affirmation, especially from their fathers. Encouragement
can raise kids to incredible heights, while disapproval (or even the perception of disapproval) can
be devastating. When it comes to shaping identity, the importance of dads can’t be overstated.

On one hand, boys look to their fathers to learn how to be a man. On the other hand, girls look to
their fathers to set the standard for other significant men in their lives. The way fathers relate to
their kids goes a long way toward determining how those kids develop mentally, emotionally,
and (as mentioned above) spiritually.

Fathers establish discipline.

Fathers are important because they provide an example of good discipline. While husbands need
to work in conjunction with their wives on matters of discipline, they should never abdicate their
role in setting boundaries and enforcing consequences. Also, children who are disciplined with
love (rather than anger) learn to deal with rules better as adults.

Of course, the key to disciplining children is learning to discipline yourself first. Thankfully,
Scripture can provide great insights into both sides of this discipline equation.

Fathers nurture security.

Often, children get into trouble at school or in the community because they struggle to feel a
connection at home. In many cases, they don’t experience the comfort that comes from a father
who intentionally provides a sense of security. Kids need to know that dad has their back.

Interestingly, the best ways dads can offer this security have nothing to do with tough talk or
aggressive actions. Instead, they communicate security through things like physical affection and
a healthy relationship with their spouse. When kids experience these elements at home, they
don’t need to look for security anywhere else.

Fathers provide for families.

In one of his last known letters, Paul told his friend Timothy that Christian men who did not
provide for their families were worse than men who claimed no relationship with God at all (1
Timothy 5:8). While such men might have eternal security in Christ, God will hold them
accountable for shirking the responsibility He has given them to care for their wives and kids.

But we also need to remember that the importance of fathers in this arena is not limited to
financial concerns. Healthy dads know how to balance work and family time. This also has the
added benefit of teaching kids about the value of hard work, while reminding them they are not
defined by a job or position.

Every Intentional Father Matters

When you consider the importance of fathers in our society, you might feel a little overwhelmed.
That’s understandable because it’s a really big job. But you also need to understand that you are
not alone. Organizations like Manhood Journey have a variety of resources that can equip you to
be the man and father God has called you to be. What’s more, you can find other men who are
going through the same struggles and want to make the same positive impact on their children’s
lives. You can learn and grow together.

Most important, you have the blessing and support of your heavenly Father. He created you and
He loves you more than you can imagine. He wants you to succeed, and He’s standing ready to
guide and direct you.

Fathers are important. God says so. Research affirms it. The commitment you make to become a
living example of the importance of dads in our society will speak volumes as well.

The Biblical Definition of a Man

By Bob Bunn
Manhood Journey

Moving targets are always harder to hit. You have to adjust for things like speed, distance, and
direction. Even the slightest shift drastically affects your chances of success.

Today, men face the challenge of hitting a moving target. We want to know what it means to be
a man, and what it takes to fulfill the roles we’ve been given. But the world’s standards keep
changing. That’s why we need a biblical definition of a man. 

While the world’s ideas of manhood around us may shift like sand on the beach, God’s view
never changes. The Bible’s definition of man is he who is steadfast and immovable. While time
might alter the messages we hear about manhood, the biblical definition of man remains true.

What Does the Bible Say?

Regardless of the translation you use, the word “man” shows up thousands of times in the Bible.
But it makes its first appearance in the very first chapter of the very first book: “Then God said,
‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness’ ” (Genesis 1:26, CSB). After a few
days of creating everything else in the world, God turned His attention to His highest creation:

That initial reference uses the Hebrew word adam, which is where the first man got his name.
While that term can refer to human beings in general (mankind), it can also refer to an individual
man. The Bible emphasizes the distinct nature of that first man when God created the first
woman (the Hebrew word, issah) from Adam’s rib. The difference in wording suggests a
difference in form and function.

So, while men and women are both humans created by God and both hold a special standing in
His eyes, they were made to be different. That’s a foundational principle when it comes to
identifying a biblical definition of man.

The Stuff That Makes a Man

It makes sense that the biblical definition of man begins by setting him apart from his partner.
Regardless of what the culture might preach, the Bible is clear that men and women are unique.
Again, both hold value as the pinnacle of God’s creative work, but a proper understanding of the
Bible’s definition of a man has to start with that truth.

As we dig a little deeper in His Word, we find that God reveals more truths about what it means
to be a man from His perspective. The following list includes five primary truths drawn from
Scripture that strengthen our framework for a biblical definition of man. 

1. Man is created in God’s image. The theological term is imago dei, which is Latin for “image
of God.” And like the distinctions between man and woman, this truth is drawn from Genesis.
Even before Adam was created, God declared that human beings would be made “in our image”
(Genesis 1:26). The narrative goes on to explain that God followed through on His word. He
“created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27, CSB).

The biblical definition of man includes humanity’s reflection of its Creator. We reveal God to the
world in a special way. Over the centuries, scholars have debated exactly what that looks like,
but one thing remains clear. The Bible says a man has value and purpose because he is made in
the image of God.

2. Man has work to accomplish. The psalmist said that God made man “ruler over the works of
(God’s) hands” (Psalm 8:5-6). From the very beginning man was given the responsibility of
watching over the garden and taking care of everything God had created (Genesis 2:15). While
we want to avoid becoming a workaholic, part of man’s value is tied to the responsibility and
trust God bestowed on him.

You may not be a farmer, and, like me, you may know nothing about taking care of a garden.
But God still has given each of us purpose by giving each of us work to do, and our work does
provide for our families. In fact, Paul told Timothy that anyone who did not provide for his
family was worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8). The biblical definition of man involves
embracing work for His glory (Colossians 3:23).

3. Man is an eternal being. In his essay “Weight of Glory,” C.S. Lewis stated that “ordinary
people” do not exist: “You have never talked to a mere mortal.” That’s because every
person—including every man—is an eternal being. We all will live forever. The only question is
our final destination.

The Bible’s definition of man emphasizes our eternal nature. As followers of Christ, we believe
that living is Christ and dying is gain (Philippians 1:21). We believe that being “away from the
body” means being “at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). The fact that we will live
forever should influence the way we live as men right now.

4. Man is built for relationships. A look at the biblical definition of man reveals that we are
wired for relationships. We are not made to go it alone. From the Bible’s point of view, being a
man is a team sport. Men like Moses and Joshua, David and Jonathan, Jesus and His disciples,
and Paul and Timothy underscore just how seriously God’s Word takes our need for
relationships. One biblical writer compared our need for relationships to iron sharpening iron
(Proverbs 27:17).

First and foremost, we need a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Beyond that, we need
family and friends to keep us sharp. We need our lives to intersect with mentors who will help us become better husbands, biblical fathers, better friends—better men. No consideration of the Bible’s definition of man would be complete without focusing on relationships.

5. Man has moral options. God could have created us to love and serve Him without question.
But He loved us enough to give us a choice. And while the narrative of Eden reveals how our
freedom led to our frailty, it also reminds us that we have options for salvation.

Of course, sin has left its mark. We are broken and we are imperfect creatures who desperately
need a Savior. But we are not beyond hope. The biblical definition of man states that we are
moral agents, free to choose God over self. In fact, we are never closer to experiencing true
manhood than when we embrace Him.

The Perfect Man

If you’re searching for a living illustration of the Bible’s definition of a man, look no further than
Jesus Christ. He is the perfect Man. He is our manhood mentor and role model.

As the perfect Man, He set a standard that’s impossible for us to reach. He is a target none of us
can come anywhere close to hitting. But His example is worth studying and, as best as possible,
emulating. Through His life, we can learn about strength and service, honesty and humility, faith
and forgiveness.

He shows us a new way to be human. He teaches us how to embrace the biblical definition of

These Times Call for Courage

Brett Clemmer
Man In the Mirror
President and CEO

What is Courage?

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at
the testing point.” We are certainly at a testing point. 
All around us, Christianity is being challenged. As Aaron Renn has said, while Christianity at
one point was viewed positively, and then neutrally, it is now viewed negatively. As he wrote: 
Negative World (2014–Present): Society has come to have a negative view of Christianity. Being
known as a Christian is a social negative, particularly in the elite domains of society. Christian
morality is expressly repudiated and seen as a threat to the public good and the new public moral
order. Subscribing to Christian moral views or violating the secular moral order brings negative
consequences. 1

Carl Trueman, author of The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, and its companion, Strange
New World, further points out the obsession our modern culture has with self-determination.
“The sovereign self is the psychological equivalent of democracy,” he writes. “It functions on the
assumption that what I feel is me and that what I will is what is right and good.” 2  To put it
another way, my feelings are who I am, and what I want to do is always right and good.  
To argue against this mindset is dangerous in today’s world. To tell someone that their feelings
are not valid or true is the ultimate form of bigotry. It’s the denial of someone’s “own truth.” To
question someone’s motives is to insult them at the core level. 

When the World is Upside Down 

So when it seems like the world has gone crazy (e.g., people saying that up is down, black is
white, or good is bad), how do we respond as Christian men? At the end of 1 Corinthians, Paul
exhorts the believers: “Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Do
everything in love. (1 Cor 16:13 NIV) 3  Paul’s words are a guideline for us as men living in this
difficult culture.

BIG IDEA: We are called to be courageous in the face of life and the world’s challenges. 
At the core of this directive is courage. To be courageous, you must be vigilant (on your guard)
and firmly rooted in the gospel (standing firm in the faith). And courage is exercised in godly
strength and abiding love. As godly men, our stand for the gospel is a stand for truth. But we

must understand the truth itself is under attack. The truth of the Spirit of God is “folly” to the
natural man, (1 Cor 2:14), and the wisdom of this world is “foolishness” to God  (1 Cor 3:19). In
other words, you’re going to have to pick sides. 

So brother, what will you choose? Will you follow the winds of culture and its ever-changing
definitions of morality, truth, and goodness? Or will you follow Christ and his word? When all
others around you contradict what the Bible teaches, will you take up your cross and stand for
God’s truth? Again, to quote Carl Trueman, “We are all creatures of our culture, but Christians
are called to be creatures of the Word of God.” 4

1, accessed April
24, 2022
2 Carl Trueman, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive
Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 34.
3 Interestingly, the ESV translates “be courageous” as “act like men.”
4 Carl Trueman, “The Importance of Being Reformed,” Reformation 21, October 10, 2014,