“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” This famous line from Cool Hand Luke describes a universal challenge for marriages. Husbands and wives don’t always communicate with each other as well as we should.
In this age where everybody carries multiple communication devices, you’d think we’d be better at it. Today we can text, tweet, Face Time, Insta-gram, post on Facebook or Linked-In, email, chat, FAX, call or write a note. With Siri’s help, we can even do it “hands-free”.
But these are not the only ways we communicate. A smile across the room, or simply making eye contact during a conversation communicates volumes. We communicate love by giving each other our time and our undivided attention.
Sadly, we sometimes communicate in unhealthy ways as well. There is a negative effect when we raise our voice, roll our eyes, nag, or use sarcasm. Behaviors like dropping your dirty clothes on the floor, or leaving the gas tank of the car empty also communicate.
But most of the time it is the words we speak and the tone in which we speak them.
Why do you suppose healthy communication is vital to a healthy marriage? Because communication is where we connect. It is the life-link between our lives. Communication is to a relationship, like blood is to a body. Blood flows to and from every cell of the body. It brings life sustaining oxygen and nourishment, and it carries away the hazardous waste. If we cut off the flow of blood, the cells will die. If we cut off communication our relationships will die. But, if we maintain quality communication in our marriages, they will stay strong and healthy, and best of all, we will truly feel connected.
Here’s what the bible has to say about Communication:
Proverbs 18:21 says: Death and life are in the power of the tongue…
We learn: The health of our marriage relationship is directly affected by the quality of our communication.
Proverbs 16:23-24 says: The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips. Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.
We learn: We can teach ourselves to communicate well.
Proverbs 18:13 says: He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.
We learn: We need to be a ready listener. Don’t answer until the other person is finished. James 1:19 says “be swift to hear and slow to speak and slow to wrath.”
Proverbs 15:28 says: The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.
We learn: How we answer is just as important as what we answer. It is OK to take time to process before we answer our spouse.
Proverbs 15:1 says: A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
We learn: Stop arguments before they get started. Speak in civil tones and you’ll have much more productive conversations.
Proverbs 21:23 says: Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.
We learn: We seldom regret words we didn’t say.
Proverbs 29:20 says: Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
We learn: Slow down. Think before you speak. We don’t have to say every thought that comes into our mind.
Proverbs 31:26 says: She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.
We learn: Wisdom is knowledge rightly applied. Speak good words that are appropriate. There are some laws we should never break lest we suffer. Unless our tongue is governed by the law of kindness, we should say nothing. Remember love is patient and kind… 1 Cor 13:4
Proverbs 25:15 says: By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded, and a gentle tongue breaks a bone.
We learn: We don’t need to be harsh or forceful to make a point.
Proverbs 25:11-12 says: A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear.
We learn: Choose your words carefully and your spouse will appreciate your help to discover the solution to their need.
Proverbs 18:2 says: A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.
We learn: Acting self-centered, self-willed or self-important is foolish. We already know our own opinion. Spend less energy trying to be interesting, and more energy being interested in others.
Proverbs 27:2 Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.
We learn: Speak well of your spouse. Nobody wants to listen to you bragging about yourself.
Proverbs 25:9 says: Debate your case with your neighbor, and do not disclose the secret to another.
We learn: If you have a problem with your spouse, don’t complain to other people. Rather, talk with your spouse and together you may solve it. If you need help, enlist a counselor or someone who will be part of the solution.
Proverbs 17:14 says: The beginning of strife is like releasing water; therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.
We learn: Arguing doesn’t solve problems; it often causes them to escalate. A productive, respectful conversation will accomplish much more towards resolving a conflict.
Proverbs 29:11 says: A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.
We learn: After decades of encouraging people to “vent” their feelings. Psychologists have discovered that God was right all along. “Venting” is unhealthy and unwise…go figure.
Psalm 141:3 says: Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.
We learn: Ask the Lord to help you speak only good words that will enhance your marriage.
Isaiah 50:4 says: The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary.
We learn: Ask the Lord to give you words to encourage your spouse.
Ephesians 4:15 says: Speak the truth in love.
We learn: Spouses can help and encourage one another by reminding each other what is true. When we do so, in an attitude of love, we become our spouse’s best ally.
Ephesians 4:29 says Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
We learn: Words hurt and words heal. I wrote an e-book entitled The Weight of Words, based on this scripture. You can find it by clicking this link.