4 Communication Keys Every Christian Should Know for a Beautiful Marriage
How we communicate with our spouse is the oil within our marriage. God wants it to be a fragrant, healing, soothing balm and lots of fun.
We communicate verbally and non-verbally but our words are particularly powerful and need to be used wisely and with great care.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. Proverbs 18:21
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. James 3:5
Non-verbal (e.g. body language) and electronic communication (e.g. texts, email, social media) are also very important. The key is to be sensitive to the messages you are sending to your spouse.
Body Language – ‘Be fully present’ when you communicate with your spouse and give positive non-verbal signals e.g. eye contact, body posture etc.
Electronic communication is used more and more today and it’s important to learn what your spouse likes and dislikes. Electronic messages can be easily misinterpreted leading to misunderstanding and conflict. In many cases, it may be more loving to pick up the phone to your spouse or talk face to face at an appropriate time.
Social media e.g. Facebook, can be a source of concern and conflict within a marriage, especially because of connections with past or existing relationships. As in other areas of your marriage e.g. financial management, be completely transparent with each other and agree a set of boundaries that you both feel comfortable with e.g. unfriending certain people, never any porn (see week 14) etc.
Topic 1 – First Key to Communication – Fragrance
Fragrance means a sweet or pleasing smell and God wants the communication with your spouse to be sweet and pleasing. It sets the tone or atmosphere within your marriage and your home.
Our words have the power to release life, hope, joy and peace. And they can also cause death, despair, misery and discord. Learn to use your words to bring fragrance to your spouse. Bless them with the sweetness and the pleasantness of your words.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs 25:11
Your words are the garden in which your love, romance and intimacy will bloom and flourish.
The fragrance of your words will inspire and encourage your spouse as you learn what to say, when to speak, how to speak (the tone and intonation of your voice) and where to speak.
Remember the dance we looked at in week 6 – What is Love? – Part 1. Learn how to move with your spouse, be sensitive to them and don’t tread on their toes.
The fragrance of your words will flow in the time you give to talk face to face with your spouse. Don’t compromise on this, one of the most important disciplines in your marriage. Our busy lives encroach on our time until we hardly have time to breathe.
But, never, ever compromise on your time with your spouse, simply to sit and talk together– ideally over a meal. Make this an intentional part of your marriage – ideally daily but at least once a week. It will bring fragrance into your relationship that will benefit every other part of your life – home, family, work, relationships etc.
In your time together, do the following:
- Let your spouse know how much you appreciate them and tell them why they are so special to you – their gifts, beauty, loyalty, hard work, cooking …
- Share what is going on in your lives – the good and the bad.
- Be honest about anything you are struggling with – practice transparency with your spouse. Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips. Proverbs 25:11
- End with a time of prayer together – give thanks to the Lord and commit what you have shared to Him.
Topic 2 – Second Key of Communication – Healing
We live in a broken world with a value system and view that is often opposed and even anti God and the Bible. Therefore, it’s inevitable that you and your spouse are going to experience discouragement, pain and weariness on a daily basis and if you’re not careful, it will impact your marriage.
Learn to use your communication skills to bring healing and restoration to your spouse. The most powerful communication tool you have to do this, is the non-verbal art of listening.
Listening – it’s interesting that God has given us one mouth but two ears and we should all listen a lot more. Your listening skills will help to bring healing to your spouse and will help to restore and encourage them after the buffeting of their day.
Make it a habit to find time to share with each other ideally, at the end of the day.* It’s incredibly helpful and powerful to share the frustrations, disappointments and also the encouragements of the day. And, while your spouse is sharing, be listening.
Listen well. Be all there for your spouse. It’s discouraging and demeaning if your spouse isn’t really paying attention to what you are saying. Turn off your mobile, concentrate, look your spouse in the eye, lean forward, nod your head etc., to let your spouse know you are really listening. Don’t interrupt, just let them off load.
When they ask, give your response and look for the words to encourage, give praise, and reduce the friction and wear and tear they may be feeling.
The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. Isaiah 50:4
*If you have children, this will probably have to happen after they go to bed.
Topic 3 – The Third Key of Communication – Soothing Balm
There are going to be times in your marriage when you disagree and this can lead to conflict.
There may also be times when your spouse off loads their grief, anger, frustration and pain on to you. Learn how to listen and bring soothing balm into your marriage by how you respond, even though their words may have wounded you.
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:4
In the two darkest years of our marriage,* in her grief, Jeannie went to a very dark place and she would off load her pain in outbursts of anger and hatred toward me. She cursed me in many ways and accused me of being the cause of Alex’ suicide. The words were very painful and they cut deep wounds into my heart.
However, as I mentioned in week 10 on Forgiveness, I knew Jeannie was in darkness and she didn’t really know what she was doing. I also knew God wanted me to love Jeannie and to bring light to her to help set her free. The best way I could do this while she was off loading on me was to listen and not to react or respond with harsh words (which is what Satan wanted me to do). Instead, I knew I needed to respond with love and gentleness. Love is always more powerful than anger and hatred!
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
However, when you are deeply wounded you must receive your own healing or you will soon falter. What I did, was to go downstairs to my study, in the middle of the night, and off load the pain and wounds caused by Jeannie’s words, at the throne of grace. With deep weeping, the Holy Spirit comforted me and poured in more of God’s love into my heart, from which I continued to love Jeannie.
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23
In coming to faith in Jesus Christ, we received the Holy Spirit and part of His fruit in our life is self-control. This is a beautiful characteristic that is a sure sign of the life of Christ in us. And, the words that come out of our mouth are an indication of how far Christ is reigning in our heart.
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:45
Store up good things in your heart about your spouse and exercise self-control in the words you say to him/her. Don’t lose your temper it only leads to harm. Psalm 37:8
*The two years after Alex committed suicide and Jeannie went into the pit of despair.
Topic 4 – The Fourth Key of Communication – Fun
As we’ve discussed in other areas of your marriage, it’s better to play offense rather than defense in your communication. In other words, the communication with your spouse should be rich and overflowing with fun and edification for each other.
Communication is a wonderful gift of God and should be richly used to bless one another. In this way God is glorified and there will be limited opportunity for Satan to sow his lies in your marriage.
Overflow with gratitude and encouragement for each other. Laugh often and deeply with each other. Don’t take yourself too seriously and make sure you can tease one another.
Jeannie and I say the silliest things to each other and we are often in fits of laughter.
Consider how you can bring more fragrance into your marriage and home by how you communicate with your spouse. What more can you do to ensure your verbal and non-verbal communication is life giving and encouraging for your spouse? Make it a priority to have time with your spouse to share together and, develop your listening skills.
With much love,