Summary: A topical study on communication in marriage
Foundation Four: Communication in Marriage
At the core of every healthy marriage is the ability of a couple to successfully communicate with one another. Communication can be difficult because each individual may have a different background, experiences, and sometimes even culture, which all affect communication. In addition, 60 to 90% of all communication consists of body language, eye contact, facial expressions, and tone rather than words. Communication is a skill that must be learned and practiced in order to have a successful marriage.
The Bible teaches us a great deal about communication, since God, the author of the Bible, is a communicator. When he created the heavens and the earth, he did it by communicating. He said, “Let there be light.” In fact, through nature he speaks to us every day. David said this:
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
God speaks to us through nature, telling us of his great glory and splendor. He also speaks to us through his Son, who came to the earth not only to die for our sins but also to give us the Father’s words. In fact, John the Baptist called Jesus “the Word” (John 1:1); he was the very communication of God. Jesus said this about his teaching: “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me” (John 7:16). And, ultimately God speaks to us through the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Tim 3:16-17). God is a communicator, and man, who is made in the image of God, is a communicator as well.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
What do you think Solomon meant when he said the power of life and death is in the tongue?
Solomon understood that as people made in the image of God, we similarly have power in our tongues. We have power to create and power to destroy. We can encourage people and lift them up with our words or destroy them with our words.
Whoever said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” was very mistaken. Many people carry great hurt and pain from words spoken over them years ago. They were ugly, skinny, fat, not smart enough, not athletic enough, not social enough, etc., and that stigma stayed with them for years. In the same token, people who have had encouraging friends, family, and community typically are confident and hopeful. In fact, words spoken over people can even affect their destiny. James, the brother of Jesus, taught that even though the tongue is a small member of the body, it controls the body. It guides the body like the bit in a horse’s mouth or the rudder of a ship (cf. James 3:1-6). There is a tremendous power in our words to give life or bring death.
The power of communication is especially important in the context of marriage. By our words, we can develop a beautiful and prosperous marriage that glorifies God. And, by our words, we can destroy the very gift and mission God has given us in marriage.
In this session, we will consider principles that will enhance communication in marriage. We will study the importance of growing in knowledge of your mate, honoring and accepting gender differences, always speaking edifying words, listening to your mate, and learning to remain in Christ.
Know Your Mate
The first principle that will enhance communication is simply getting to know your mate. Peter said this in 1 Peter 3:7: “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” “Be considerate” can also be translated “dwell with them according to knowledge,” as seen in the KJV.
What type of knowledge must the husband develop in his relationship with his wife in order to respect and honor her? The husband must develop knowledge of his wife’s person. Each person is uniquely made. Things that bother the wife might not bother the husband. Things that excite the husband might not excite the wife and vice versa. There is often miscommunication in marriage simply because couples do not know each other well enough.
The husband must learn what makes the wife happy, what makes her sad, and what angers her and use this information to build her up and communicate with her better. Even though Peter speaks to husbands, this is certainly true for wives as well. In Greek, the word “know” typically refers to not just an intellectual knowledge but also an experiential knowledge. The husband and wife must know each other intimately so they can better communicate with one another.