“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” – Proverbs 25:11
It’s happened more times than I can count. Everything is fine and then, suddenly, it’s not. Maybe something was said in frustration. Maybe the day didn’t go well and the tension was wound up tight. Words spilled out or spewed out or maybe there were no words at all. But things weren’t right. And having a nice conversation about the day was the last thing either of us wanted at that point. So I would go in one room, and he would go in another. Oh, we were communicating all right…just not the kind of communication that brought us together.
Sound familiar? If you’ve been married longer than the length of your honeymoon, my guess is yes.
Conflicts arise for countless reasons. When two or more people are involved, there will be differences—of opinion, of perspective, of emotional and spiritual condition. Add to that each individual’s background and responsibilities, which cannot be fully understood by the other. And when we’re talking about a man and a woman? Well, such relationships are bound to clash.
But these differences don’t have to cause such turmoil. We can learn how to communicate in ways that bring us closer together instead of pull us apart, especially in those moments of conflict.
What to Do When Conflicts Come
God created us and knows us inside and out. He knows all about our hearts, our differences, our needs. So why would we look to anyone else for answers? God’s ways are always the best ways, and His Word gives us specific instructions on how to deal with conflict in our relationships. These are not our natural tendencies—our natural tendencies are based on self. Biblical steps to good communication make us think about the other person, with love and blessing as our motivation and God’s desired outcome as our goal.
15 Biblical Principles for Good Communication in Marriage
Here are fifteen principles God gives us in the Bible for good communication. These will help you face conflict in a beneficial way in order to bring resolution and restore oneness in your relationship.
1. When problems arise, acknowledge that you are part of the problem.
“Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?” – Proverbs 20:6
See also Genesis 3:8-19.
2. Be willing to change…Be part of the solution.
“When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, He asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’” – John 5:6
See also Matthew 5:23-26.
3. Be responsible for your own words, actions, and reactions. Don’t justify them by blaming them on your spouse.
“Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.” – Galatians 6:4-5
See also James 1:13-15.
4. Do not keep bringing up old arguments or wrongs.
“Love…keeps no record of wrongs.” – 1 Corinthians 13:5
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” – Isaiah 43:18
See also Philippians 3:13-14.
5. Focus on the positive instead of the negative.
“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8
6. Speak with kindness and gentleness.
“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” – Proverbs 12:25
“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” – Proverbs 16:24
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1
7. Take time to listen to your spouse with a desire to understand.
“He who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame.” – Proverbs 18:13
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” – James 1:19-20
8. Express your thoughts and concerns in an appropriate way.
“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear.” — Proverbs 25:11-12.
– Speak the truth in love.
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” – Ephesians 4:15
– Control your anger.
“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” – Proverbs 29:11
“In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” – Ephesians 4:26-27
9. Think things through before you speak.
“The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.” – Proverbs 15:28
“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction.” – Proverbs 16:23
10. Keep conflicts between yourself and your spouse as much as possible. Don’t get others involved unless it is absolutely necessary.
“If you argue your case with a neighbor, do not betray another man’s confidence…” – Proverbs 25:9
See also Matthew 18:15-18.
11. Treat your spouse the way you want to be treated.
“Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them…” – Matthew 7:12
12. Do good to your spouse without expecting good in return. He/she will usually respond with good, but do not become angry if not.
“…do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.” – Luke 6:35
13. Always be ready to forgive.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32
14. Ask God to control your lips.
“Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” – Psalm 141:3
“The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue to know the word that sustains the weary.” – Isaiah 50:4
15. Never stop praying.
“Pray continually.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17
“Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” – Luke 18:1
Start Practicing Now
How wonderful it would be if all our conversations were covered in these principles. Of course, we can’t just whip out this list when a conflict arises. It is important to practice these principles daily, in every situation. Then when the heated moments come, we are better equipped to tackle the tension in a way that glorifies God and blesses each other.
Would you like a printable list? We’ve created a PDF version so you can print it out. Just click on the link below to download it. The link will also be posted on our Resources page.
Conflicts come. It’s a guarantee in this life…especially in married life. But they don’t have to keep us separated. By learning God’s ways to communicate, together we can overcome any problems that come our way.
Dearest Lord, help us to learn Your ways and to respond in love when conflicts arise. May we always turn to You for answers and strive to honor each other and You with every thought, word, and action. Guide us, Father, to see the problems from Your perspective. And may glorifying You and restoring oneness always be our goal. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Blessings to you! Sabra
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Photo by Sabra Penley.