“…speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” — Ephesians 4:15
How we talk to each other as husband and wife has a huge impact on our marriage. It can help us grow closer, but it can also tear us apart. Knowing some biblical steps to communicate God’s way—with love and grace—can help us be ready for every conversation, especially the difficult ones.
Last week we looked at two vital tools to good communication—prayer and living according to God’s Word. This week we will look at six essential steps that will lead us in God’s way to communicate well and have a good relationship with our spouses.
6 ESSENTIAL STEPS TO COMMUNICATE GOD’S WAY…
1. Get Your Heart Right
The very first step in good communication should always be to examine your own heart before you say a word. What we say and do comes from the heart. Remember Luke 6:45? “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Godly communication won’t happen if your heart is not right with God.
2. Seek God’s Help and Think It Through
Take time to understand the situation well before you speak to your spouse. Whenever possible, pray and think things through before you discuss it, seeking God’s guidance and help. Proverbs 15:28 tells us: “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.” So make certain you’re weighing and not gushing.
3. Take Time to Listen to Your Spouse
Your spouse likely has a different perspective from you. In order to understand their point of view, take time to listen closely when they talk.
Proverbs 18:13 says: “He who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame.” God has warned us. We better listen.
And don’t just pretend to listen. Don’t just stay quiet when your spouse talks while thinking about what you’re going to say next. Really listen—hear and digest what your spouse is trying to tell you. Communication is two-way. It’s not just about one person getting their point across and being heard. Concentrate on what your spouse is saying. Ask for the Lord’s help with this, too. It’s not easy for most of us, but it’s crucial.
4. Choose the Right Time and the Right Way
Seek to have your conversation at the right time and in the right way. Without taking this important step, you’re likely to communicate the wrong thing.
Proverbs 15:23 says: “A man finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!”
Ask God to give you wisdom to know the best time. It should be when you both can focus on the conversation, with minimal distractions.
And strive to communicate love and grace to your spouse. This should always be our goal. Proverbs 16:24 tells us: “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
Timing, the words we choose, and the tone we use are clearly important.
5. Be Honest and Open
Good communication demands honesty.
In Ephesians 4:25, we are instructed: “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Being members of one body is nowhere more true than in the marriage relationship. Nothing will harm a marriage more than dishonesty.
And don’t be fooled. Our words don’t have to be outright lies to be false and deceptive. We can be dishonest when we are not totally forthcoming about something.
So often my wife has seen my expressions, actions, or tone of voice that tells her something’s not right. And when she asks what’s wrong, I say, “Nothing.” Is that dishonest? Absolutely. And it doesn’t resolve a thing. In fact, by refusing to be honest and deal with it in a godly manner, the situation goes on and continues to harm our relationship. Only when I open up and share the problem with her can it be resolved.
I love the old Pink Panther movies. They’re silly, but I find the slapstick comedy funny for some reason. They are about a bumbling French inspector who is after a jewel thief who has stolen a priceless pink diamond known as the Pink Panther. In one scene, the inspector enters a hotel and goes to the lobby desk. He notices a dog lying there. So he asks the clerk, “Does your dog bite?” The clerk says, “No, my dog does not bite.” The inspector then reaches down to pet the dog, and, of course, it bites him. He screams at the clerk, “I thought you said your dog does not bite.” And the clerk calmly responds, “That’s not my dog.”
Was the clerk being honest? By the letter…yes. But he knew what the inspector was asking.
We can be dishonest with our spouse in the same way. Only it’s not humorous, it’s harmful and deceiving.
Another way we can be dishonest is by saying we’re kidding about the mean thing we’ve just said when we know full well we weren’t joking. Or sometimes we try to divert the subject to something else rather than talking about the real issue bothering us. We must strive to be totally honest and deal with the real issue at hand.
But, as always, whatever we say needs to be said from a heart of love. Ephesians 4:15 tells us to speak the truth in love: “…speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”
Where there is dishonesty, there cannot be unity and oneness in a marriage. Dishonesty will lead to distrust, and there cannot be oneness where there is distrust. We must be willing to lay ourselves naked spiritually and emotionally before God and each other if we are going to be one.
What happened when Adam and Eve sinned? They covered themselves and hid. This is what sin does to our relationship with God and each other. And dishonesty is sin.
Do you want a strong relationship with God? With each other? Do you want a close, intimate relationship? Start with honesty.
6. Choose Your Words to Benefit Your Spouse
This final step is to choose the most beneficial words. Ephesians 4:29 says: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
The Greek word in this verse translated as unwholesome means rotten…stinky…garbage. These kinds of words are used to demean, berate, and harm. We must never let these slip from our mouths.
And the only way to keep unwholesome words from coming out our mouths is, again, to make sure our hearts are right with God. When we’re right with the Lord, then words that are helpful—those that build others up and benefit those who listen—will be in our hearts and come out our mouths.
Ask God to help you keep away from only pointing out the negative, but instead to speak appreciation for the positive. Ask Him to help you stay away from exaggerating your spouse’s faults and mistakes (especially using “you always” or “you never”). Ask God to help you instead focus and talk about the good aspects of your spouse. If something painful needs to be discussed, be sure to speak the truth in love.
These are just some of the truths about communication we find in Scripture. Begin working on these and ask God to help you put them into practice. Remember, this is right out of His Word, so we can be sure it is His will, and He promises to give us what we ask of Him and help us when we pray His will (1 John 5:14-15).
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Am I spending time every day praying and seeking God, so that my heart is in the right place?
- Do I think before I speak and consider what I am going to say?
- Do I really listen when my spouse talks or am I just pretending?
- Do I look for the best time to bring up an issue with my spouse?
- Is my goal to resolve a problem or to prove I’m right?
- Does my tone reflect love and grace?
- Am I being completely honest? Or am I seeking to deceive?
- Are my words chosen to benefit or tear down my spouse?
Next week, we’ll discuss four more ways we relate and communicate with each other that are key to our marriage relationship.
For more biblical principles on good communication, see 15 Biblical Principles for Good Communication in Marriage. There’s also a free printable PDF of this list under Free Resources.
May God bless you in all His wonderful ways,
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.
Telephone line photo by markito via pixabay, text and filter added.