Most of my counseling deals with communication and conflict in relationships. Did you know that 50% of wives say their husbands don’t talk to them enough? Twenty five percent of children say then have never had a meaningful conversation with their dad. Most married couples only spend about 3-4 minutes in meaningful conversation each day. Eighty percent of marriages wish they had better communication.
So how do you communicate better? How do you resolve conflict in your relationship? My first piece of advice is to ensure you speak carefully to others. Sometimes what you don’t say is probably more important than what you do say. But what you do say can get you into a lot of trouble.
Psalm 141:3 says, “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord, and keep watch over the door of my lips.” Muzzle your mouth before it gets you in trouble. We all have things we wish we would not have said.
James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Your words are powerful and can be destructive. Proverbs 12:18 says, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
If you want healing in your relationship, then be careful with your words. When it comes to your spouse, you must also learn to speak their language. Let me explain. Everyone has a different communication style.
Men use half the words that women do. Most guys are “bottom-line” communicators – they just want the headlines and to get to the point. Ladies, in general, are more expressive and detailed. 1 Peter 3:7 says husbands should try to understand their wives. That means men you must engage and learn to speak their language.
Guys, let me give you the four most romantic words in the world: “and then what happened.” This will revolutionize your communication and show your wife you are truly interested and trying to grow in communication.
That you speak is not as important as what you speak. Speak words of life to your spouse! Let’s get practical – you can’t praise God and love your spouse while cursing at them and belittling them. Proverbs 15:4 says, “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”
Read the entire chapter of James 3 and get a bridle on your tongue. There are literally hundreds of verses about God changing your speech. Ephesians 4:28 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.”
Put the cussing, belittling, name-calling, talk of divorce, and coarse talk away from your marriage. There is power of life and death in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Good communication can stop conflict and heal wounds from it. Conflict is going to happen but it doesn’t have to destroy your marriage. The secret to 50+ years of marriage is happily learning to serve and love your spouse in their weaknesses, especially when they disappoint you.
The best scripture I can think of in resolving conflict is Ephesians 4:26. It says, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” In other words, don’t go to bed mad. It does not mean “stay up and fight.” Learn to resolve conflict quickly by dropping your pride, humbling yourself and saying, “I’m sorry.”
Remember, people aren’t your enemy (Ephesians 6:12) so stop making your spouse your enemy. You have to make the problem, not the person, the central issue and come to resolution. The relationship has to matter more than the problem at hand. You can walk hand-in-hand even if you don’t see eye-to-eye. I really think our conflict with people mostly stems from a conflict between us and God. Are you far away from God? What is in the way of your relationship with Him? How is your communication with Him?
Ephesians 2:14-16 reminds us, “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”
Your words are nuclear. They can empower or they can explode. It’s your choice. The same mouth can bless and curse. The same voice can speak life and death. Choose your words wisely and speak healing, hope, and encouragement into those you love.
Stephen Harrison is the former lead pastor of Family Church at White Hall. He is the lead pastor of The Summit Church Saline County.
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