This guest post is by Paul (“Rafe”) Refior, Esq.
These FIVE RULES are based on the Bible and apply to everyone and all relationships. Below I am tailoring this specifically to married Christian couples. These FIVE RULES fall into that category of, “easier said than done,” but because this is God’s way as revealed in Scripture, you need to DO IT nonetheless. I am going to assume that the reader is willing to carefully consider and then work to apply these FIVE RULES about communication, first, because you will be obeying God and pleasing Him; and second, because you will be [a] blessing and pleasing your spouse and improving and deepening your relationship with your spouse. Most of the commands of Scripture apply to all, with only a few being limited to just spouses and marriage. Nonetheless, because of the primacy of the relationship between spouses, any general biblical instruction or requirement to all, is especially and even more applicable to spouses.
Rule #1 Always speak the truth to your spouse – never lie to your spouse
Ephesians 4:15 (speak the truth in love); Ephesians 4: 25-29 (put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor); Colossians 3:9 (do not lie to one another); Exodus 20:16 (you shall not bear false witness against another); Leviticus 19:11 (you shall not lie to one another); Psalm 34:13 (keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies); Proverbs 12:22 (the Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in men who are truthful); Proverbs 14:25 (a truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is deceitful); Proverbs 12:22 (lying lips are an abomination to the Lord). You need to always seek to bless and benefit your spouse. The relationship between you and your spouse is by far the highest, holiest, and most important human relationship you will have in this lifetime. As great as a Christian marriage is, so great also is the massive damage that is caused to that relationship if one spouse lies to the other.
Rule #2 Always speak to your spouse to edify, help and encourage
(1) Let your words build up and enrich your spouse. Romans 14:19 (therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification); Ephesians 5:19 (address each other in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs); Proverbs 10:11 (the mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life); Proverbs 12:25b (a good word makes the heart of man glad); Proverbs 18:21a (death and life are in the power of the tongue); Luke 6:45 (a good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good… For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks); Proverbs 13:3 (he who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction); 1 Peter 3:9 (… Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, blessing…)’ Proverbs 15:23 (how good is a timely word); Psalm 71:8 (give praise for one another, declaring their splendor); Ephesians 4:29 (speak what is good for building up and edification, fit for the occasion, giving grace to the hearer); Colossians 4:6 (let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt); Proverbs 16:24 (gracious words are like a honeycomb—sweetness and health to the hearer); Proverbs 12:25 (a good word makes him glad); Proverbs 25:11 (a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver); 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (encourage one another and build one another up); 1 Thessalonians 4:18 (encourage one another with Scripture); Hebrews 10:25 (encourage one another); 2 Corinthians 12:19 (we do all things, beloved, for your edification);
(2) Never speak harshly to your spouse and never cut down or say mean words to or about your spouse . Proverbs 11: 22 (whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent); 1 Timothy 5:13b (… not only idle but also gossips and busybodies saying things which they ought not); James 4:11 (do not speak evil against one another); James 5:9 (do not grumble against one another); Galatians 5:15 (do not bite or devour one another); Proverbs 11:9 (with his mouth, the godless man would destroy his neighbor, but by knowledge the righteous are delivered); Ephesians 4:29 (let no corrupt word proceed from your mouth); Proverbs 29:11 (a wise man holds back his spirit from venting). In case you have a very thick skull, and you still do not get it even after reviewing those verses, let me state a couple of practical suggestions. Never, never, never, never cut down your spouse when speaking to her/him or when speaking to others. Also, never, never, never, never make your spouse the brunt of a joke – it is not funny, and your spouse will not consider it to be appropriate jesting. And one more, never, never, never, never attack the character of your spouse, directly or indirectly, in the presence of your spouse or in the presence of others.
(3) Speak wisely when you are communicating with your spouse Psalm 37:30 (the mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of justice); Ecclesiastes 10:12 (words from the mouth of the wise are gracious); Proverbs 15:2 (the tongue of the wise commands knowledge); Proverbs 10:31 (the mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom); Proverbs 12:18 (the tongue of the wise brings healing); Proverbs 25:12 (a wise reprover to a listening ear is like a gold ring or ornament); Colossians 3:16 (admonish one another in all wisdom).
Rule #3 Speak only when you are in control of your mind and emotions
(1) Whenever you speak be very sure that you are in control of your emotions and your words. Proverbs 18:21 (death and life are in the power of the tongue); 1 Timothy 1:7 (God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind); Psalm 141:3 (set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips); Ephesians 6:45 (a good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks); Proverbs 13:3 (he who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction); Proverbs 29:20 (do not be hasty in your words); Galatians 5:22-26 (the fruit of the Spirit is … self-control); Proverbs 15:4 (a gentle tongue is a tree of life); Ephesians 4:29 (speak only what is helpful for building others up and benefiting those who listen); Proverbs 21:3 (whoever keeps his mouth, keeps himself out of trouble); Proverbs 29:20 (do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him); Psalm 39:1 (I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue); Proverbs 10:19 (in the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise); Proverbs 15:28a (the heart of the righteous studies how to answer).
(2) By first controlling your mind, heart and thoughts, you will be able to control your speech. Philippians 4:8 (finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things); 2 Corinthians 10:5b (bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ); Proverbs 23:7 (for as he thinks in his heart, so is he); Psalm 141:3 (set a guard over your mouth and keep watch over your lips); Proverbs 17:27 (he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding); Proverbs 15:28 (the heart of the righteous ponders how to answer); Proverbs 29:11 (a wise man quietly holds back his spirit from venting).
(3) Never raise your voice in anger or hostility toward your spouse; and consciously and deliberately control your countenance, volume, tone, and words when speaking with your spouse. The Bible verses listed above under Rule #2 and earlier in this Rule #3 are all related to this point. There is a great deal of literature dealing with anger and I’m not going to dig into it in this book. One verse anyway. Proverbs 15:1 (a gentle answer turns away wrath).
Rule #4 Be deliberate to respectfully listen to your spouse
…so that your communication with your spouse will genuinely be a two-way conversation; listen and speak with your spouse with an attitude that what your spouse has to say is just as important and valid as what you have to say. Proverbs 18:13 (if one gives an answer before he hears, it is a folly and shame); Proverbs 18: 17 (the one who states his case first seems right, until the other cross-examines him); Proverbs 15:28 (the heart of the righteous ponders how to answer).
(1) Give your undivided attention to your spouse when your spouse is speaking; Do not give mere lip service when your spouse is speaking, but instead honestly listen with the intention of understanding your spouse’s positions and reasoning; then sincerely ask relevant follow-up questions. Proverbs 22:17 (pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise); James 1:19 (everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak); Proverbs 15:31 (the ear that listens to the life-giving reproof will abide among the wise); Proverbs 19:20 (listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise the rest of your days); Proverbs 25:12 (like a gold earring or ornament made of fine gold, is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear).
(2) Always attribute good and valid motives to your spouse, giving him/her the benefit of the doubt 1 Corinthians 13:3-8 (… Love thinks no evil, … love believes all things …love hopes all things… love never fails).
(3) Always give respect and courtesy to your spouse when you are communicating. 1 Corinthians 13:5 (Love does not behave rudely…); Titus 3:2 (speak evil to no one, avoid quarreling, be gentle, and show perfect courtesy toward all people); James 4:11 (do not speak evil against one another).
Rule #5 Be very discerning of when it is best to just shut up…and then …shut up
Proverbs 17:28 (even fools are thought to be wise and discerning when they hold their tongues); James 1:19 (be quick to listen and slow to speak); Proverbs 10:19 (the prudent hold their tongues); Ecclesiastes 5:2 (Be not rash with your mouth); Proverbs 10:19 (whoever restrains his lips is prudent); Psalm 39:1 (I will guard my tongue with a muzzle; Proverbs 11:12 (a man of understanding remains silent ; Proverbs 29:10b (a fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back); Proverbs 29:20 (do you see a man hasty in his word; there is more hope for a fool than for him); 1 Peter 4:8 (love covers a multitude of sins); Proverbs 10:12 (hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs); Proverbs 13:3 (he who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction); Proverbs 11: 22 (whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent); Proverbs 29:11 (a wise man holds back his spirit from venting).
© 2020 by Paul (“Rafe”) Refior