"Be gracious in your speech."
Though not exactly new advice for marriage, every couple must realize that the key to a successful relationship is good communication. Without it, the relationship will never develop beyond where it is right now. In fact, just the opposite will happen. The relationship will begin to degrade until it is virtually nonexistent. It is essential, then, that Christian men and women become spiritually motivated to make communication a central aspect of their marriages.
This has always been a challenge for some. Many people--particularly men--have traditionally found it difficult to open up and be vulnerable with someone else. This has even been true when conversing with someone they love. Though the desire to communicate may exist, the ability seems to be lacking. Charles Dickens hit the nail on the head when he said that: "A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other."
While this truly is a wonderful fact, it also highlights why it is so important that husbands and wives work even harder to communicate. While there are always going to be aspects of our partners that will remain forever mysterious to us, the goal of any good marriage should be to get as close to that mystery as possible, to know one another better, even, than the individual members of the relationship know themselves.
Communication has always been a challenge within relationships. Today, however, the challenge is greater than ever. With conflicting work schedules, social media addictions, technologies enabling you to work anytime and anywhere, the proliferation of video games, scholastic and extracurricular involvement of the children, plus a host of other distractions, finding time for a couple to truly communicate can seem impossible.
Clearly, healthy communication does not happen by accident. For husbands and wives to communicate, it must be intentional. Left to chance, it will never happen. Couples must purposefully set aside time for honest communication. This could mean devoting a few minutes each evening, one evening a week, or one weekend per month. Whatever the format, devoting time to catching up, discussing the status of the relationship, solving problems, dreaming about the future, and simply loving each other can greatly benefit any marriage.
Also, as words can be used to build up or tear down, couples must be aware of how they are communicating. Healthy communication means more than merely speaking the truth; it involves speaking the truth in love. Honesty and openness is essential, but so is grace and mercy.
The Message paraphrase describes the purpose of all conversations--whether within marriage or any other relationship--with these words: "Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out" (Colossians 4:6, MSG). Rather than using words to criticize or undermine, husbands and wives must seek to bring the best out of each other.
What steps are you willing to take to enrich your marriage? Are you dedicating time to spend with your spouse? Will you learn to be honest and vulnerable when you are together? Do you express love by tempering your words with grace? Take steps today that will enhance the long-term health of your relationship; recognize healthy communication as a vital component in your marriage.