From the fruit of their mouths people’s stomachs are filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:20-21 TNIV)
What a mess! That’s about the only way that I can describe the traffic situation at Highlands Elementary School, last Wednesday. I’d gone to the school to pick up my son, Sam, and in doing so, became trapped in a traffic snarl so congested, that it took nearly 30 minutes to accomplish a 5 minute task. The traffic jam wasn’t the fault of school officials, nor did the blame lie with the Dothan Police Department. The culprit, as local folks well know, was a bridge. Yep…a bridge.
The bridge along Brannon Stand Road (the road on which the school is located) is undergoing repair, and the detour that bypasses the construction runs, quite literally, through a portion of the school parking lot. Couple the construction detour with the normal traffic of this heavily-traveled thoroughfare, then add in the few hundred extra cars all arriving at the school at same time, and you’ve got a bona fide mess. Needless to say, the bridge along this road is vital to the efficient flow of traffic.
In the much the same way, communication is just as important to the marriage relationship.
Communication between a husband and wife is the bridge by which husbands and wives connect their hearts and minds. Often times, lack of communication, is the underlying problem when marriages go awry. Usually, one, or sometimes both partners in a marriage relationship, will either consciously or subconsciously close down the bridge of communication. At times in marriage we try to build detours around broken communication. We’ll try to substitute intimate relations, expensive gifts, or sappy cards. But the fact is that there is no detour around effective communication with our spouse.
While there are many ways that we can communicate with our spouse, such as a touch, or a look, the spoken word is far and away the most common, concise, and effective means that we have to share ourselves with our partner. This can be incredibly stressful for husbands because when our wives talk to us, they sometimes expect us to talk back. Even more stressful for men is the situation where our wives simply want us to listen, and not offer “solutions”…wives say something went wrong, husbands say how to fix it…it’s how most husbands are wired.
Equally stressful for wives is the fact that husbands hardly ever want to just talk. For the most part, men simply don’t want to rehash the days events, or carry on any conversation where there is not a viable solution or opinion to be offered, a point to be made (or argued), or an angle to be worked. Men are great conversationalists when they are dating, because there is a point to the conversation…there are things to be learned about the woman they are dating which, when learned, will increase the man’s chance of endearing himself to the object of his affection.
So how do we keep the bridge of communication open when there is such a dichotomy of sentiment related to talking with our mate? I think the answer is short and sweet: With love, with intention, and with God. Our Scripture reminds us that our tongues possess the power of life and death. Let us speak to our spouses with words of love, even when we disagree. Easier said than done, I know, but that’s where intention enters. Since our words carry so much power, should we not give thought to them before they are uttered? Much too often in the marriage relationship, our tongue is in “drive” while our brain and heart remain in “neutral”.
Such a feat (intentionally speaking with truth, love, and care) can only be accomplished with God’s help. Jesus taught us that it’s not what goes into our body that makes us unclean, but that which comes from our mouths. More often than not, our words reveal what truly lies within our heart. So in all of our communication, especially that which we share with our husband or wife, let us first be in touch with God, submit the conversation to His sovereignty, and allow Him to edit our words before we inadvertently close the bridge that connects our innermost being with that of our spouse.