Possibly the most memorable movie line for my generation concerning communication was made by a character actor named Strother Martin. Although Martin’s name is not recognizable to most movie goers, he was a very successful and prolific actor appearing in hundreds of movies and television productions.
In 1967, he would play the prison camp warden in the movie, Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman. Newman played Luke, a likable non-conformist whose attitude seemed to keep him in various kinds of trouble. Possibly the greatest line in that movie was spoken after the warden had beaten Luke for mocking him. The warden said, “What we have here is failure to communicate.”
Communicating was not just a problem with Luke, but it is also the primary problem in most marriages today. Many couples seem to confuse speaking with each other with communicating. Perhaps a better phrase for communicating would be verbally connecting. Couples have a responsibility to verbally connect in a way that honors their commitment to each other and to the marriage covenant. Ephesians 4:29 gives us guidance on how we can accomplish this while pleasing our Lord in the process.
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
In this verse God, speaking through the Apostle Paul, commands that we speak only those words that build one another up. We should never spew cursings, accusations, gossip, or lies, but rather should speak words that edify. In marriage the majority of arguments would never begin if couples spoke words that build up rather than tear down one another.
There is one final ingredient that will insure good communication in marriage. Couples must be equally yoked which places them in a common position with God. This simply means that each spouse should be a devout believer in Jesus Christ and know that they have been genuinely born again. Secondly, they should be in good fellowship with Jesus, walking faithfully with him as well as their marital partner.
It was the great Adrian Rogers that once said, “A marriage is not primarily a duet but a holy trio.” Every spiritually successful marriage is a three-way partnership: husband, wife and Jesus Christ.
“One with a calloused heart has often become pernicious, devoid of compassion and empathy. A kind and gentle word spoken with a virtuous motive can dissolve the shell and liberate the love within.”