When considering the subject of communication in marriage, I began to meditate on the subject of words and language. While there is no real discrepancy as to the creative power of God’s words so well described throughout the bible, is there anything special about the words we use… especially the spoken word? I would say yes!
As those who have been tasked with re-presenting the Godhead here upon the earth through the covenant of marriage (see previous blog on Traditional Marriage), words are extremely important. It was the spoken word that created the heavens and the earth. It was the spoken word that raised Lazarus from the dead. It was the spoken word that caused first Eve, then Adam to eat of the tree of good and evil. Words have power. Words can bring life. Words can bring death. Words matter.
The example of Adam and Eve in the garden shows clearly the importance of getting the words right. True communication does not occur until exactly what is spoken is accurately received. Whether one is at the transmission end or the receiving end, the fact is that neither can see into the mind of the other. Therein lies the difficulty. Collections of words don’t always accurately communicate what we each see in our minds. We are effectively blind and dependent on each other for an accurate description. Trust is not automatic and doubt often pervasive.
When reviewing the biblical account, it is significant that Satan immediately seized on these two weaknesses, and sought to find out exactly what Eve knew about the parameters that had been spoken to her by her husband. Remember, Eve wasn’t there when the commands were given to Adam.
The interrogation is telling. It was clear there had been a communication breakdown. Eve had gotten it wrong.
Adding insult to injury, the bible records that Adam was with her. At any point he could have stepped in and cleared things up, but he didn’t. Although it is not clear as to why he didn’t step in, it is my opinion that he was not willing to bet his life to find out whether God meant what he said, but he was willing to bet hers.
While there are many insights we can gain from the account in Genesis, I would like to focus specifically on the subject of words relative to communication.
First, God’s word has two important components; creative power and eternal longevity. We see this creative power here in Genesis, and the eternal aspect in Matthew and Luke where Jesus declares that heaven and earth will pass away, but his words will not pass away. This is extremely significant for our subject.
When we align ourselves with God’s word according to his plan, we are aligning ourselves with God’s creative power that will yield an eternal blessing.
Words don’t exist in a vacuum. Words are God’s primary way of communication between both He and His creation and among those of us created ones. Those words are to encourage us and provide a construct within which we may live a blessed and effective life. As such, how we then use words in our marriage become very important. We can choose to align ourselves and communicate those things that will promote creativity and eternal blessing or not.
Second, we see clearly that the immediate battle Adam and Eve face involves the communicated word. The goal of the enemy is to render God’s word null and void in our lives. The very word that would have kept Adam and Eve in the garden enjoying eternal bliss together was firstly challenged by the enemy and then ignored by both Adam and Eve. Their resulting state could not have been more diametrically opposed to God’s original intent. Words are important.
The point is that whether we realize it or not, we do have an adversary who will stop at nothing to attack the very core of God’s primary structure…the marriage. He did so immediately in the garden! Whether we find ourselves on the transmitting end or receiving end, rest assured that the enemy will be in our midst to immediately attempt to corrupt the words we speak.
Now some of you may be thinking all this a bit extreme, but consider this. While the enemy is neither omniscient nor omnipresent, he, unlike us, is in the spirit all the time. Consequently, when he and his minions happen to be in earshot of what is being spoken by the Lord, they hear everything clearly. This is why they question and use doubt to determine exactly what it is that we thought we heard. When we repeat, as Eve did, a well-intentioned version of Gods command instead of His clearly communicated command, the enemy knows that we are vulnerable and can be easily manipulated.
Additionally, when we compromise as Adam did by not stepping in to protect his bride, we weaken our position of strength and embolden the weaker which is our sworn enemy. Of course this leads to disaster.
To be clear about this, it could be said that Adam and Eve communicated effectively and ended up on the same page. It just wasn’t on God’s page. Communication apart from God’s constructs will appear effective but will not lead to life. This is why so many marriages that seem to be on the same page are struggling and failing. They are not on God’s page.
As a married couple for over 40 years, Irene and I learned early on that whatever our perceived differences, every time we assumed an adversarial position to oppose each other or stand in opposition to God’s word, we were allowing ourselves to be manipulated by the enemy. Intense fellowship happens. When it does, be proactive by acting in your circumstance instead of reacting to them.
“HELLO…” We do have an enemy and married couples are not it! We are on the same side. We are in covenant with each other. We are joined together in Christ against our real enemy. The same is true for all believing couples. Don’t forget it.
Effective communication begins by:
Knowing that as a married couple we are in covenant with each other.
Knowing that Christ is at the center of our covenant relationship.
Knowing that as we align ourselves with God’s word, we will experience His creative power and eternal blessings.
Knowing that as we each move towards God as individuals we come together in Him.
Knowing that a friend is always on the same side of the struggle.
Knowing that there will be times that we will be tempted to compromise Gods word and will need the intervention of our spouse to help us realign accordingly.
Knowing that it is imperative that we learn to focus, listen and get it right.
When we begin to align ourselves with the above, we will find that the foundation for excellence in communication will have been laid and we will be able to proceed from there. More on communication next time.