Biblical Communication: A Marriage Survival Art Session 4 Notes

Biblical Communication: A Marriage Survival Art

Session 4

Communication in Marriage is Difficult (part 3)

Now we continue the first major topic - Communication in Marriage is Difficult. We discovered that the first reason why communication is difficult is that “communication in marriage takes place between two fundamentally different people - a man and a woman.” Now for the second of seven reasons. 

2. Mixed messages are sent when two people communicate. 

The Dilemma: “I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” (from Communication: Key to Your Marriage, p 53 Norman Wright)

An Illustration: Setting: The bedroom area at Judy’s house before we were married getting ready to go out with Gary and Kathy. Judy turns water on for bathroom sink, then goes to her bedroom. Then returns to the bathroom but the door is closed. So, she knocks on bathroom door,“Joe are you in there?” “Yes”, I reply. A few minutes later a repeat of same question and reply. Until on third time when water was seeping under the bathroom door Judy yells, “Joe.” I open the bedroom door and snarl, “what?”. {I thought she was asking if I was in the bedroom next to the bathroom which I was! She thought I was replying that I was in the bathroom.}

So, here is what’s going on: When two people talk six possible messages can get through  (from Communication Key to Your Marriage p 21 leaders guide) 

a.What you mean to say - are you in the bathroom

b.What you actually say - are you in there

c.What the other person hears – are you in there

d.What the other person thinks he/she hears - are you in the bedroom

e.What the other person says about what you said - yes

f.What you think the other person said about what you said - yes, I’m in the bathroom

 Now demonstrate how this works out in the illustration above. 

By the way, messages can get even more complicated by the estimation that there are 14,000 different meanings for the 500 most common words in English). 

3. Communication occurs at different levels (3rd reason why communication is difficult)

Following from Communication Key to Your Marriage Leader’s Guide p 69.


a.Level 5 – Cliché conversation = No personal sharing. Example: “How was your day”?

b.Level 4 – Reporting facts = No personal commentary.  Example: “I lost my job today.”

c.Level 3 – Ideas or judgments = Taking a little risk. Example: “I must be an idiot for not seeing it coming.”

d.Level 2 – Feelings or emotions = Sharing what’s behind his decisions or ideas. Example: “I’m worried about getting another job so I can support my family.”

e.Level 1 – Complete personal commitment = Absolute openness and honesty.  Example: “I really haven’t done a good job with our family finances to prepare for something like this.”

4. We overlook Biblical wisdom that will enhance effective communication (4th reason why communication in marriage is difficult)

Divide class into discussion groups. 

Option #1: Assign each group a passage or two from the first handout below. Each group to create a brief, pity, memorable thought that captures the communication nugget found or implied in the assigned passage(s). Also, cite a real life positive and a negative example based on the principle(s) found in the assigned passage(s). Report to class. Use the first handout below.

Option #2: Assign each group a passage or two from the second handout below. Each group to cite a real life positive and a negative example based on the principle(s) found in the assigned passage(s). Report to class.  Use the second handout below.

Communication Nuggets from the Bible

From each passage below draft a concise practical communication guideline. Cite one example (positive or negative) from married life (preferably from your marriage).

Proverbs 10:12

Proverbs 11:12-13

Proverbs 12:18

Proverbs 12:25

Proverbs 15:1

Proverbs 15:2

Proverbs 15:4

Proverbs 15:23

Proverbs 15:28

Proverbs 16:13

Proverbs 16:24

Proverbs 16:27

Proverbs 17:9

Proverbs 18:8

Proverbs 18:13

Proverbs 18:17

Proverbs 18:21

Proverbs 19:1

Proverbs 19:5

Proverbs 20:19 

Proverbs 21:23

Proverbs 25:11-12

Proverbs 26:20

Proverbs 29:20

Psalm 19:14

Psalm 141:3

Matthew 5:37

Ephesians 4:15 

Ephesians 4:25-31

Colossians 3:8-9

James 1:19

James 3:1-12

1 Peter 3:10

Communication Nuggets from the Bible NAU

Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions. (cf Proverbs  11:12, 17:9; 1 Peter 4:8)

Bury offenses whenever possible.

Proverbs 11:12 He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, But a man of understanding keeps silent. 13 He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter. 

Keep secrets secret.

NAU  Proverbs 12:18 There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Speak no harm.

Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad.

Spread joy by your words.

Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger 

Speak softly.

 Proverbs 15:2 The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, But the mouth of fools spouts folly.

You are known by your words.

Proverbs 15:4 A soothing tongue is a tree of life, But perversion in it crushes the spirit.(cf Proverbs 18:21; James 3:9-10)

Our speech -  a salve or a sword.

Proverbs 15:23 A man has joy in an apt answer, And how delightful is a timely word!

Know what to say and when to say it.

Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. (cf  Proverbs 18:13, 29:20; James 1:19)

Before engaging mouth, engage mind.

Proverbs 16:13 Righteous lips are the delight of kings, And he who speaks right is loved.

There is no downside to good speech.

 Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. 

Good words, good medicine.

Proverbs 16:27 A worthless man digs up evil, While his words are like scorching fire.

Words can be destructive.

Proverbs 17:9 He who conceals a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.

Love zips lips.

Proverbs 17:14 The beginning of strife is like letting out water, So abandon the quarrel before it breaks out. (cf Proverbs 15:1, 26:20)

 Nip it in the bud.

Proverbs 18:8 The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, And they go down into the innermost parts of the body. (= Proverbs 26:22)

Bad words, bad medicine.

Proverbs 18:13 He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him. 

Understand first; speak second.

Proverbs 18:17 The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him.

Every story has two sides.

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

Build up or tear down. Your choice.

Proverbs 19:1 Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.

Righteousness and destructive speech are oxymoronic.

Proverbs 19:5 A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who tells lies will not escape.

Dishonesty will eventually be exposed.

Proverbs 20:19 He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, Therefore do not associate with a gossip.

Loose lips, lose friends.

Proverbs 21:23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles (cf Psalm 141:3)

Control speech, control trouble.

Proverbs 25:11 Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances. 12 Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise reprover to a listening ear.

Invest in wise words.

Proverbs 26:20 For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down.

Don’t add fuel to the fire.

Proverbs 29:20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Think twice, speak once. 

Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.

Speak to please God.

Psalm 141:3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.

Recruit a divine sentry for your mouth.

Matthew 5:37 "But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes ' or 'No, no'; anything beyond these is of evil.

Your word must be good enough.

Ephesians 4:15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ

Compassion and truth telling go together

Ephesians 4:25-31 see separate study

Colossians 3:8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,

Eliminate sinful speech. 

James 1:19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger

Shut up for awhile.

James 3:1-2  Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.

Expect to regret something you said.

NAU  James 3:4 Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. 5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!

Never underestimate the power of your words.

James 3:8 But no one can tame the tongue it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.

Lord, help! 

James 3:9-10 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.

Unfortunately, my tongue is attached to a sinner.


Good speech, good life. 

5.We fail to recognize and avoid the many obstructions to effective communication in marriage (some of the previous Proverbs passages that address hindrances to communication)


Class Discussion: Verbally share the following communication impediments one at a time and invite students to comment on and/or share personal examples. (Cf Wayne Mack’s list of passages on pages 79-80 of “Strengthening Your Marriage.”

   When one or both spouses is or does the following communication can grind to a halt:

a.Makes no effort to develop shared interests and activities

b.Are unwilling to be transparent with the other

c.Enjoys sarcasm

d.Has a primary confidant other than the spouse

e.Is judgmental

f.Frequently corrects the other

g.Lacks compassion

h.Exhibits poor listening skills

i.Defaults to defensiveness

j.Answers before hearing the whole story

k.Is easily angered

l.Stretches the truth 



o.Is stubborn

p.Brings up the past 

q. Frequently teases the other

r.  Speaks without thinking

s. Makes the other the brunt of jokes

t.  Talks constantly and often about himself/herself

u. Brags

v. Is opinionated

w. Walks out when tensions rise

x. Clams up during disagreements

y. Blows up during disagreements

6. Preconceived notions tend to clutter up communication networks


Illustration: This is true of visual communication also. Two persons can look at the same object or see same event unfold and see entirely different pictures or come to different conclusions. Often people perceive what they are conditioned to rather than reality. (Show pictures below from “Seven Habits of Highly Successful Families” p 201-202 (cf p 244), Stephen Covey).


Covey makes the argument that couples must concentrate on understanding the other person before they can build solid and deep relationships. In other words, we must first seek to know what factors might cause us to see things differently – background, experience, gender, dispositions, personalities, etc). When we understand these things, we can adjust our expectations of each other accordingly. In fact, this lack of understanding is an underlying root of pain and problems in family relationships. 

Illustration: The first grade girl who would come home from school in tears because she couldn’t get subtraction. So the father spent an evening explaining the concept of subtraction and giving her a few problems to try. She still couldn’t  get it. Finally he lined up five apples on the table. Then he took away two apples. Suddenly her face lit up. She blurted out, “Oh, nobody told me we were doing take away”. No one had realized that she had no idea that “subtraction” meant “take away.” ! (p 206-207 Covey). 

Your spouse wants to know that you care about him/her. Once you establish this he/she will be more prone to open up and share true inner feelings. So, listen, shut-up, withhold judgement.

It is also important to realize the significance of being understood as well as understanding. In other words, each spouse has an obligation to be transparent with the other. This is the other side of the coin. You must make it easy for the other person to understand you as you seek to understand him/her! Therefore, you must grant the other person the right to give you feedback; and you must gladly receive it without a defensive reaction. And, you must learn how to give feedback without attacking the person but rather attacking the problem. Separate the person from the conduct.  We all have blind spots! 

At home application (How to get the most benefit from the class):

Discuss: Do you ever get to Level 1 communication? If not, why not? Is it important to get there? Why or why not?

Go over the list of communication obstructions together. Attempt to arrive at agreement regarding who has the greater tendency toward each item (husband, wife, both). Game plan how this might be fixed. 

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