In Bill Whitehead’s comic strip, “Free Range,” a marriage counselor is mediating an obviously angry dispute between two poisonous snakes. She exhorts them, “Okay…both of you take a deep breath and try to talk to each other without the venom this time.” That is hard for snakes to do, but it is important for husbands and wives to heed such advice.
Stress, exhaustion, undisciplined emotion, hurt, mistrust, and fear can all be toxic ingredients in communication between marriage partners. Rivalry can rout relationship. Heaping hurts can hinder hearth and home.
The Bible stresses both that the husband love his wife (Eph. 5:25, 28; Col. 3:19) and that the wife love her husband (Tit. 2:4). Discussing the husband’s relationship to his wife, the Bible urges an attempt to understand her (1 Pet. 3:7), nourish and cherish her (Eph. 5:29), please her (1 Cor. 7:33), and be joined to her (Gen. 2:24). Discussing her relationship to him, God’s Word uses ideas like respect (Eph. 5:33), be subject (Eph. 5:22; Tit. 2:5), be submissive (1 Pet. 3:1), display chaste and respectful behavior (1 Pet. 3:2), and be kind (Tit. 2:5). There is not much wiggle room in these passages for verbal venom.
Next time you feel your rattler rising, remember who you are and what God expects of you. Then, take a moment to see your spouse for who they are and all they mean to you. You are friends (and lovers), not foes. You are heirs together of the grace of life (1 Pet. 3:7). That is enough to de-fang our discussions! Disagreements are inevitable. Destructiveness is iniquity.