Is your communication seasoned with salt or salty?

Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Colossians 4:6

Communication is a major problem in many marriages — maybe even in most! It is a subject we regularly deal with in premarital counseling and in marriage counseling.

Premarital Counseling

Discussing communication in premarital counseling is instructive and preventative. We want to learn how the couple interacts both verbally and with non-verbal communication. At this stage of their relationship, it is common for the couple to be aglow with love and acceptance of each other. They are basking in emotional love and, typically, not willing to concentrate on problematic communication issues. Her chattiness is cute, his extended silences are contemplative. They “fight nice” and gloss over patterns that become problematic after the honeymoon is over.

Marriage Counseling

When husband and wife come for marriage counseling, usually our goal is restorative. By this point, couples needing help often have salty communication. You probably know that salt can be corrosive. Those who live in a winter climate know that salt eats away at cars and driveways. While it helps keep us from falling on ice and crashing our cars, we also want to remove it as soon as we can to prevent damage. Salty communication can also be harmful and even hurtful. Perhaps ugly words are hurled at one another, terrible things are said in the heat of the moment. Non-verbal communication can also be corrupt; this looks like doors being slammed, eyes are rolled, or arms are crossed. One of the newer methods of corrupt communication is reams of text messages with hateful content.

Not only do we need to learn where their communication is corrupt, we also need to teach them what biblical communication looks like. In this process, it is common for us to deliver a biblical rebuke for sinful actions. By this time couples that come for marriage counseling are irritated and annoyed with each other, and those things that once were so appealing are now sources of conflict. They are at a communication standstill.

What They Really Mean

We have found that people who say they want help with communication really want their spouse or fiancé to better suit their desires. Much of the time, they are busy looking at their partner and not at their own sinful or salty methods of communication. We will commonly refer them to Matthew 7:3–5 and have them complete homework on the logs in their own eye in their communication struggles with their partner.

Seasoned With Salt

We teach all our couples to have communication that is seasoned with salt. Salt is a preservative used in food to keep it from spoiling. When appropriate communication is taking place, it preserves the unity in the relationship, clears up misunderstandings, clarifies expectations, expresses emotions and feelings, and reveals the thoughts and intentions of the heart. It keeps the interactions open and transparent between the couple. Biblical communication is primarily others oriented. This doesn’t mean that a person’s thoughts, beliefs, and desires are not expressed, it means that these thoughts and intentions of the heart are communicated to the partner in ways that are not demanding or selfish. Couples that make use of the communication principles they learn in biblical counseling go on to have successful marriages.

Communication Self-Examination

If you are someone who is struggling with communication issues in your relationship, might I suggest that you begin by examining how you communicate with your partner? Be conscious of the words that you use and the tone in which you speak to him or her. Study 1 Corinthians 13:1–7 and ask the Lord to help you to be very conscious if you communicate in a patient and kind manner. Ask him to reveal to you through the Holy Spirit if you are arrogant and rude, irritable or resentful as you talk to your spouse or fiancé.

If you realize you have these negative characteristics in communication, resolve to work on the heart issues that are fueling them. Spend time in Scripture studying passages like Ephesians 4:29; James 1:19; Psalm 19:14; Proverbs 10:19; Proverbs 18:20–21. There are literally hundreds of verses in the Bible that address the various forms of communication and it is certain that you could use work in at least one of them. There is no time like the present to begin addressing the issues of your own heart that have brought you to the place of being salty in your communications. It will only help your relationships, and most importantly, it will bring great glory to God.