Scripture Focus: Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you. Ephesians 4:29
It matters how we talk about our marriage partner. When our words are critical and negative, we may be doing far more damage than we realize.
Early in our marriage we spent time around an older couple that bickered constantly. Their communication style involved constant criticizing, sarcastic put-downs, and biting comments about the other person’s defects and deficiencies.
It was so difficult to be around them! Over time, we watched many other couples pull away from the bickering pair, not willing to witness their conversational wars. We tried the opposite approach: Spending more time with them, in order to model a much different communication style.
As we work with couples, often a husband will say something profoundly unhelpful to his wife such as, “You’d have to be a complete idiot to believe that!” Or perhaps a wife will say to her husband, “You never help me around the house. You never do anything!”
In the midst of emotions and arguments, it’s easy for harmful words to slip out. The problem with words is this: It is extremely difficult to un-say whatever you’ve yelled or shouted in the midst of a big fight. The impact of your harmful words can linger long after the immediate battle is over.
Paul explains to the Ephesians that what we say – really matters. He advises all of us to avoid using harmful words – which is great advice for anyone who is married, and who wants to help their marriage go from striving to thriving.
For your personal reflection:
Prayer: Lord, You know that in the heat of the moment I can often say the wrong thing. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I would like to experience a lot more self-control. I’d like to stay calm. I’d like to be a whole lot wiser in how I speak to my marriage partner. Please help me do better.