Words are powerful, and if life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21); how much more awareness do we need in conversations with our spouse?
I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve spoken to Ryan without really thinking about what I was saying or how I was saying it. (Yep, we’re going there.)
I’ll let you in on a little secret about him (yes, I have his permission). Tone is everything. He will hear how you say something before actually hearing what you say. Definitely a blessing and a challenge.
In the beginning…
Before Ryan and I dated, we were friends. We believed in the same values and morals; we enjoyed the same activities and had the same group of friends. In a nutshell, communication came easy – we could practically finish each other’s sentences in our first year of marriage. As time went on, we began finding communication slightly more difficult.
Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt
A familiar scenario to married couples might look something like this: he says something to try and “help” her. He does it out of complete innocence. He’s just being a loving husband and trying to help…
She starts to read into “it” (ladies, you know what I’m talking about). Before you know it, both are simmering with agitation. He doesn’t know why she’s mad, and she’s mad at him because he should know?! Right?
We have all been there. For us wives, it’s so much more than words. It’s how it’s communicated.
Ryan wrote it beautifully on Facebook: “Husbands: It’s your job to know how to talk to your wife and communicate in a way that edifies and uplifts her! Logic and reason mean nothing if it’s not communicated in love.”
True love is present when the feelings are absent. In Ryan’s post, “Until Death Do Us Part” he talks about how there’s no better time to love your spouse then when you don’t feel like it.
And how quickly and easily the harsh words come flooding out to our spouse.
Of course there are days where I don’t feel like communicating lovingly. In fact, I deliberately communicate harshly to get a point across (transparency!)
After I’ve had my (not-so) brilliant moment I typically feel convicted and need to spend some time going to God, asking for forgiveness and grace. Then going to Ryan and groveling (just kidding).
To speak and how to speak, that is the question
I’m constantly reminded that honoring and respecting Ryan in how I communicate to him cannot be rooted in duty.
It MUST be rooted in love. A love that stems from understanding the simple and powerful message of the gospel; that grace and love were poured out for us through the work that Jesus Christ did on the cross.
Otherwise selfishness becomes the motivation and honor and respect go out the window.
Soon after selfishness sets in and you’re saying what you want, when you want and however you want, you risk leaving your spouse’s heart trampled, broken and distant.
True, authentic, 1 Corinthians 13 love is not selfish. It can’t be.
The love God calls us to have for our spouse requires a true understanding of salvation.
We can only love because He (Christ) first loved us (1 John 4:19) and it’s only by His grace that we communicate to our spouses with that same love.
When the opportunity comes, as it surely will, to choose your words out of love or selfishness – pause and listen for the Holy Spirit. He is faithful to lead you in what to say, how to say it and when.
As John and Stasi Eldredge wrote in their book, Love & War, “Marriage is a divine conspiracy designed by God for our transformation.” Communication is one of the many areas that we need to allow God to transform us to be more like Him. Loving, kind, compassionate and selfless.