The last two blogs have looked at God’s guidelines for communicating with your spouse: The power of the tongue and the importance of harnessing that power as well as the importance of starting with a right heart attitude. If you missed these posts, you can find them here (Part 1 and Part 2).
The Bible also has much to say about the actual words that come out of our mouths.
Think before you speak.
Proverbs 15:28 tells us: “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.” Think of a recent—somewhat emotional—conversation you’ve had with your spouse. Evaluate it. Did you think about what you were going to say before you said it or did you “gush evil?” Now ask God if he agrees with your analysis.
Choose gentle, affirming words.
Did you carefully select gentle, affirming words or words that have been known to trigger or escalate an argument? The Bible uses helpful adjectives to describe what kind of words we should use. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:4 tells us, “The soothing tongue is a tree of life . . .” Proverbs 16:24 instructs, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” So—gentle, soothing, gracious words are the ones we should be choosing. This should be a good starting checklist as we ponder our responses.
Cut down on the criticism.
As you evaluate recent conversations with your spouse, what percentage left them feeling loved by you and good about themselves? It’s easy to be critical of our mate’s flaws. They’re human (like us) and have plenty of them. But doing so will not improve your relationship. Romans 15:7 says we are to, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” God has a lot He could criticize about us, but He doesn’t. Can we extend some of that grace to our spouse?
Speak the truth in love.
Ephesians 4:15 tells us to “speak the truth in love.” I’ve always thought this is a very hard verse to follow. I can speak the truth all right. And I can speak lovingly. But telling the whole truth in a completely loving way??? That’s hard. And yet, that’s what God asks us to do. Do you tend to err more on one side as I do?
Many teachers on Christian marriage have excellent advice on communicating with your spouse. But this must be the foundation: Understand the power of your words. Make sure your motivation is right. And choose your words carefully before you open your mouth.