Proverbs is packed with scripture regarding the tongue. In fact, every time I read it I feel myself sinking a little bit lower in my chair. Instead of flogging myself, I try to rest in the forgiveness I have in Jesus. I know my good behavior isn’t what pleases God. But it inspires me and convicts me to think twice before letting my words fly out of my mouth.
If it’s important to guard biting words while interacting with the general public, how much more should we do this in our marriages?
Over the past twenty-five years, I’ve learned that my opinion matters to my husband. Even if I think he’s not listening, he is. Sometimes I share my feelings just for the sake of getting things off my chest, but here is the problem: my husband is a problem solver. So if I vent to him, he tries to find a solution. And if there is no solution, he feels like a failure. If he feels like a failure, he gets crabby, and if he gets crabby, I complain more. It’s the marriage version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.
So, sometimes I reserve some of my venting just for God, because He isn’t going to bat an eye while I worry and fret. And most of the time, I’m not expecting a huge answer, I just need to communicate and move on.
Here are 10 ways I have learned to communicate kindly:
1. Don’t be stingy with encouraging words because they can make a tough situation easier.
2. Let the small things go. Don’t nitpick the way your spouse does household chores. Just say, “Thanks.”
3. Cheer him on. Your husband actually wants to know that you are his biggest fan.
4. Don’t die on every hill. Little arguments will come up often. Who cares who is right? Do you want to be right or happy?
5. Smile more. Lift your eyebrows while you are at it, because it’s proven to make others less defensive. (I threw that tip in for free. )
6. Say thank you. We are all working hard. It’s so nice to be thanked for our efforts. It makes me want to keep at it when my husband thanks me.
7. Complain wisely. Sometimes things need to be discussed. But not every little annoyance needs attention. Choose the most important dilemmas to hash out. Nobody wants to hear negativity all the day long.
8. Cushion criticism. Say something positive before and after the negative comment.
9. Empathize. Try to see a different perspective. It can change the whole tone of a disagreement. Imagine what your spouse is feeling and going through.
10. Pray for wisdom. We all need this in our marriages. While reading Proverbs for taming the tongue, you will also learn the value of wisdom.
“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.” —Proverbs 3:1-3
I’m not saying that I have to be Susie Sunshine at all times, but boy it helps. He takes my words to heart, and I am thankful for that. So I have to guard that gift carefully.