Skip to main content

Words - The Seeds of Life in Marriage



Paul: Until recently, I figured it was fine for me to say whatever was on my mind as that meant I was being truthful and authentic with Stephanie. Then it dawned on me
that some of those words are hurtful and have the potential to wound her.

It now occurs to me that I don’t need to voice my less than enthusiastic opinion about a meal Stephanie has prepared or an outfit she has chosen. NEITHER of these things really matter and my comments might create distance between us and possibly hurt her. There are other situations, however, that I believe I should mention in order to be open and honest with her like: talking about the way she handled a situation with our children or how long one of our in-laws is coming to visit. These things do create strong feelings and can affect the quality of our relationship. We need to talk about them.

Steph: I agree with Paul wholeheartedly. The words we use can either be life-giving to our relationship or life-draining.  Just the other day, Paul was filling the ice cube tray from the water dispenser in the fridge. When I saw this I said, “What in the world?” as the water dribbled over the sides. What I was really saying was I would have done it differently - better actually. Paul looked at me and said, “I’ve got it.” I could tell from his tone that he did not appreciate my comment. My words caused a coolness to develop in our relationship. I realized later that even a few words spoken when I have an “I know best attitude” can be hurtful to Paul. I must be more mindful of the words I choose to say or simply choose not to say anything at all. Some dripping water certainly didn’t warrant a comment. 

When I choose words of affirmation when Paul has handled a situation well or I let him know how much I value his perspective I can see by the expression on his face and in the softer tone of his voice that he is pleased. This lightens the mood in our home. Words that chastise, reproach, correct, criticize, or condescend do not belong in our relationship. And there is no place for sarcastic words between us – ever. Here a few examples of the types of words and phrases we strive to eliminate from our relationship vocabulary, “You always/never…”, “I wish you wouldn’t…”, “That’s not right,” “What were you thinking?” “Why would you say/do that?”

Paul: As for the words we DO choose, we look for ways to build each other up. These are simple and easy phrases like, “I appreciate…” “Thank you for…” “You’re so good at…” “I admire…” These are things we can say to each other on a DAILY basis. And when we DO need to discuss a point of contention or disagreement between us, we are intentional and conscious of the words we choose to broach the subject: “When you have a moment, I would like to discuss x with you.” “I think we have a different point of view on x and I would like the opportunity to understand your point of view more clearly.” “Perhaps this is a topic we agree needs further discussion between us.” 

Being intentional about not using hurtful words and equally as intentional about using affirming words doesn’t mean we don’t express ourselves when there is an issue we need to discuss. Rather, it means we are intentional about the words we choose to broach the subject. It means the difference between draining the life out of our marriage or breathing life into it.

Comments

Other Popular Posts

3 Steps to End the Bickering

  Even the best marriages succumb to nit-picking over how to do the laundry or load the dishwasher.  We differ over asking or not asking for directions and bicker over who's to blame for being late or how we spend money.  While these quarrels may seem trivial, in reality, they matter and getting to a solution beats bickering any day.

April 19th

MICHELLE : For many people, distinct moments in their life stand out as frozen memories.  For example, my dad can remember the smells, the sounds and the clothes he was wearing on the day that John F. Kennedy was shot.  For me, that moment came on April 19, 1995.  I was a student teacher in Norman, Oklahoma.  As I used the restroom early that morning, I heard a loud boom and then tiles began coming loose one by one off the wall onto my lap.  Rushing out of the restroom and back to the classroom, my mentor teacher and I prepared for what we assumed was an earthquake. 

Ready for a Marriage Check-up?

If someone asks, “How’s your marriage?” how would you answer? It’s hard to give an objective answer. This week, we offer a short quiz you can take to evaluate how things are going in your marriage.   Before we can move toward the goal of a better marriage, we need to know where we are currently.  Doing this Marriage Check-up exercise helped us take stock of how we were doing. Here’s what we learned... 

KFC - It's What's for Mother's Day!

 JULIE: Dandelion bouquets.  Homemade breakfast in bed.  Handmade cards splashed with crayon hearts.  Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Wait, what? Let me explain…  Growing up, Mother’s Day was my mom’s annual day off, her well-deserved reward for all she did the other 364 days of the year.   It was also the one day of the year that she didn’t have to figure out what to cook for dinner for 7 hungry mouths. We always got a bucket of KFC, a rare and welcome treat.

5 Things Men Want

1. RESPECT: (KEN) : When a man is asked, 'Would you rather be respected or loved?' most would choose being respected.  In his book Love and Respect , Dr. E. Eggerichs explains this tendency.   (JANINE) : For years, I didn't appreciate how important it was to Ken that I treat him with respect.  I also didn't understand how hurtful it was when I dis respected him.  When I show Ken respect ( by affirming his decisions,  avoiding sarcasm or by not using a demeaning tone) it translates (for him) into feeling 'loved.'  Another way to say this is: when a man is dis respected, he receives the message he is NOT loved. 2.  SEX:  

7 Tips to Improve Your Sex Life

Is sex a priority in your marriage? Sexuality is an important ingredient for a healthy marriage. Here are 7 tips to help....

8 Misunderstandings That Are Hurting Your Sex Life

Why are we writing about sex again?  Sex in marriage is more important than most people think.  It's mysterious. There are a lot of "layers" and complexities to this whole topic.... read on... 

The 5 "P's" of Constructive Feedback

Photo Credit:  Ian Schneider (Reprise of post originally published on 09-16-2019) We once read an article on criticism in marriage.  The Author's bottom line was "don't do it."  Even asking: "Can I give you some feedback?" was cautioned against.  Sometimes suggestions given with the best intent with regard to work, chores, relationships with the kids can back fire.  Think back seat driving.  Experience has taught us 5 Key Points for when we just want to give each other a little suggestion.  These 5 simple points set the tone and enable us to let down our defenses and be supportive of each other when offering a little constructive feedback.   

What Can’t You Afford to Edit out of Your Story?

Michelle: When I was a teenager, I remember coming home after breaking up with a guy and my dad asking me how it went. I gave the inevitable teenage response, “I don’t want to talk about it.” My dad responded, “You don’t have to. But you do need to remember that there are some things in life that you can’t afford to edit out of your story. Is this one of them?”

10 Things Women Want

1)  Learn her “Love Language :"   And speak it often! (Learn more:  What Language Are You Speaking? ) Janine’s love language is “Acts of Service.” So, when I vacuum or do dishes or cook, it fills up her ‘love tank' - her mood brightens and there’s a whole different vibe between us.   I can tell I’ve found a direct path to her heart.