This is part two of a series on communication in your marriage by Pastor Steve Carr. Part one can be found here.
2. Check your words. Once you have examined your attitudes or the way you talk, now consider what you say. What kind of words do you use?
Do you use harsh words? Do you possess the skill to cut and slash your spouse verbally in the midst of an argument? If so, you may win the argument and be daily destroying your relationship. Solomon said, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). David also said the tongue can be like “a sharp razor” that can cut and wound a person very deeply (Psalm 52:2). Is this what your tongue is like?
Harsh, condemning words are incredibly destructive. Think how you feel when a person condemns or belittles you. Doesn’t it drive you away from that individual and make you want to retreat? If you speak this way to your spouse you will see the same results. Paul specifically commanded husbands, “… love your wives and do not be harsh with them”(Colossians 3:19). Likewise, this command could be equally given to wives. Clearly then, the husband-wife relationship cannot thrive with the use of harsh words.
Another class of words that must be avoided involves lying or deceitfulness, which slowly undermine your entire relationship. If you are deceitful and tell only half the story or a doctored version that makes you look good, sooner or later your spouse will catch on. Trust is fundamental to your entire relationship, but lies and half-truths will eventually undermine your credibility. Any amount of lying to your spouse is like taking an ax to the bottom of your own boat, it will ultimately sink the ship.
If you struggle with lying or deceitfulness, pray what David did, “Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips and from a deceitful tongue” (Psalsm 120:2). Do what Paul commanded; “Therefore, putting away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25). As a married couple, you are members one of another in every sense of the word; you are one flesh. Don’t lie to one another.
Similarly, exaggeration works to destroy effective communication. Are you an exaggerator? Do you hear yourself say these words, “you always do this”, or “you never do what I ask?” The words always, never, or every time are like gasoline on the fire of an argument. These words will cause an explosion of anger because your spouse can always think of one time he or she did do what you say never occurs. The only solution to exaggeration is “…speaking the truth in love…” (Ephesians 4:15). The truth may be that your spouse many times does this or that, as opposed to always or never.
As we strive to speak the truth, let us remember to speak the truth in love, for certain words of truth can also greatly hinder your communication. I am referring to the true statements about your spouse’s past failures which you bring up to use as ammunition during a conflict. These words cut deep, specifically because they are true, but they are words that should never be used to win an argument. If you have forgiven your spouse for a past failure, then it should be off-limits. Why? Because God talks about your sins this way: “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12). The word remember means “to hold in a mental grasp or to recollect so that it may be used at a later time to punish.” God declares here that once He forgives, He chooses not to remember your sins and will never use them to condemn you; we must forgive in the same manner. Therefore, speak the truth about the present issue only.
Finally, foul language also tears down good communication. I have discovered that many couples swear and call one another names in the midst of an argument. If this occurs in your home, understand that these words will not be easily forgotten because they demean your spouse and signify your lack of love and respect. Once you have said these words, you can’t take them back. This is why Paul said, “…you must also put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth” (Colossians 3:8). He also said, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). Don’t tear your loved one down, but build him or her up when you speak. Ask God to put that check in your mind before you open your mouth. Pray as David did, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my mouth” (Psalm 141:3). God will answer this prayer.
If you would like more information on the marriage ministry of Pastor Steve Carr or his book Married and How To Stay That Way, visit Covenant Keepers