“Speak in kindness instead of just ‘telling it like it is’.”
Have you ever been out in public and heard someone talking to their spouse in a way that made you wince? Like: “I cannot believe you forgot to bring the kids’ coats today! It’s freezing outside! What were you thinking?”
Most of us would never speak that way to our spouse in public. But how about at home, where nobody else can hear? Has an exasperated tone ever crept into your voice? When you are angry, hurt or frustrated, have you ever let it all pour out with no filter?
It is so easy to take a spouse for granted, and to take intimacy for license. We can subconsciously think. Since we’re married, I don’t have to be as careful to be polite. We have to love each other regardless, so I can just speak without thinking about how it is perceived.
It is easy to assume that – but it is poisonous to the relationship.
In the research, it was clear that instead of taking the most license, the happiest couples display the highest degree of kindness. Sure, they are honest and share the “real deal”, but they are also especially careful to do it in a way their mate will never perceive as hurtful. Sure, they joke around and razz each other, but never at the expense of their spouse’s real feelings.
Today, we often hear that “You have to be able to be brutally honest in marriage.” Yet the Word says that reckless words “pierce like a sword.” Instead of allowing brutal honesty to hurt our spouse, we can choose to discipline our tongue. There will be times when we need to have a hard conversation, but that is when we need to be the most careful to protect the heart of the person who means the most to us. That is when we need to be the most careful to not just speak the truth – but speak the truth in love.
So how should you address it with your spouse, that even when you ask, they don’t remember to do things like putting the kids’ coats in the car? Well, do unto others, right? How would you want them to share a concern with you, about an area where you have fallen short?
No matter what is going on in our lives, we can decide to be respectful of our spouses in public and in private. Even better, we can look for opportunities, every day, to be more like Christ towards our spouse, and speak words of life. Kindness should be a way of life in our marriages.
Dear Lord, teach me to discipline my tongue and my words. Help me to speak words of life and not words that hurt my spouse. Let kindness flow through our conversation together. Help me to be both honest AND loving when I speak. May our marriage be full of security in each other and You. Amen.