Thursday, July 2, 2009
Making It 30 Years and Beyond - Our Words
Sadly, many people think just the opposite. They excuse destructive or hurtful words with comments like, “Well, that’s just the way Jon is. He blows up and then 30 minutes later he’s fine.” Or they believe that for some reason the other person will understand that they really didn’t mean it. If they didn’t mean it, why was it said?
You see, I’m confident that we all know better. We might cover up for our angry, threatening, degrading words or those of others, but deep down inside hurtful words hurt! Perhaps they’re not said that often or in great quantity each time but over the years they add up and emotional bruises and scars eventually appear and the bonds of a great marriage weaken.
What’s the antidote? First of all, commit to avoiding words of death. No, our words would not typically cause physical death but they have a way of injuring our personhood. When we hear enough criticism, name calling or other forms of contempt, we can begin to think we really don’t matter, at least to the other person, and our confidence and joy in the relationship begin to fade away.
Words of death typically attack the other person’s character. “I can’t believe you are so stupid.” Or, “you’re just like your father,” or “you never change, do you?” What we’re really saying is that the other person is unacceptable to us and in reality can never be any different.” Often we’re merely modeling what we heard at home or demanding that we must have our own way, but in the end we’re in the process of degrading another person and probably losing our relationship.
Second, do the opposite – speak more words of life. There’s an old joke about a woman who asked her husband, “Why don’t you say ‘I love you’ to me any more?” To which he replied, “I told you that when we got married and I figured you still knew it.” Not really that funny, is it? Say I love you, you matter to me, I’m proud of you, thank you for all you do, and the like often. The more words of life you add to your relationship the less damage a slip of the tongue or bad moment here and there will do.
In fact, how about this phrase being said now and then? If I had it to do over again I’d choose you!
Third, learn how to communicate in a healthy way when you do disagree or have a conflict. Having a great marriage doesn’t mean you’ll never argue, have unique preferences or come to an impasse. But in those times there are ways to talk to one another still using words of life and not causing significant damage that will keep you from fixing the problem anyway. I’ll talk more about that in my next post.
Have a great 4th of July. And speak some words of life as you celebrate!