Verbally Putting Down Spouse – Marriage Message #273
Remind the people… to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men (Titus 3:2).
In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice… Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind (1 Peter 2:11).
The above words are great ones to live by aren’t they? But they’re sure difficult to live out —especially when our spouse “pushes our buttons” or we’re in a downright cranky mood.
The Bible tells us to be careful with our words –not to slander, be inconsiderate or malicious in the way we say things to each other. No matter how hard we look, there doesn’t seem to be any special clauses written into these biblical warnings giving us the right to spout off “corrupt talk” (referred to in Ephesians 4:29-32), no matter what the reason. Even if our spouse says or does something we find offensive, that doesn’t give us the right to that which is wrong.
To help fight against the verbal battles that go on in marriages, we found an article written by Dr Scott Haltzman, featured on the (secular) Hitchedmag.com web site, which might help. Dr Haltzman doesn’t approach this subject from a biblical standpoint but his words are wise, none-the-less, and you may find them helpful. Please prayerfully read what he has written, asking the Lord to teach you what you specifically need to learn concerning this issue:
WHY DO I VERBALLY PUT DOWN MY SPOUSE?
-Written by Dr Scott Haltzman
Q: Anytime I get angry towards my wife, I find myself cutting her down verbally. Can you help me put a stop to it?
A: When a man and woman exchange rings on the altar, they do so with the hopes of a marriage filled with joy and satisfaction. As they turn and walk through the aisle, they anticipate a storybook ending of a life filled with only good things. And for a while, that’s the way things are —then the words fly.
In all relationships, we seek happiness. We often look to our partner as the main conduit to our peace of mind. We figure that if our wife or husband were wise enough, strong enough and resourceful enough, they’d figure out what we need and meet them without hesitation. After all, he or she did that when we were dating, right?
Feeling angry in your marriage is a sign that your needs aren’t being met. You assume that your desires are reasonable and frankly, any reasonable person should be able to meet them. In some cases, you may have a need to be heard. In others, it might be the need for words of support or appreciation. Sometimes you might need physical touch. These are things you can’t give yourself and as far as you’re concerned, if your partner isn’t up to the task, he or she has let you down.
This type of disappointment, especially if it happens repeatedly, leads to resentment. And resentment is the birthplace of anger. As you get more upset, it’s only a matter of time until it affects the way you treat your spouse. Put-downs are an expression of anger. Not only do you hurt your spouse, but being nasty ultimately boomerangs back toward you —you end up feeling ashamed and angry with yourself for your behavior. This starts the cycle all over again: as you feel the anger mounting, you blame your partner for it, leading to more resentment, more anger and more putdowns.
Ironically, when you resort to putting down your mate, you end up getting less of what you want out of the relationship because he or she pulls away. There are ways to stop the cycle of anger and resentment, though:
Adjust Your Expectations: Studies show the happiest couples in marriage go into it with realistic expectations. Anticipating that your partner will meet all of your needs all of the time is a sure way to fuel resentment.
Give: Instead of seeing marriage as a place to get all your needs met, view your relationship as a place where you can learn how to give generously. The odds are, if you selflessly focus your attention on pleasing your partner, over time he or she will work to make you happy.
Demonstrate Compassion: Empathic caring is the antidote for resentment. When you’re filled with nurturing thoughts for your partner, it’s virtually impossible to intentionally hurt him or her. By giving the gift of compassion, you can form stronger bonds and a more loving, life-long connection.
Accept Responsibility: When you lose it and say hurtful things, it’s human nature to blame someone else for “making me feel this way.” You, and only you, are responsible for your actions, and your reactions in marriage. You’ve got the power to make your marriage spectacular; don’t permit yourself to make it anything less than that.
The road from wedding day bliss to long-term happiness has many bumps, but when you treat your partner with compassion and refrain from spitting venom when angry, you’ll make it through the rough times with dignity, respect and a deeper love for each other.
We hope this helps in some way. It’s important for us to realize that when we give into our impulses to say contemptuous words, it’s as if we throw acidic poison, or “venom” at our spouse. It is the sulfuric acid of contempt that can eat away at the love we can have for each other.
We wish we could give more information within this Marriage Message to help you, but please know that we have several linked articles posted below and additional articles posted in the Communication and Conflict topic, and the Save My Marriage topic, as well as the Abuse in Marriage topic (if you are on the receiving end of verbal or other abuse in your marriage).
If you need them, we hope they will help and pray the Holy Spirit, our “Wonderful Counselor,” will guide you, as you look to Him to lead you.
It’s important to keep in mind the Biblical warnings we are given, concerning the words we use:
“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37).
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ALSO —
A related article, written by Gary Sinclair, may be helpful for you to read:
Dr David Hawkins calls these buttons “hot spots.” To learn more about these hot spots and how to work with them, you may find it helpful to read:
Lastly, there is a book that Steve and I have been reading, which could help you to better understand yourself and your spouse and the way you react to each other and various situations in your marriage. We’re sure learning some things. I believe for those who can obtain this book, you would find it to be insightful and helpful as you read it, pray about it, and apply what you learn. Here’s a description of it and a link to possibly obtaining it:
• How We Love -written by Milan and Kay Yerkovich, published by Water Brook. The authors of this book “draw on the tool of an attachment theory to show how your early life experiences created an ‘intimacy imprint’ —an underlying blueprint that shapes your behavior, beliefs, and expectations of all relationships, especially your marriage. They identify four types of imprints that combine in marriage to trap couples in a repetitive dance of pain. The principles and solution-focused tools in this book will equip you to… – identify the imprints disrupting your marriage - understand how your love style impacts your mate – break free of negative patterns that hinder your relationship – enhance your intimacy, and – create a deeper, richer marriage.”