Is there a spouse anywhere in the world that can claim they never use careless words? It seems to be a given, that we all use careless words at sometime in our marriage. There are times when those careless words are just stupid. We say something that we didn’t think through before opening our mouth. It was dumb; but we really didn’t mean any harm by it. We just didn’t think it through beforehand. It’s out; and hopefully, we’re able to smooth things over quickly. (Or it could be that our spouse just chocks it up to a harmless event. And then they give us grace by overlooking it.)
But other times it goes beyond that point. We say things that deeply hurt our spouse and our relationship. Many times we don’t realize it will hurt our spouse. We just let those careless words fall out of our mouth without realizing the damage they can do. Other times we just throw those words out there like a hand grenade. We want to hurt our spouse. We want to let him or her “have it” when we’re angry about a particular situation.
Confessing to Using Careless Words
Once again, this is confession time. Yes, we have done both of those things. Sometimes we have said dumb things. And other times we have said hurtful things—either mindlessly, or on purpose. Sadly, in the 48 years we have been married (on March 18) we have thrown a lot of careless words back and forth at each other. We’re better about this than we were earlier in our marriage. But we still fall into that trap at times. Oh, how we wish we could say we didn’t!
Now, I do have to say that our careless words never stepped over the line of being abusive. But they probably came close at times. Yelling and screaming can be considered abusive to some people. I consider it to be abusive. But the next person may think that it is just being “passionate” about the issue. It’s a matter of perspective.
What matters the most is what your spouse thinks about this. If your spouse thinks your words or your tone is abusive, then you need to work that out. Marriage is all about partnership. It’s partnership with God and with each other. And being abusive has nothing to do with partnering. It is one person taking severe advantage of the other.
And at this point in history, being careful of our words is all the more important. A lot of us are spending more time within our homes than we have had to do in the past. The Coronavirus has sent a lot of people home. Some are ill; but most are not. And when we spend so much time together, with scary situations happening around us, there can be frayed nerves. Please be more mindful of your words, attitudes, and actions. Lets act like partners rather than opponents. Lets help to support one another as Christ would have us.
Recently, a young friend told me that God had convicted her about the way she sometimes spoke to her husband. He caused her to see that at times she was directing careless words at her husband. And even though they weren’t abusive words, they were still hurtful. God let her know that she needed to stop and make some changes. He got her attention, and she has been faithful to confess, repent, and work to change that type of behavior.
In all that she shared, several things spoke to me. And we believe they will speak to you. So, here are a few thoughts that God brought to her mind during their quiet time together:
Careful, Not Careless Words
• Careless words cause division. It causes divisions between a husband and a wife that have a rippling effect to hurt them and others (such as the children). Here is the scripture that God gave that emphasizes that fact: “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” (Mark 3:24-25)
• If you’re not gathering with one another, you are scattering. By using careless words you are participating with the enemy in scattering the family. … Here are the scriptures God used to back up that statement. Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me; and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30)
• “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good; and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you; on the Day of Judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be justified; and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:35-37)
This sure applies to marriage. When we use careless words (dumb or abusive) we cause a type of separation between us. In itself, that has a scattering effect on the unity of our home.
Plus, God pointed out to my friend (and now, us):
• How can you approach life as a united couple unless you walk together in agreement? It won’t have the same impact if you are divided, and scattered. … Here is the underlying principle God gives in the Bible: “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (Amos 3:3)
More Thoughts on Careless Words
Steve and I have been talking a lot about this issue since my friend shared this God-given insight. So, here are a few more thoughts we want to share that also spoke to us. We pray they speak to and minister to you:
• “We should realize that like dropping a fine piece of china, words can break someone; and no matter how well your gluing abilities are the china is now just a broken glued plate. Be careful what you say…think first.” (Archie Spangler) “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18)
True isn’t it? Here’s another statement we believe is true and important to try to follow:
• “You’ve heard it said that one negative statement carries the same emotional weight as seven positive ones. Whether the number is true or not, you can shift the atmosphere in your marriage with your words. Your words have the power to bring life and light into dark circumstances. What you say can create forward momentum in your marriage. Make it a habit to speak ten positive, affirming and kind statements for every negative one.” (Scott Means, from the Surrenderedmarriage.org article, “Power of Positive Speaking)
And then here is another tip to consider using when you’re tempted to use careless words:
• “I recently thought about some filters our words should have to pass through before they come out of our mouths. If they don’t make it through all of these 5 filters, then they probably should never be spoken:
1. Do I have good motives? Is my reason for saying it beneficial to my spouse? Or are they only for selfish purposes? … 2. Does it build my spouse up? Words are not neutral. They either tear down or build up. They are either hurtful or helpful. … 3. Is it confidential? … 4. If my spouse were present, would they be pleased with my words? You’ve heard this one before, but it’s always worth remembering. We should always honor our spouse whether they are with us or not. … 5. Is it true? Truth trumps all. If it’s not true, don’t say it.” (Mark Merrill, gleaned from the Happywivesclub.com article, “5 Ways to Filter What You Say to Your Spouse”)
Now, if you need further clarification about careless words that are being thrown within your marriage, here are a few articles we recommend you read:
And if you want to look even further into the abuse issue, please read what you can in our Abuse in Marriage topic.
Just make sure that what you say will ‘benefit’ your marital relationship. Ask yourself, “what difference will this thing we’re fighting about make in ten years? In one year or even a month?” Consider if it’s even important. If not, drop it.
And again, in this tenuous time in our world’s history with the Coronavirus, lets make an extra effort to be kind to one another. Actually, we should always be kind to one another. But it’s especially important at this time. Try to give each other grace. Be kind. You never know what will happen to each other from one day to the next. You just don’t want to live with regrets.
With every word that comes out of our mouths, may we be intentional in using kind, careful words, rather than careless ones! Above all, remember:
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that they may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
If you are not a subscriber to the Marriage Insights (emailed out weekly)
and you would like to receive them directly, click onto the following:
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Marriage Insights