This week’s Marriage Message is on the subject of Six Powerful Words. Of course we all know that there are more than six powerful words that become impactful words when we say them. Actually most of our words cause an impact, one way or another, when spoken.
There isn’t a day that goes by that my husband Steve and I don’t say, “I love you” to each other. Those three words never lose its impact on me. I try never to take them for granted. And I try never to be stingy in saying them to him or others, who I love.
There’s one thing my brother and I always do. We didn’t even realize it until recently. We make a point of saying, “I love you” as our last words we say before leaving each other.
My brother pointed this out to me a month ago or so. He didn’t want me to feel obligated to say it back to him when he says it to me. He said that when our mom died he realized that the last thing he said to her was, “I love you.” He said when he realized that, it made him feel good that his last words were loving.
What’s funny about this is that those were the last words I said to my mom too. And they were the last ones she said to me. (My brother wasn’t even there when we said them to each other.) Since that day (and even before) I’ve also made a point of saying “I love you” as parting words to my husband. I also say them to our sons and grandchildren and those I love. My brother and I had the same goal and didn’t even know it.
Hurtful Impactful Words
I’ve heard some pretty bad stories about loved ones exchanging harsh and hurtful words. Then one of them dies and the one still left on earth feels the remorse for the rest of his or her life. He or she wishes that they could take back their words. They wish they could exchange them for loving ones.
What about you? Have you considered this whole concept? It is a grim one, but it’s also real life. There is a lot of power in our words. Not just saying the words,”I love you,” but others, as well —which I’m sure you know.
I came across the following Youtube clip, which I encourage you to consider:
God’s word in James 1:26 comes to mind:
“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.“
Edifying Impactful Words
As it pertains to marriage, you don’t have to “own” your spouse’s words. But you do own that, which comes out of your mouth. You can’t make your spouse speak words that are edifying, as we’re told to do in Ephesians 4:29-32. But you can and should work on controlling what you speak. We’re reminded in those verses:
“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 it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.“
Concerning the “issue with words,” here’s a few additional thoughts I gleaned from a few web sites and the Bible on ways you can better use your words. Please read through these them and see what you can and should apply to the way in which you speak.
Prayerfully Consider that:
♥ “Confronting is certainly part of a healthy marriage. But confronting is about making the marriage stronger, not tearing down another person. It focuses first on God’s aim for your marriage, which is an intimate connection. When you start aiming for that and believing that, change happens. When you start despairing about your marriage, can you take that thought, hold it up to God, and ask, ‘what’s your perspective here? What are the promises you have given me?'” (Sheila Wray Gregoire, from the Tolovehonorandvacuum.com article, “Marital Success is a Matter of Attitude”)
♥ “If there are any unresolved issues, apologize for any hurt feelings that may have occurred as a result of you. Drop assumptions at the door. Then discuss the true issue. Remember, it’s important for all parties to feel like they are being heard. Use the rules of active listening. Repeat what you hear to make sure there isn’t a kink in the line of communication. Then share your feelings in a way that isn’t accusatory. Don’t forget to keep your voices low. Yelling only creates tension.” (Carol Hatcher, from Growthtrac.com article, “Recycle Your Marriage”)
♥ “All of us feel overwhelmed or discouraged at times. When you see your spouse in that predicament instead of reminding him that he needs to work harder to climb the ladder of success or poking a finger at her struggle to juggle the demands of kids, the house and work, choose to comfort them with grace and love. God allows us to experience trials for many reasons. But one of them is because he wants us to reach out with compassion and understanding to others.” [That especially pertains to our spouse.] (April Motl, from Crosswalk.com article, “Making Your Marriage a Safe Place”)
♥ “Happy couples complain with impact. When you have a complaint, say what you do want, not what you don’t want. For example, rather than saying to your mate, ‘Get off that computer. You’re so rude!’ instead target your mate using a positive approach. ‘I miss your company. Can you join me in the living room to hang out?'” (Laurie Puhn, from Foxnews.com article, “10 Truths About Happy Marriages”)
♥ “A word aptly spoken, is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11)
♥ “Encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
♥ “Encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13-14)
♥ “Learn to exit or repair an argument before it gets out of control. Use humor. Also, make it clear you’re on common ground (‘this is our problem’).” (Dr John Gottman)
♥ “Live in harmony with one another. Be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9)
Do you want to inherit a blessing? Use your words and the situations in which you are to use them wisely.
Use Words to Defuse
In marriage, “If an argument gets too heated, take a 20 minute break. Then agree to approach the topic again when you are both calm.” (Dr John Gottman) Don’t allow the problem to get between you so you forget that the object of marriage is to be in partnership with each other. Don’t let it divide you so that it chips away at your commitment. Remember, you vowed to “love, honor, and cherish” one another for the rest of your lives.
When an argument starts to get out of control between you and your spouse, look for ways to defuse the situation. You can then come back and work on the problem again in a more honoring way. Even if you have to revisit the same problem a dozen or more times, commit to working on it. Do this until you can control it together —rather than having it control you. Don’t allow it to divide you in marital partnership.
Again, you don’t have to “own” your spouse’s words. But you do own that, which comes out of your mouth. Please keep in mind that how you live your life DOES make a difference. It’s actions AND words that reveals what’s in your heart. You communicate the gospel with and without words outside of your home and within it.
♥ “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Proverbs 18:21 ESV)
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this blog.
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