You’ve heard the saying before:
If you don’t have anything nice to say….don’t say it all!
I don’t know about you, but I KNOW what my weakness is. I’ve always known it, even at a young age. It’s my tongue. My mouth. The words I speak.
When I was in middle school, I once got out of a situation where a girl wanted to fight me. She was taller than me, bigger than me, and would undoubtedly beat the tar out of me EXCEPT, I had a secret weapon. My mouth. So I hurled insults her way (not something I’m proud of as an adult!) and when it was time to “fight” she was nowhere to be found because I embarrassed her. I don’t say this as something to be proud of, but to emphasize the fact, that even at a young age I knew I could use words to hurt people.
As an adult, the more I learned about words and the power of the words we speak, the more I realized the words I spoke had weight, power, and could affect a situation or a person positively or negatively.
Now picture a girl whose weakness is her mouth in a relationship with a person who is hot headed and is also known for his mouth. Guys, it wasn’t a good combination. Jose and I spent the first few years of our relationship arguing a lot and using our words to hurt each other. The thing with the words you speak is that once you say them you can’t take them back and hurtful words are so painful and wound so deeply. If I asked you right now to tell me something someone said that hurt you, you could distinctly give me a specific incident and person. We remember these things.
This is why I want to tell you something I’ve had to learn myself in marriage.
When I don’t have anything to say that’s going to produce fruit in my marriage, sometimes the best thing to do is to BE QUIET.
As in literally, zip it and not say anything at all.
Here’s the thing – I know there are times where you will have to have difficult conversations within a marriage. This is a reality that’s inescapable and healthy. What I AM saying is this – if what you are going to say is not going to produce positive fruit in your marriage, don’t say it.
In this post, I’m talking specifically about those low blow moments. You know what I’m talking about. Those moments where you have something you can say that will really hit your spouse where it hurts. Maybe it’s a weakness, a vulnerability that’s been shared. You are so angry or mad and you just want your spouse to know it, so you prep your ammunition and are ready to aim. My plea to you – don’t.
Our first year of marriage, in the middle of an argument, Jose used to simply stop speaking and leave the room. At first, I was even more livid, “I’m talking to you! I’m trying to have a conversation with you! What are you doing?!” I would call after him. He would later explain that he just needed to step away from the situation until we could talk calmly about it. Oh, it would make me so irate because I wanted to talk about things RIGHT NOW and resolve it RIGHT AWAY. As time has gone on, I’ve appreciated how much it has saved us from a lot of pain! Eight years in, we don’t walk away from each other in the midst of hard conversations, but we have learned to guard the words that we speak to each other.
I love what James has to say about the words we speak:
“In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” James 3:5-6
I love how it keeps mentioning “fire.” One terrible word or conversation can cause a world of pain and destruction. This can be avoided if we guard our speech and the words that we speak to our spouse.
I’m not telling you that anytime you get into an argument you need to physically run away from each other! When we were newlyweds, we were learning how to fight fair. We had to actually give each other some physical space for a few minutes or a half hour or so, then reconvene when we were calm. I’m glad that being married almost 8 years; we’ve come such a long way and don’t have to do this every time there’s a disagreement. We’ve learned that we respect and love each other enough to protect each other from words we might regret.
So if I could share anything that has helped me:
- If you’re ticked off, don’t try to force a conversation in that moment.
- If you have to give each other a few minutes, do it. Don’t force it in that exact moment, BUT…
- Refuse to go to bed angry with each other (Ephesians 4:26).
- DON’T SAY INSULTING THINGS YOU WILL REGRET.
- Talk to your spouse when emotions have calmed down and you can be reasonable.
- Your words matter and will be remembered. They also can HURT and create a deep wound so PROTECT each other by refusing to engage in trading insults.
Here’s the thing – all couples have disagreements at one point or another. If you’ve never argued with your spouse, you are a magical unicorn and can I please have your autograph? The point is this – when you know you are on the verge of saying something destructive and life killing, ask yourself if it’s going to produce positive fruit in your relationship in the long run.
“A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered.” Proverbs 17:27