In honor of my in-law’s 43rd wedding anniversary today, I’d like to share one of my favorite tips on cultivating a blessed marriage.
It’s a simple idea, but one that takes great effort.
Our marriage has experienced its fair share of highs and lows over the past 21 years. One thing we have learned is the power of our words. If you missed my recent guest post Guarding Our Words, you can read that here.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue” ~Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV)
My husband and I have created a daily habit of praising one another with our words. Too often, we do the opposite with our words when one of us is out of sorts, but that’s to be expected when two imperfect people attempt to do life together. In those times, hopefully one of us will respond to the other in grace, patience, and love. Usually, that is enough to change the entire course of a conversation that is headed in a downward spiral.
Too often, however, the second doesn’t choose to answer the first very kindly as feathers have been ruffled. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that that doesn’t go well. We don’t honor each other, or God, when we allow our words to take us down that path.
This is the difficult thing about relationships. We know how we are supposed to speak to one another, but when feelings are hurt, the mouth is much harder to control. In an effort to cultivate and maintain an honoring marriage, we have instilled a few guidelines that we follow regardless of how emotional we get.
1. We never call each other names. We allowed this in the past, and it almost destroyed our marriage. We may express our dislike at the way we are being spoken to or treated, but we do not call each other names.
2. We do not use curse words. Do I really need to elaborate on this one?
3. We never use the “D” word. Early in our marriage, we used that threat and I cannot tell you how destructive it was. Our spouses need to know that they are in a committed relationship, even when the going gets tough. Nothing builds doubt and insecurity like having your spouse threaten to divorce you.
4. We do not bring up the past in current arguments, unless it is relevant and necessary to reach a level of mutual understanding. When we do, we do so with great caution. We need to forgive one another, and bringing up the past makes that a difficult task.
5. We have learned when to say nothing. Earlier in our marriage (and sometimes still today, unfortunately), we fought for the last and final word. We battled to have our perspective not only understood, but confirmed. More than two decades later, we have learned to let the smaller things go in the name of peace.
Just as important as what we don’t say are the things we do say:
1. We tell each other that we love one another on a daily basis. Often we remind one another that we are still “in love”.
2. We often greet each other with endearing terms and fun nicknames.
3. I tell my hubby often that I would marry him all over again. He loves hearing that! I think that, even in very secure, committed relationships, it is important to remind your spouse that you aren’t just keeping your promise, but that you would do it all over again.
4. We tell each other how thankful we are for the other on a daily basis. We appreciate and thank each other for the work and care we do for one another and for our family. This has been especially important during tough economic times. My husband works very hard to provide for our family. His business has struggled greatly and our income has diminished, but it is to no fault of his own. I think it is very important for me to remind him that no matter how things are going for us, economically, I appreciate his efforts to provide and care for us.
“…let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” ~Ephesians 5:33 (NKJV)
I’m sure that some of you are thinking that this is all fine and good when both spouses are on the same page. What about when one is not? Scripture tells us that we will all be held accountable for every idle word that is spoken (Matthew 12:36-37). To me, that means that we are responsible for the words that come out of our mouths, regardless of the other party.
“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives” ~1 Peter 3:1 (NKJV)
My advice in this situation is going to God in prayer. If you feel alone in your marriage, then become the member of the marriage that you want the other to be. Pray to God and ask Him to give you a heart for your spouse regardless of how that person treats you. (I am not at all referring to abuse in this statement.) Ask Him to give you words that speak love and kindness, especially when you don’t feel that way. I believe that He will honor those prayers for your good and for His glory. All you need is a willing heart.
“out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” ~Matthew 12:34 (NKJV)
It’s never an easy thing to do, but the rewards will be worth the effort. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for marriage. Thank You for the spouse and the families You have blessed us with. I pray that You will continue to strengthen Godly marriages as we look to honor our spouses by honoring You. I pray for the struggling marriages. I pray that You would soften hearts in marriages that are struggling, hurting, and possibly ready to call it quits. We pray that You would help wives to honor and respect their husbands in the same way that we honor and respect You. Help husbands, Lord, to love their wives as Christ loves the church. May we always remember that we are responsible for our hearts, our thoughts, and our words regardless of the person on the receiving end of them that you would be glorified and that our marriages would be blessed.
Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. Thank you for the example you have given us. You have shown us that marriage is not always easy, but when God comes first, things have a way of falling into place.
Amazon has a great selection of books to improve any marriage. A few we can personally recommend are: His Needs, Her Needs, The 5 Love Languages, The Excellent Wife, Love and Respect, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, The Power of a Praying Wife, and The Power of a Praying Husband.
*Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. You are not obligated to make any purchases, but when you do through one of my links or the Amazon search box to the right, I will make a small percentage on the sale. Thank you for supporting my site.
How have you seen words hurt or heal a marriage?