Marriage: Best Friends or Worst Enemies

How do you feel when people draw attention to your mistakes? When was the last time you did something wrong and tried to hide it? Have you ever thought you did something correctly just to have someone tell you later that you made a serious error? What kinds of emotions do you experience when someone points out your failures?

People don’t mind being noticed when they do things right. After all, every woman appreciates a compliment when she dresses herself in beautiful clothing, arranges her hair in a fashionable style, and wears makeup that accentuates the delicate features of her face. Similarly, men love to show the antique car they restored to like-new condition, the 12-point buck they harvested, or the new shed they built in the backyard. We love it when people notice us doing something right, and we like to show it off!

On the other hand, we are eager to hide our failures. A picture frame is a nice way to hide a hole we punched in the wall. Arriving late to work, we quickly slip into the back entrance. When an unexpected visitor pulls into our driveway, we hurry to shut the door to our messy bedroom. Nobody wants to have attention drawn to themselves when there is a risk of being judged for their shortcomings.

Most of us avoid criticism at all costs, so why is it that the people who are most likely to find fault with us are the people with whom we share a bed? Why are husbands and wives so quick to notice–and point out–each other’s failures?

Has your spouse ever said any of the following things to you?

“You didn’t take out the garbage.”

“The food is too salty.”

“Why do you always leave wet towels on the bathroom floor?”

“Why didn’t you close the garage door?”

‘You always complain about everything!”

“You never say that you love me.”

“You are the worst person I have ever met.”

“I can never trust you to do anything right.”

“You’ll never change.”

Some of these comments may seem relatively minor, but others are extremely hurtful. You certainly don’t want to hear that are the worst person your spouse has ever met, but it doesn’t feel great to be reminded that you left the garage door open, either! Criticisms, whether big or small, leave a negative impression on us. This is why it is very important that we are careful with the way we use our mouths.

The words we use have an impact on the people who hear them. As surely as we blush and smile at a compliment, we will scowl and frown when we are told that we put the dinner plates in the wrong cabinet. When we say words to each other, we have a responsibility to deliver our messages with as much grace as possible. It benefits us to speak gently, lovingly, and patiently to others, especially our spouses.

Also, we need to practice patience in the way that we receive messages that our partners are giving us. From time to time, a husband may criticize his wife’s lasagne recipe, or a wife may tell her husband that he is wearing an ugly tie. In either case, the way that we receive harsh criticism will have a long-term influence on the health and vitality of a marriage.

You may have heard the quote from the Bible that says, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” However, there is a second part to that verse that says, “Those who love the tongue will eat of its fruits.” Some of us are in love with our critical tongues. We love to say hurtful things, but the Bible promises us that we will eat from the fruit that our tongues sow. You have the power to sow both good and evil with your tongue, and the seed you sow will produce the fruit you harvest.

Healthy communication is an important key to a successful marriage, and one of the most important things we can do to improve communication is to pay very close attention to the words that come from our mouths. Learn to love your tongue. You have great power to change many things with the mouth that God has given you. You will be richly rewarded with abundant blessings by learning to use your tongue in the way that God intended. To bless and not curse. To build up and not to tear down.

God intended husbands and wives to be friends, not to be enemies. But if a man and a woman hope to live together in the harmony of friendship, they must learn to use the power of their tongues to build a relationship on a foundation of love and trust. Your husband or wife may make some mistakes, but be careful how you use your tongue to bring those things to their attention. Before. you speak, ask yourself: How would I feel if somebody told me that I did something wrong, and how do I want to be treated when somebody notices my mistakes?

We are often tempted to criticize, but when you are tempted to point out someone’s mistakes, give it a second thought. Take your complaint about your partner to God and ask Him to speak to your spouse’s heart about their mistakes. The Holy Spirit is a wise and gentle counselor who is an effective ally, and you can count on Him to bring changes in your marriage when you surrender your tongue to God’.

[If you need help taming the power in your tongue, click here to set up an appointment with a Christian counselor for individual or marriage counseling].

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