Words matter. Words have the ability to build up or tear down. Justin and I have been married long enough to have experienced the rewards and consequences of both types. We’ve known the soothing balm of compassionate words. We’ve known the inspiration of encouraging words. We’ve known the exhilaration of sensuous words. We’ve also known the cut of careless words. The sting of sarcasm. The agony of disrespect. All of these words have brought us to where we are now and all the words yet to be spoken will propel us into the future.
Each marriage has the ability to develop a word culture. A culture that includes positive and affirming words or a culture of selfish and hurtful words. Take inventory of your marriage to determine which path you are currently on. Then decide how to pursue the path towards a more positive goal.
3 ways to develop a more positive word culture.
1. Develop the culture of your heart. Silence cannot be heard. Positive words that are not spoken cannot be acted on or reciprocated. If you want positive and affirming words to be the culture of your marriage, get used to using them. If it’s been a while since affectionate and beneficial words have been uttered, then choose today to being practicing them. More than anything, this practice begins in your heart and mind. “The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” (Matthew 12:34) Begin by thinking through and focusing your mind on the positive, beneficial and favorable aspect of your marriage. You may need to dig deep or return to a time seemingly long gone to give language to your desires, but mining out the hidden gems will be worth the time.
2. Own rather than excuse hurtful words. It’s easy to overlook the pain our words cause someone else. It’s even easier to excuse them. Neither of these will benefit your marriage. When you speak words that cause pain, you must own them. Also, you must learn to validate your spouse and admit that your words, intentional or not, caused strain in your relationship. Expecting your spouse to just “get over it” is not respectful or helpful. Saying you’re sorry, asking forgiveness and moving forward with a new understanding of the importance of our words will help your marriage regain footing on the right path.
3. Take the initiative and go first. A lot of us want better, more positive marriages but we are on the sidelines waiting for our spouse to make the first move. This won’t work. Marriage was never intended to be an individual venture. If you desire the word culture to improve in your marriage, then you need to make the first move. There are no quick fixes in marriage and there are no guarantees that your spouse will reciprocate in the way or for the reasons you desire. Persevere, and see if there isn’t something good in store for both you and your marriage.
Developing a positive word culture in marriage will require something. It will require acting and responding in ways that are respectful, loving and generous. It will require paying close attention to words. It will require speaking contentment instead of contempt. More than anything, it will require love. Not only in action, but also in words.
Linking with Women Living Well