Are You Speaking Words of Life into Your Marriage or Are You Tearing It Down?
Recently, I had a reader ask if I could address the way some wives speak to their husbands. This particular bride struggles with having an unkind tone and also has used jokes as a weapon towards her man.
I think this is a great question and one that I am sure is very relevant to many women today. It’s so easy to have our feelings hurt or lose our patience and then retaliate with unkind speech or speak to our husbands in a belittling way.
So today I’m going to take you to the book of James, Chapter 3. Oh, the book of James. Just hearing the name of that book makes me wince and feel convicted!
Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. 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 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. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! James 3:2-10 (NLT)
Little convicting isn’t it? We use the tongue to praise God and we use it to curse others. I’m in that group. I’m guilty as charged. I wish I wasn’t, but if I said I didn’t do these things then you can add ‘liar’ to my resume as well.
The tongue is hard to tame and if you’re not careful you can cause an awful lot of damage with this small organ.
As wives, we can easily hurl insults and jab at our husbands when we feel rejected or hurt by them. It’s a natural reaction. It’s a lot more common for us to use our vile tongue than it is to just haul off and slug our husbands when they offend us. And let’s face it, sometimes our emotions have gotten the best of us and the LAST thing we want to do is exercise some spirit-filled, self-control. We want to get back at them. We want to hurt them like they hurt us. Or we want to be right. Or we want to make them feel like an idiot.
Let’s get to the root of the issue regarding our speech…… It’s our heart, friend. Our wicked, self-centered heart.
For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45
If you fill your heart with the things of the Lord and seek to please Him in all things, it will be easier to speak words of life, kind words, to your husband. Notice I said ‘easier’. I did not say it will always be under control because the Bible is clear, we won’t be perfect in this pursuit. Remember what James said?
For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. James 3:2 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. James 3:7,8
So what’s a woman to do in this situation? Throw up her hands and say there’s no use? Why bother trying?
No, that’s not the answer. That’s the wimpy Christian’s approach. But you dear reader, you are filled with the power of the LIVING GOD. And you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you! And you’re a wise woman who seeks wisdom to deal with this untamed, vile animal that lays, oh so peacefully, yet, so deceptively, behind your sweet smile.
5 Ways to Deal with the Tongue
1. Be mindful of the fact that our tongues are downright difficult to tame. This will help you to know what kind of beast you’re dealing with so you won’t be deceived.
2. You can build others up with your words or tear them down. You may not have control over your situation, but you do have some say of what comes out of your mouth. No one is forcing you to spew venom on your man! And your man does not need another mother, so I strongly caution that you do not speak to him like he is a child. He’s not. He’s the leader of your family and he has been ordained by God to hold such a position. You can argue with God all day long about this one, but I believe Father knows best. So give him the respect he deserves, whether you feel he deserves it or not.
3. Learn to exercise self-control. This is an on-going virtue that will grow stronger the more it’s exercised. But the key here is doing it in the Spirit. You can forget about self-control lasting long when doing it in the flesh! When exercising self-control in the flesh it’s kinda like going on a diet. We’re committed to having the motivation and will-power for a few days, but when someone puts a delicious brownie in front of us then the diet goes straight out the window. It’s the same premise with our tongues. We’ll have some self-control in the flesh, but we’ll have the most when we’re in the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22,23
4. Talk to your husband about your struggle in the flesh. Yes, you’ll need to be vulnerable here. Let him know when he says or does certain things it makes you feel_________. (Fill in the blank.) And that’s why you lash out or talk to him like he’s a child. You’re not justifying your behavior here, you’re just sharing your heart/your struggles. Ask him if he likes it when you speak to him in such ways. I’m sure he doesn’t. Let him know you’re working on this and maybe this will spark him to work on his fleshly struggles that offend you.
5. Learn to apologize over and over again in your marriage. This is another area where you’re using your tongue to build up your husband and your marriage. This restoration is ALWAYS needed in any marriage. A word of caution here regarding one’s tendency to not deal with offended feelings: Sweeping issues under the rug will not make your marriage better, it’ll just make a messier marriage.
The following passage applies to any wife/believer but I wanted to point out these verses specifically to a wife whose husband is an unbeliever or barely believing. The verses are in the same passage of James, Chapter 3 where he taught earlier about the tongue and this is what follows:
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17,18
The words that come out of your mouth will make a HUGE impact on your unbelieving (or believing) husband. You are planting seeds of peace when you’re filled with gentleness. Cover him in kindness, dear friend…..even if he is vile. He’s just like the rest of us sinners, however he doesn’t have the power of the Holy Spirit like you do!
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. Proverbs 31:26
Our words matter!
Live a poured out life for Christ,
Thank you so much for this post!
Many blessings to you sweet friend!
oh boy-o-boy! (were you in my house on Monday???) 😉
I’m finding myself a little more ‘snappy’ these days, fortunately Robert doesn’t react, but looks for what’s lying/laying under my words and speaks to my heart. He’s a master at defusing my moods. (he took me out to Dairy Queen that evening as a special treat)
Thanks for the reminder! grrrrrrrrrrr. 🙂
Oh, goodess, the way we address our husbands should probably be addressed every day! I love that you brought up that the heart is the root of the problem.
Very often it’s also true that we address our husbands the way we address/think about others; it isn’t just a marital issue. One book that I found incredibly helpful and convicting on the subject of communication from a biblical perspective is Paul David Tripp’s War of Words. Highly recommended!
Oh, Jolene, you just had to use that word — apologize! Why is that so hard? Thanks, I think! 🙂
The image of a three inch crocodile really brings it home. Thanks for this reminder that our tongue can be used as a weapon…or as a gift!
Great suggestions for getting beyond the angry heart and hurtful words.
I would add another suggestion, too: to behave as though she feels deeply loved and feels the same about her husband in return. What would that look like? Perhaps generously giving daily tokens of love and gratitude, such as a short sweet note of affirmation in a lunch box, or a short text, or making his favorite dinner.
Thanks for all the help you bring to wives, and for sharing it all at NOBH!
What a great post! There are few things that bother me more than hearing another woman CONSTANTLY down on her man. I know we all do that at times, and I appreciated the reminder that I need to deal with the croc! Thanks for the post!
(Visiting from Beholding Glory)
Thank you for the post, really needed to hear the encouragement, hope I can turn this situation around as my husband said he can not build a life with a women that tears down.
Hi Jolene, as per usual great and timely advice.
Oh yes, I agree! We want to build up our home, not tear it down with our own hands!
As you said, we have to look at what we are filling ourselves up with. T.v. shows that makes us discontent? Friends who encourage us in our poor attitudes when they should be pointing us to Christ? Books that fill us with a false sense of what love and romance really is?
Our husbands need to know that their heart and reputation is safe with us, not put on display for a cheap joke at their expense.
Fortunately we have a big God who is able to help us in our desire to build our marriages and control our tongues! Thanks for hosting again today, my friend.
Yes, Momstheword, we DO have a big God who is able to help us in our desire to build our marriages and control our tongues!
Excellent article and excellent advice to tame the tongue! Thanks for hosting the link-up week after week!
Thank you, Kate!
When I woke up this morning and checked my e-mail, I felt as though this post was written specifically for me! Ever since my husband got out of the military, and we moved away from our families across the country for his schooling, a lot of stress has been put on our marriage.
Lately, especially this last week, I have lost my temper more than once; I yelled, spoke hateful words towards my husband, and even threw my cell phone. Immediately after this happened, I felt completely convicted, and turned towards God. I realized I had been tearing down my marriage, and I wanted it to stop. I need it to stop! Like your post says, taming the tongue is a hard battle to win, and I continue to struggle everyday, but also like what you said, there is HOPE in God!!!
Thank you for helping me not feel hopeless, and letting me know I’m not the only wife in the Christian community to is dealing with this problem. I love all of your posts. They truly are inspired by God. Please never stop!!
God Bless you Jolene!!
God is always with you, Vanessa. Remain hopeful and keep your mind on pleasing the Lord in the midst of your difficulties. We have a faithful God even when we’re faithless!
Thank you so much for hosting. Happy Monday!
Our words matter! And yours were perfectly on point today. As usual! Thanks so much, Jolene, and thanks for the link up.
Awe, thank you for your kind words, Sheila!
I’ve spoken so much bad into my marriage 🙁
Please pray for my marriage as I and my husband are separated and he’s thinking about filing for divorce. He sees no way out of the mistakes that he’s made. Thank you.
🙁 Sorry to hear about your situation, Val. Continue to pursue the things of the Lord and try to minister to your husband. Perhaps his heart will soften towards you.
Thanks so much for all your great advice! I have been putting my dear husband down without realizing it and he just pointed it out to me this past weekend. What timely words of wisdom. Marriage is so hard and we are having a bit of a difficult time and I just came across your site and am finding a lot of good information and advice that I need to work on. I need to work on lifting my husband up not tearing him down like the song says.
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