How to tame your tongue!

Good grief!  Just when I think I’m finally growing a little more like Christ, my tongue trips me up yet once again!  In our marriages and in our friendships, what comes out of our mouths often tends to gravitate toward criticism, complaints, sarcasm, etc.  Try as I might, I just can’t seem to turn the corner on this problem!  How about you?

Chances are good that your tongue also gets you into trouble.  That’s because we have a common enemy.  Satan keeps subtly prompting us to spew negative, hateful, disrespectful, angry words. Thank goodness, there is One who has the power to tame our tongues!  Jesus is stronger than the enemy.  1 John 4:4 says “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”  Hallelujah!

So, this morning I surrendered my tongue to Jesus and asked Him to control my tongue today.  Would you be willing to ask God to help you remember to pause before you speak to your husband, especially when you’re angry or frustrated!  Maybe you would benefit from asking God to remind you during that pause to speak words that are kind and loving, even if you’re asking your husband to stop a certain behavior or trying to explain your frustration.  I know this is a prayer the Lord will answer because God tells us several times in the Bible to speak gracious words.  Ecclesiastes 10:12 “Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips.”

Will you courageously begin praying for God to help you catch yourself the minute you’re about to say something disrespectful, sarcastic, negative, critical, or arrogant toward your husband?

Does your man have dry bones?

Several years ago, I asked my husband what one thing most husbands really wish their wife would understand.  Here is what he said.  Most men long for their wife to notice something good about them and to tell them what they see!  It could be a positive character quality he displays.  It could be the fact that he works hard to provide for the family.  It could be a talent he has.  It could be the way you notice him submitting himself to God.

According to my husband, men desperately need this validation because they feel like a failure much of the time.  In fact, my husband described men as being a bit like dry bones in a desert, in desperate need of water.  Your words can provide water for those dry bones and breathe life back into your man!  Proverbs 16:24 puts it this way, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Will you commit to finding something to affirm about your husband every day for the next 7 days?  Will you commit to actually telling him about the good you see?  He will soak up those words like a sponge, and it will bring life back into the dry bones of his spirit.

Do this before giving hubby advice

A wife’s words are so impactful!  A few days ago, I wrote a devotional about the power of pausing during a heated conversation with our men so that we refrain from responding with words that are harsh or mean….something we’ll likely regret later.  Well, there’s also another reason to pause.  As women, we need to pause before we offer casual bits of advice or “wisdom” to our husbands.

I don’t think we realize how our guys are greatly influenced by us!   We might think they aren’t really paying that much attention to a casual suggestion we toss out, but often they are.  In fact, many husbands in the Bible were greatly influenced by something their wives said, and the wives rarely had good advice!  I think especially of Sarah telling Abraham to sleep with her servant in order for him to have a son, since she was getting impatient waiting for God to fulfill his promise to give her children! Read the story in Genesis 16:1-4 and you will find out Sarah’s decision didn’t turn out so well!

So, let’s think twice before we offer a morsel of our brilliant counsel during a conversation with our men.  I remember so clearly a time I did that several years ago with my husband and he immediately acted upon it.  I hadn’t really even thought it through, let alone prayed about it. It wasn’t actually a good suggestion that I tossed out at him carelessly!  Thankfully, there was no harm done, but it got me to thinking about the need to really pause and pray about any suggestions or counsel I decide to pass on to my husband.  How about you?

Body image matters

We all know that women are greatly concerned about their body image….maybe even obsessed about it!  But did you know that men are also hyper-sensitive about one aspect of their body image?  Almost every man really wants to be perceived as strong and muscular.  This means your husband yearns for you to notice and appreciate his muscles!  He’s not going to tell you that, but he really wants to be perceived as strong!

Perhaps this is why the bride in the Bible’s Song of Songs continues to tell her groom over and over again how she values his strength and muscular body.  Here are some examples of what she tells him:  Song of Songs 2:8-9 “Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.”   Song of Songs 5:14-15 “His arms are rods of gold set with topaz. His body is like polished ivory decorated with lapis lazuli. His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as its cedars.”

When’s the last time you verbally admired your husband’s strength?  When is the last time you noticed his biceps and made a little comment about how impressive they are?  Your husband craves those comments!  As you vocalize your appreciation for his physical strength, he will be drawn to you!

Husbands find this disrespectful

If you’re anything like me, there’s a good chance that you may sound too much like a “mother” instead of a wife when talking to your husband, at least from time to time.  I still remember the time a few years ago that I caught myself sounding like my husband’s mother.  He was heading out the door and for some reason, I felt compelled to say, “Don’t forget to eat some breakfast before you go”.   Really?  Did I need to say that?!   Did my husband really need me to point out that he should remember to feed himself?  What?  Is he 3 years old or something?  Oh brother.

When we remind our husbands about things that would be obvious to any adult, we’re actually being disrespectful.  Ouch.  It’s as if we’re telling our husbands that we don’t think they’re capable of making basic, reasonable decisions.  We sound like we’re talking to a toddler!  “Don’t forget to take a coat.”…”Be careful that you don’t hurt yourself with that hammer”…”Let me explain to you how to do _________.”

Let’s keep in mind the Bible’s instruction to wives in Ephesians 5:33, where God says “the wife must respect her husband”.  Men crave the respect of their wives just like women desire to be deeply cherished.  Don’t communicate disrespect to your husband by talking to him like he’s an ignorant or helpless child who needs a mother to guide him.

Strive for this kind of pride

Normally, pride isn’t a very good thing. In fact, God tells us over and over again throughout His Word that we need to get rid of pride.  I think we’ve all heard the Bible verse “Pride goeth before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

But here’s the thing.  I believe God is talking about getting rid of pride in ourselves.   He doesn’t want us to be puffed up and arrogant.  God wants us to attract people to Him through our humility.   However, I don’t see any place in Scripture where God tells us to avoid telling our loved ones that we are proud of them.  That kind of “pride” isn’t arrogant.  It’s extremely encouraging to the recipient! 

In fact, telling your husband “I’m proud of you” can move your husband out of paralyzing insecurity into confident, positive action.  When you say, “You’re a good man”, or “you have a good heart”, or I’m so proud to be your wife”, you are speaking words of life to your husband.  He longs to hear those words.  It’s time we stopped focusing only on what’s wrong with our husbands, and looked for some things that we can honestly affirm.  Our men need our encouragement!

This hit home for me a couple of years ago in my marriage to Raul.  My husband took the time to tell me that he felt tremendously encouraged when I would occasionally pop into his home office and tell him I’m proud to be his wife.  That tiny little statement built him up.  It helped him press back into the challenges that awaited him.  It helped him feel like he could slay dragons.  His wife was proud of him.  She believed in him.  He had the courage and confidence to keep moving forward.  Your words are powerful!  Have you told your man that you’re proud of him lately?  Are you speaking those essential words to your husband?

Consider Proverbs 14:1  A wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands a foolish woman tears hers down.  Are you building up your husband, and thereby, building up your marriage and family?  Or are you tearing down your husband and demolishing your home?  Something to ponder!

Marriage communication tip #1

You might recall the opening theme to the original Superman TV series.  The announcer proclaims that Superman is “faster than a speeding bullet”. Well, God has been showing me how a part of me is also faster than a speeding bullet….and can cause as much damage as a live round of ammunition.  That part of me is my mouth!

You may have the same challenge as I did in my marriage to Raul.  Do you often get impatient when your husband is trying to express himself and end up finishing his sentences? I did.  Do you interrupt your husband when he pauses mid-sentence?  I did.  Do you sometimes jump in and tell him how he should handle something as he’s trying to explain a challenging situation?  I did.  Do you get frustrated with him and react with harsh, disrespectful words that you can’t take back?  Hmmm. 

Let’s pray that God would give us the ability to be good listeners, patient talkers, and respectful communicators!  This is definitely God’s will for us, as revealed in James 1:19:  “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”   The first step is to coach yourself at the beginning of a conversation with your husband.  Remind your soul…”I will honor the Lord and my husband by listening quietly and responding respectfully”…”listening quietly, responding respectfully”…”listening quietly, responding respectfully”…(repeat as necessary!!).

Husbands want this kind of kiss!

Okay – I’ll come clean.  This might not be exactly what you expected.  I’m not going to attempt to teach anybody how to kiss well…in the literal sense!  However, God reveals something interesting in the Bible about kisses.  He says in Proverbs 24:26, “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips“.  Wow!

What if you were to bless your husband (almost as good as a passionate kiss!) and be honest with him?  According to God, being honest with your guy would be very well received and appreciated!  Here are 3 ideas on how you can start being more honest with your husband:

1) Stop hinting and decide to directly and clearly state your needs, desires, and ideas.

2)  Be transparent about your past failures and even your current struggles instead of pretending you’re perfect.

3) Be respectful but honest if something is really bothering you, as opposed to stuffing your true feelings and allowing bitterness to close down your heart toward your husband.  In other words, when he asks you if something is wrong, don’t say “everything’s fine”, if it’s not!!

Your need for empathy

I have had some deep conversations with several women recently, and I walked away from those talks with spirits lifted. In fact, my heart seemed lighter and my path ahead seemed clearer.  Even though I used to have some pretty good talks with my husband, it was so delightful to have an extended chat with some females.  Talking with women filled a definite need for empathy.  It also really helped me to more clearly process some things going on in my life as I verbalized what was happening and how I felt about those events in my life.  These women were good listeners. They were able to handle my long and detailed account. They were able to empathize with my feelings.  I’m so glad I have friendships with women, and not just with a man.

How about you?  Do you have at least 2 deep friendships with other God-believing women? Do you have at least 2 women in your life who encourage you, empathize with you, or make you laugh?  We NEED each other!  A husband cannot possibly meet all your relational needs.  Men aren’t wired the same as women.  In case you haven’t noticed, most women need to talk about all the things happening in their lives, and we need listeners who will empathize with us!  Most men are not wired to listen to a lengthy discussion, and they generally aren’t wired to express a lot of empathy either.  But a good female friend can fill that void for you, and you can do the same for her.  We need another woman to speak sweet words of empathy and encouragement in a way that most men just don’t understand.  Proverbs 16:24 reminds us, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”

So, be intentional about making some solid female friendships.  Invite a woman from church or work to coffee.  Be a good listener yourself.  Ask her to tell you about herself, her children, her challenges, her successes, her spiritual giftings, her hobbies.  Be a good listener.  You’ll be on your way to developing a good friendship.

** or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

Common communication pitfall in marriage

How many times have you muttered to yourself “He should just KNOW!”.  Most wives have muttered this time and time again.  I know I have, and just the other day, my husband and I were counseling a couple where this communication pitfall rose to the surface so clearly.  She needed her husband to romance her a little before physical intimacy and he had no clue!  She started getting resentful.  He most definitely felt her cold shoulder, but was oblivious to the problem!!

Expecting your husband to know what you want and need without clearly telling him…is a common communication pitfall.  Unfortunately, your husband doesn’t just “know” because he doesn’t think like a woman and most men have no idea what a woman wants or needs from her husband.  We can’t assume our husbands know what we want!

Avoiding this communication pitfall is so easy.  As a wife, clearly, concisely, and directly tell your husband what you want. Clearly tell him what you need.  Let him know the specifics as well!  Let me give a simple example.  Let’s say you have company coming over and the house is a mess.  Plus, you’re trying to make a dessert to serve.  So, you’re feeling stressed.  Meanwhile, your husband is oblivious to your inner turmoil. He’s contentedly watching ESPN.  In most cases, the wife would finally say “Hey, can you vacuum the house please?”.  To which the husband says, “sure” and continues watching ESPN.  At this point, the wife blows a gasket in frustration.  Here’s the thing.  She didn’t give him the details of what she was asking for.  Instead of simply asking, “Can you vacuum?”, she needed to say “Can you vacuum right now?”  She needed to clearly spell out what she was asking for and when.

Clear, honest communication is a gift to your husband!  It reminds me of Proverbs 24:26 An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.