Our tongue is an amazing muscle. It makes possible the ability for us to verbally communicate. Through the words that it can speak, it is able to sooth the soul or destroy a nation. Just by uttering words we have the power to transform the world around us. However, the tongue is not some independent part of the body. It can only speak what the mind wants to say. The words and phrases that are strung together are done so in an effort to express the thoughts that we have. Sometimes successfully and sometimes not so much. In turn, these thoughts are a reflection of what resides in the heart. The words we speak reveal what the heart contains. How we feel about things, what we believe or the condition of our soul. In fact, the heart is the center of all the issues in the world and a topic we will dive into next.
Words. It is amazing what words can do. They can build up. They can tear down. They can encourage or they can discourage. A word spoken at a critical time can bring hope or healing to the soul. This is why there is wisdom to think before we talk. To “hold our tongue” as it were if we are not prepared to face the consequences.
The art of good communication actually starts with being a good listener. In a relationship, the better we become with our listening skills to truly understand what someone is saying, the better that relationship will become.
I don’t have to convince you about the power of the tongue and the words that are uttered. There are examples abound in your own world, whether at home, at work, or in your social circles. Words that have been toxic, degrading, hurtful. Like a cancer, they infect others with their power. The influence of these words can turn people against each other. And, in extreme cases, cause a person to exact physical harm.
There are individuals this very moment that are in a verbally abusive relationship. Words are used to control, strike fear and manipulate them. This from someone who confesses their love no less. It is shameful and sickening. Others have committed suicide due to the poisonous words that struck to their very core. Words that caused feelings of abandonment, deep depression, and defeat.
A couples home should be a place of peace. However, it is not uncommon that it is found instead to be a place of contention due to the words being uttered. Joy has given way to heartache. Peace has turned into anxiety. Love in the relationship has become sour. Lovers turned into strangers. Intimacy giving way to mere formalities.
Consider for a moment your marriage. Are you building it up or tearing it down by the words you are speaking? We all have experienced days that have been worse than others, and where irritation and frustration have taken a conversation in a direction we wish that it didn’t go. Arguments happen, however it is important to take stock at what is really transpiring and stop your tongue from engaging in furthering the slow destruction of your relationship.
Here’s some good advice from a good source:
“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life…” – Prov. 15:23
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.” – Prov. 15:1-2
“a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” – Prov. 15:23
“The wise in heart shall be called prudent, and the sweetness of the lips increases learning…Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” – Prov. 16:21-24
Words are like seeds planted in a relationship. Once spoken they grow and produce fruit. That fruit will either be bitter or sweet. So what kind of words are you planting?
Here are some simple steps that offer guidance in being sure we are planting good seed:
First, be sure you are not the source of the problem. Michael Jackson had a song entitled “Man In The Mirror”. It is all about taking a good look at ourselves and taking inventory. What resides in our hearts? Is there bitterness, anger, pain or other things hidden there? These have to be dealt with if we want our thoughts to change and in turn, the words we speak, and how we say them. If there is a heart issue, deal with it and don’t take it out on the people around you. Seek God’s help in setting your heart free, or to heal you of a heart wound. You cannot do it alone. Surround yourself with family and friends that are positive. This helps fight against internal despair and other things that impact our thinking and our words.
Second is time. Remember how it was when the two of you first met. You would talk for hours about all kinds of things. Sometimes silly stuff and sometimes deep things. You shared your feelings and what you believed about life. You opened up about your hopes and dreams. The question is why did that change? Often the answer is we stopped making the time that we gave at the beginning. Its priority was reduced while other priorities were increased. Get back to some of that. Make time! Make it a higher priority once again!
It is important to continue creating special moments and rewarding memories that can be shared. They help feed the positive aspects of our relationship as in our abiding love, friendship, connection and intimacy within the scope of that relationship. In turn, our affection for the other is expressed in the way we treat and speak to one another. Who doesn’t like a good time? All right then, go make some!
Third is listen. Make an effort to improve that skill. There is a difference between hearing and listening. Pay attention.
Keep in mind that it is not about biting the bit, waiting for the other person to stop talking so we can say what we want to say. Sometimes it is better to say nothing at all and simply wait until another time to express our thoughts. Especially if it means avoiding an escalation of the conversation. Hold your tongue when it is best to say nothing.
Fourth. Do not degrade, demean or make fun of your spouse before others, or in private. This is the person that you say you love. You may think you are being funny. Or, you may think you are accomplishing some other motive. However, embarrassing them in public actually says more about you. And to do so in private reveals your lack of respect. You make yourself out to be a fool and worse, your spouse to be humiliated.
You are on a journey together. Each of you will need words of encouragement and support. Words that will build each other up and help one another to become the best person you can be. You started your relationship with words of kindness, tenderness, endearment, and affection. Don’t stop now! Choose words that edify each other. You should be each other’s cheerleader. Boast about your spouse. Be proud. You will reap great benefits when you do.
Fifth. Think. Take a moment from time to time to remind yourself that someone actually loves you. How does that happen? Why do they love you? And why would you want to destroy something so special? They accept you as you are. Seeing what you can be while also knowing your faults. Nevertheless, they stand with you. That is an amazing thing!
Let your words help preserve that love. Don’t let your words tear down your home and your relationship. Before you “blow off steam“, be sure you don’t say anything in haste, in anger or in regret. One of the things I appreciated about my parents is that when they had disagreements they took it to the bedroom so we would not hear them. They ironed out whatever it was and came to a mutual agreement. I never heard them argue. All I knew was a peaceful, secure and loving home. In their wisdom, they saw to it that we didn’t hear words that jeopardized that. Things don’t always have to be your way. Compromise brings value to both of you.
Sixth. Don’t be so thin-skinned. It is amazing how sensitive we have become. It seems we take everything personal now and it shows in what we say and how we say it. Keep in mind, it is possible that what you think you heard is not what was meant at all. What the other intended to say may not have come out right. After all, communication can be a tricky thing and we are not all good at it all the time. So don’t just assume, ask for clarification before you start World War III.
We tend to be defensive when we are insecure about something or feel that our values or personhood is being threatened. However, in a relationship, your significant other may bring something up that is meant to be positive, or helpful. I like the commercial where Martha asks President Lincoln if the dress she was wearing made her look fat. After a thoughtful pause, he uttered: “Uh, perhaps!” Being truthful in a relationship means we need to be willing to be open to another’s viewpoint not to our liking without offense.
Seventh. Don’t sweat the little stuff. More times than not, we tend to make things more dramatic than they are, or need to be. In fact, I am reminded of a movie entitled, “The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain” in which a small town had a visit from a map company that came to measure their mountain, only to find that it didn’t qualify as one. It was short by twenty feet and therefore could only be classified as a “hill”. The town wouldn’t stand for it and so ended up hauling dirt up that hill until they reached the twenty feet needed, thus making a “mountain out of a molehill.” Don’t compound things by taking something small and placing more importance on it than there should be.
How often have we argued over petty things only to realize it was not worth the headache. Yes, some things can be trigger points for you. But ask yourself why? And, how can it be resolved together?
Be more forgiving, thoughtful, more tolerant and most of all relax. The world will not come to an end. However, your words unchecked may cause your relationship to. Work it out!
Words. The power of life and death are in the tongue. The choice is always yours. Share words of life!