Words -- Choose them wisely

"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1

I've had a lot on my heart for the past week and a half.  Whether it's been happy times with new engagements, or frustrating times while listening to spouses attack each other ... the past 2 weeks have been a learning process to say the least.  Not necessarily in my own marriage, but in the way I react to others when they ask for my opinion, wisdom, advice or even if they just vent to me.  

One of the most popular things I've heard this week are harsh words from people about their spouse.  Cutting them down, saying they never do this, they never do that, or even going as far as "I don't think this marriage is going to work anymore."  And that's where it happens.  When you get married with the thought that divorce is even an option, you let the devil use your mind, your mouth, and your life as his playground.  It may not happen immediately, but it will happen. 

This Sunday my Pastor taught on "Love" and the different types of love.  There is Eros love, which is greek for the word "erotic".  There is "Philia" love, which means "brotherly love" (aka, friendship).  And there is Agape love -- which is the greatest love you can have.  Why is Agape the greatest love you can have?  Because it is the only love where you give and expect nothing in return.  This is the love that Christ has for His church (us).  This is the type of love we should have for our spouse.

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..." Ephesians 5:25

One of the biggest things that will start a fight in your marriage is really simple -- how do you react to your spouse or situations in your relationship/home.  It's something that every couple will struggle with, even the best of the best.  It is our human nature to snap at someone if they snap at us, or to down someone if they down us.  It's easy for us to come back at them in return -- and unfortunately most of the harsh comments you receive in your life come from our spouse (even if they don't realize it). 

I read an article today called "How To Fight Well" -- and it pretty much summed up what I had been thinking about for the past week or so.  I highly suggest you read the article (before reading this, but not necessary), it's not very long.  You can simply click on the title of it above and you will be directed to the article page.  It is a great article, but I'd like to touch on his points a little more in depth.  I understand, since I am a journalist myself, how you have a word quota for certain assignments, and I believe keeping it short and to the point allows people to keep interest in the article and read until the end.  This was one case where he did a good job on keeping it short and sweet!  But let's look a little deeper.  Please keep in mind that these are MY comments on these rules (rules are in bold) that the journalist created -- these are not my rules, but my thoughts underneath of them.

Do not use universal language. (ex: "You never take the trash out." or "You always act like you're better than me.")
The journalist on this first rule pretty much hit the nail on the head, but here is something else to think about. I'll admit, I often revert to using these terms, mostly without even knowing I'm using them.  The great part is that normally, when I use these terms, my husband always says "oh, ok, name one time recently when I've done/not done that".  And it always puts this in perspective for me.  I might not always know when he's recently done/not done something that I say he "always" forgets/does....but I "know" he's done/not done it "a lot".  However, the cold hard fact is that it obviously wasn't that big of a deal to me if I got over it that quickly to not remember when the last time he washed laundry or took the trash out or shut the cabinet door (he has a habit of leaving them open).  When I use those terms, I imagine he must think "well she obviously thinks I'm good for nothing.." and that's just not true, nor do I want my spouse to think that.  He is good at a lot of things and a wonderful husband!

Do not let issues reach "last straw" status/Do not threaten separation or divorce (combined these two)
So so true!  This can create such a distrust in the relationship.  When you yell at your spouse "that's it, I can't take this anymore, why don't we just get divorced....it's not like we ever get along anyway!"  My heart so breaks when I hear people say this.  And it happens all too often.  My husband and I have had heated fights in our relationship and one of these may have slipped out once or twice, but the good thing is that it terrified the both of us to the point where we immediately apologized and felt horrible for saying it.  The good thing is that we knew (and still know) that divorce would NEVER be an option in our relationship as it is against God's will (in most cases) and we don't want to bring confusion and heartache into our family.  You must remember that at one point, you were madly in love with your spouse.  Now, you must make the choice to continue to love them and work on the commitment that YOU made to them.  This is the mindset you need to have in your marriage.  If divorce is not an option in your marriage, it forces you to work through your arguments and differences -- it forces you to keep your end of the deal, even if your spouse doesn't agree.  You must communicate with your spouse in order to get through to the underlying issue. 

Do not use coarse language, personal attacks or name-calling. 
This goes back to choosing your words wisely because there really is life or death in the words that you speak [Proverbs 18:21].  I think everyone does this at some point or another.  But no matter what you say in a fight, you must remember that it can cut deep, and that wound might never heal.  It then causes bitterness and brings back that feeling every time you have an argument or heated discussion with your spouse.  It makes your spouse either lash out at you for no reason or makes them shrink down into a hole and not communicate at all! 

Do not bring up past issues that have been resolved.

There is a quote by Gary Chapman that says "I am amazed by how many individuals mess up every new day with yesterday." And unfortunately he is very correct.  The first tidbit of advice we got before we got married was to never 'go to bed angry' --
 "In your anger do not sin; Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry"Ephesians 4:26
That advice came from 2 very wise and experienced Christians.  At that time, I didn't really think about it nor did I appreciate it as much as I do now.  The longer I've been married, the longer I've thought about just how useful that advice was and still is.  There are so many nights that couples go to be with unresolved issues, whether with something that happened that day or something that happened a month before.  Resolve your differences with your spouse before you just let the feelings linger away.  If you don't, you're just going to keep nagging at those feelings and the issue, and that creates irritability with your spouse....you'll get no where and your words will start going in one ear and right out of the other (even with issues other than the one you keep bringing up!)

This can also ring true in relationships in general.  All too often a person may put up the effort to 'move forward' in their relationship with friends, family, in-laws etc, but if someone keeps bringing up the past, it makes that person not want to be around them or put up an effort even more.  If someone is trying to put up an effort to 'mend' a relationship and the other person constantly brings up the past or makes snide remarks like "well it's about time you came around" or "well I always feel like you do this or that or..." whatever..then it just creates awkwardness and an uncomfortable feeling.  I wouldn't want to be around someone who says that to me when I'm trying to make a difference.  Why would I, if they are constantly bringing up the past?  I don't want to think about what "was"...why can't we just concentrate on trying to fix the now?  

Do not use physical force
-- that's just self explanatory and I don't need to go into this rule any further....I think he cleared it up pretty well!

Do not assign false motive
The journalist touched on 'creating false motive' in your mind, but I don't think the point got across clearly.  All too often we (mostly us women!) think our spouse is saying something about us that they aren't.  We think they are belittling us, criticizing us or "keeping tabs" on us -- but that's generally not the case.  Even just a simple "so did you talk to your mom today?" can set us off.  We might think "why, did you think I was talking about you to her or something!?"...when in all reality your spouse was simply asking if you talked to your mom today and if everything was ok!  My husband knows that I am a huge believer in not involving your family (mostly parents/in-laws) in your issues with your spouse as it can not only cause hardship between you and your spouse but also gives your parents/in-laws a false image of your spouse.  So this example is non-existent to some like us.  

Another good example would be when your spouse says "are you sure you want to wear that?" -- yeah, those are fighting words right there.  It automatically makes you think "do you think I'm fat!?" or "oh, so you don't think I'm beautiful in everything?"  The sad fact is, ladies, no....we don't always look good in everything.  Also, there may be something different that your spouse enjoys seeing you wear (wearing pjs, oversized pants/shorts, or raggedy shirts out in public is just unacceptable for women!  Makeup-less faces are acceptable and are usually preferred).  I learned this the hard way, but found that when I listened to my husband, I usually felt better about myself when he enjoyed what I wore because I knew he took the time to look at me, or enjoyed the way I looked in something.  Isn't this what every wife wants?  When my husband said "are you sure you want to wear that?"...he didn't mean that I didn't look beautiful (he certainly doesn't mind my ragged shorts and tanktop at home), but something might have fit a little too tight and showed those nice flabby rolls on my back...and who wants to go out with back roll showing?  In my husbands case, I might tell him his shirt is too tight and shows off his dunlap too much (ha! dunlap aka belly over your pants)  or maybe his shirt needs to be tucked in because it makes him look more "proportional" (yes, these are actual examples).  This doesn't mean I don't find my husband attractive, but it means that his assets are shown off better when he tucks his shirt in or styles his hair etc.  Believe it or not girls, our men like showing us off and why shouldn't they?  If we automatically go into defense mode and do things our own way all the time, it completely kills their motivation and, let's just face it, their attraction to us (which then creates other issues).  Think about it....

So there's my 2cents worth :)  Discuss if you'd like!  Questions are welcomed as well. 

If we are willing to work on our marriages and realize that not everything is our spouses fault, we will start making great strides and good progress with our soul mate!

Sorry for taking so long to post a new blog, I just wasn't clear on what direction I should go in, and this article was conformation for me this week!

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