Have you ever stopped to think about the language you use to your spouse? I’m talking about the actual words, your vocabulary you use. In reality, your words can bring true healing or sure destruction to your spouse and ultimately to your relationship. This may seem like common sense, but let me explain why:
Criticism & Contempt
In his research, Dr. John Gottman found that criticism and contempt were part of 4 characteristics that can erode a love relationship to its end or miserable existence. Criticism is defined as pointing out a flaw in your partner, protesting something about his/her character, attempting to correct something that is “wrong.” I have heard it all before, “but Logan, how is he supposed to learn if I don’t yell? If I don’t criticize… This is the only thing that works! I have to yell and criticize for him to get it!”
These approaches will not work long-term and will not breathe life into your marriage.
This was your first thought, right? There are plenty of acceptable environments to receive contsructive criticism, but your marriage is not one of them. Your marriage is sacred, your partner is unique (and so are you). Approach each other as we are called, with gentleness.
Contempt is the most toxic characteristic that you can bring into your marriage. How? In Gottman’s research, he found that couples who received contemptuous words (i.e. you’re lazy, your pathetic, “don’t worry about the dishes, wouldn’t want you to get your hands dirty,” you’re an _____!) produced a lower amount of T-cells in their blood supply.
Couples that receive contemptuous statements are literally being weakened and torn down just by the words that are stated.
So much for the the old adage, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me.”
If you’re thinking, “I’m not that bad,” or “It works for me / us so why change anything now?” I urge you to pursue the call we have as husbands and wives:
Humility – Look to showcase your spouse by lifting them up, by being curious, not by looking down on them.
Gentleness – Decribing the situation and prompting your spouse how to love you in the best way allows for heartfelt refocusing on what God has called them to be.
Patience – Listen up husbands (and wives too). Your job isn’t to “fix” everything in sight. Remember your spouse is unique and will fall short in their own way just as you will in your own way. Be mindful of your words, your vocabulary and wait for them to grow as you seek to grow.
Forgive – Allow the Gospel to change your heart and attitude toward your spouse. As Christ’s example saves us by grace, so we too can pursue the same grace as it applies to our souses’s sin.