In our marriages, we often focus on our actions. For example, cooking dinner for our husband or fixing the car for your wife.

While our actions are important, our words are the foundation and the glue (or solvent) for our marriage.

Whoever came up with the old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” could not have been any more off.

Our words are powerful. We either speak life (good things) or death (bad things) into our marriage. None of us are trying to destroy our marriage yet many of us are through our words.

Think of a rudder on a ship. The rudder is tiny on a massive ship, yet the rudder controls the entire ship, sending it to Alaska or the Caribbean.

Our mouth is the rudder for our marriage. What we say has profound and lasting effects. When we choose to say derogatory or hurtful things, we are leading our marriage to pain and possibly divorce. When we speak encouragement and positive words, we are leading our marriage to bliss and longevity.

Compliments are often overlooked once we are married. Our spouses still want to be told they are beautiful or handsome. If she’s an amazing cook, tell her and if he works all day to provide for the family, thank him for his commitment to your family (even if you work as well).

For a stay-at-home mom or dad, this is vital, as they often only have adult conversation when the other spouse comes home. Notice when the house is clean and show your appreciation through words.

Try to also avoid negative statements. Negative statements in our marriage are when we say things like, “You never take the trash out” or “You always come home late.”

Instead say, “Will you please take the trash out? I would really appreciate it.” Or, “I really enjoy seeing you at the end of my day. I guess that’s why it bothers me when you get home late.”

Both times the same point is made, but the second one is filtered through love and the focus is on you and your emotions rather than pointing an accusatory finger at your spouse.

We must also be aware of the tone in which we say the words. We can say good things in a harsh tone and still cause destruction.

Sarcasm is especially harmful, as it’s root is often demeaning. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we can give correction or constructive criticism to our spouse.

When we avoid cynical or correcting tones and focus on a loving tone, the correction is easier to receive. Remember Mary Poppins, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

As much as we try, there will still be times we miss the mark in marital communication. If you have spoken hateful words or spoken in a hateful tone, the best thing you can do is apologize and make it a personal goal to develop in this area.

As the spouse who was on the receiving end of the hurtful words, forgive your spouse. Your forgiveness is not saying the words were OK. Your forgiveness is choosing to not allow the words to define you.

Until next time, speak life!

Kindra Warner is a marriage group facilitator at Grace Christian Center in Killeen and a Herald correspondent.

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