My husband called in a panic, and I could hear the anxiety in his voice. Earlier that morning, he and his father went to pick up a kitchen table and chairs to bring back to our house. Since the panicked phone call coincided with the furniture run, naturally my imagination ran wild as I envisioned the table and chairs scattered across the interstate. Oh no, I thought. Please don’t say there’s bad news.
But there was. There was a fresh rip in the backseat upholstery from loading in the table leaf. My husband’s frustration with the incident turned into nervousness as he remembered that hours earlier I had suggested taking my Xterra instead of his car. My 2006 salvaged, orange peel paint job Xterra rather than his newly purchased, less than 35,000 miles-driven Honda.
He cringed, waiting for the “I told you so.”
I clenched my lips. My husband rambled, making up for the silence, apologizing continuously. I knew my next response had the potential to ruin the rest of our day. As my mouth remained shut, my ears opened to what God had imprinted on my heart a few years earlier.
An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones. – Proverbs 12:4
1) 50 Years
- If it won’t matter 50 years from now, don’t worry about it. My critical, sharp words could cut my husband and leave him scarred by my label of inadequacy, long after we’ve gotten rid of the car. My words could be the first brick to build a wall between us that could hinder us years from now. While it may not have done much that week, continual offenses would take away the bricks we had used for the foundation of a healthy marriage and turn them into a barrier between our communication and relationship.
2) Nagging Wife Syndrome
- It’s easy to find ourselves nitpicking and correcting our spouse out of love. But often, these comments are not received by our husband as suggestions to implement, but as criticisms that tear down.
- Whether our husband’s behavior is right or wrong, our response is ultimately a revelation of our spirit. Proverbs 12:4 describes how we can either be the crown of our husband or the cancer in his bones. Our words and actions reveal whether we will deprive him of life in secret or if we will edify and promote him in public.
3) Be a ladder, not a shovel.
- One of our duties in a relationship is to encourage one another in the midst of defeating circumstances. My husband recognized he had made a mistake, and I didn’t need to help dig the hole any deeper. Our words as wives aren’t meant to be a shovel to dig him a deeper hole to sulk inside but are meant to be a ladder to lift him up and provide him relief.
I had found my words. It was just a car. I didn’t say “I told you so” but instead thanked him for spending 4 hours of his day traveling out of town to pick up the table and chairs.
As we aspire to become a crown to our husband rather than a cancer, God will continue to polish us into more beautiful jewels. The amazing thing is that at the same time we are turned into a crown, our placement in our husband’s life also promotes him to be more successful and confident. No one speaks kindly of cancer, but numerous people desire jewels. So which one will we choose to be?
This revelation doesn’t just apply to wives and husbands. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that death and life are in the power of the tongue. As we go through our days we have the power to build others up or tear them down. May our words be sprinkled with salt and grace as we speak truth in love. And sometimes, like the old adage says, if you cant’ say something nice, it’s better to say nothing at all. Let us build one another up, for harsh words are the enemy’s foothold and delight.
Thank you, God, for your steadfast word that is the ultimate truth and guide for our lives. Lord, may you be the guard of my mouth keeping watch over the door of my lips. May my words be filled with truth and grace and be helpful in building others up and evermore close to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.