Silence vs. Speaking

As I look through my workbook from a Weekend to Remember, I recognize a tool I need to keep with me at all times–silence vs. speaking.

This section of the workbook outlines four different ways to express ourselves that will help build up a marriage.

1. Think before you speak. Determine what you want to say and when to say it.

A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word. Proverbs 15:23

This one can get me into trouble. First of all, I have a bad habit of blurting out whatever comes to mind when I’m around familiar people. In my head, something may sound harmless, but if I think about someone saying it to me, I might reconsider altogether. Timing is also important. Right before heading into church or going to sleep is probably not the best time to bring up a conflict or annoyance. For me, the going to sleep one gets me often–the “Honey, something’s been bothering me…” right before we’re rolling over to go to sleep. The better option would be to set aside time daily to discuss things that come up. What’s really helped Mark and me is having an hour and a half every day that we communicate about our day and thoughts. It’s nice how our late night problem-solving hasn’t come up as often. If you don’t have time, make it. Even if it’s for 45 minutes. If we don’t take time to communicate, growth may diminish.

2. Not everything you are feeling needs to be expressed. Sometimes silence is best.

When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise. Proverbs 10:19

I need to silence my discouragement. My husband is to lean on me, and I on him. We’re a team.  If he made a huge blunder in public and is embarrassed, along with me also, there is no need to make him feel worse with an “I told you so” or “Why’d you do that?” There are also times when I feel annoyed with him, but I know if I discourage him he will give up on what he’s trying so diligently to do. At those times, I need to pray to God for help and that God will take care of it and help my husband succeed. This has worked many times.

3. Ask to make sure you are being understood.

As the book Love and Respect says, men have blue hearing aids, and women have pink ones. They pick up different sounds–meanings. By asking Mark, “When I said this, what did you hear?” I’ll know if I need to better explain myself. What may be obvious to me, may not catch his radar. For example, I may not want to go to an Asian buffet for dinner because we’ve been eating there too much and I can’t fit in my jeans anymore. What I tell Mark when he asks is, “Asian again? I’d rather eat somewhere else.” He looks sad because he’s been planning to take me there all week. “Okay, what about Pizza Hut’s buffet?” I answer with, “I don’t really want to go there, either.” He gets frustrated because he feels like I can’t be pleased. All I want is somewhere healthy to eat, but since I never mentioned that, he can’t win. He doesn’t have the info he needs to make me happy.

Bottom line–there needs to be direct communication.

What can happen when we keep our answers brief and don’t address the actual issue, is that a miscommunication can turn a simple talk into a big argument–over “nothing.” We sometimes think that people understand our intentions and behind-the-scenes thought process, but they don’t. We have to share our needs. Being up front in a kind and loving way is the key.

4. Speak in a way that encourages.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Wow, I need to follow that a lot more! If something isn’t useful to build up, it will only tear down others and ourselves. Everything said in the dark will come to the light. What does my daily vocabulary consist of? Positives or negatives? Loving words about others or gossip? Joy or sorrow?

The good news is that God can take any bad part of us and cast it away. All we need to do is have faith that He is able.

Action: Choose one of the above to work on today. If you’re up for the challenge, you can try it for a week. Pray that God would change your heart and grant you patience as you set out to make a positive difference in the lives around you.