On Wearing a Mouth Guard
By Janel Breitenstein
For a long time, when I snapped at my husband, I called it stress. Or I mentally tagged it “his fault.” Or maybe I would attribute it to the kids, the schedule, the hormones, the unrealistic demands on my life.
But some words of missionary and author Amy Carmichael turned my cycle of blame on its head. She wrote, “A cup brimful of sweetness cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, no matter how suddenly jarred.”
Hmm. Well, I think we can scratch “brimful of sweetness” off the list.
Any marriage counselor or conference or book worth its salt will no doubt address how you’re talking to each other. (... Or aren’t.)
Why does it matter so much?
Because in a lot of ways, communication is the quality and quantity of the connection we share.
Words are the tether between us, disclosing what’s truly in us: “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
A frappuccino sloshes out frappuccino. A cup of acid sloshes out acid.
Our words reflect our hearts. Our communication problems are essentially … heart problems.
What kind of tie exists between you, in light of your communication? What brand of humanity is exposing itself between you? Does it display an eagerness to throw something or someone under the bus—or a heart of graciousness, even when jostled?
We care about our speech because we care about the connection between us. And even more, because we care about our spouses. When you care about the quality of your communication, you understand the role it plays in keeping your love alive—and a relationship that gives life to both of you.
The good stuff: 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)
Action points: Ruthlessly apply the Ephesians 4:29 rule to your own speech:
- No talk that corrupts (breaks down).
- Only talk that builds up.
- Talk with appropriate timing.
- Talk that gives grace to everyone listening.
Visit the FamilyLife® Website