Maybe this is just a southern saying, but I’ve heard it all my life—“I can say what I want to about my family, but you better not.”
To some degree, I get this saying. We are being protective of our family. I like that. We feel like we have a level of closeness with our family that gives us the right to be more open and honest. We can even speak hard truths when we need to.
But this statement breaks down because on one level it is saying: “I protect my family members from others’ hurtful words, just not from mine.”
3 Steps To Follow
We can get so comfortable with our family that we let down our guards to be who we want to be. It’s easier that way. But it’s not always better that way.
There is a way that is better, every single time. While many of us grew up on the following verse, please don’t miss it:
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20
- Step 1: Quick to listen
- Step 2: Slow to speak
- Step 3: Slow to become angry
I’m fully convinced many a married couple would still be together and would have the marriage they wanted is their actions and words were ran through these steps.
While these steps are easy to understand, there is something in many of us that makes it difficult to live them out. This especially true when we hungry, angry, lonely or tired—when our guard is down.
Guard Your Tongue
When it comes to our words, our guard should always be up, ready to protect our spouse from what can be too easily, comfortably, and destructibility said.
I think the number one person you need to protect your spouse from is you. I think the number one person I need to protect Nancie from is me. Nobody has more power to bring verbal death or life to our spouse that us.
Stand tall spouses. Stand in front of your mouth and say, “No one can say what they want to about my family, especially me.” There now that’s a statement we can all live by.
How do you protect your spouse from yourself?
Ted Lowe is an author, speaker, and the director of MarriedPeople—the marriage division at Orange. Ted is the author of two books—one for marriage ministry leaders (Married People: How Your Church Can Build Marriages That Last) and one for married couples (Your Best US: Marriage Is Easier Than You Think). He served for almost 10 years as the director of MarriedLife at North Point Community Church. He lives near Atlanta, Georgia, with his four favorite people: his wife, Nancie, and their three children.
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Solid advice here. I’ll offer a personal insight from my own 26 years of marriage. The part about being ‘slow to speak’ that James talks about? Well, speaking is a form of communicating…but so is body language. It can be rather easy for me to hold my tongue when my wife or kids are saying something I want to respond to, but I find it often more difficult to maintain awareness (in the moment) of my body movements and/or facial reactions. I’ve been guilty of not saying a word and STILL causing increased negative emotions in the room…simply by shifting my eyes to the floor or raising an eyebrow. Working on this aspect is how I protect my spouse from myself.
Hey Brent, great to see you on here. I miss you and the family! I would like to add to what Brent is saying. It is my TONE that gets me into trouble. If I follow yours and Ted’s advice plus add a portion on the correct tone, I believe my interactions with others would be better.