When I heard my exact words spoken to me in my own tone of voice, I realized how cutting they could be.
My husband had just said something very unkind to me, in a tone of voice that was just uncalled for! But as much as I hate to admit it, I had said exactly the same thing to him only minutes before. Hmmmm. I learned two valuable lessons that day: Words do hurt, and it does matter how you say them.
We all know the verse in Ephesians that says, “Husbands love your wives, and wives respect your husbands.” I’m sure most of us can quote it. We actually put the reference to this verse on the inside of Nate’s ring. So he wouldn’t forget! ;^ ) But it wasn’t until about year seven that we really started to understand how that verse actually plays out. We knew we needed to do it, and we were actually trying to show love and respect to each other. But what we didn’t realize was how many times our actions and words told the opposite story. There were many times when the way I said my words or the body language I was using was actually showing Nate disrespect and causing him hurt. Now, I might have thought I was doing well by holding my tongue or not saying what I really thought. But because I didn’t control my tone of voice or my facial expressions, the face and tone overrode anything that did or didn’t come out.
I actually had to learn to listen to my own voice and pay attention to how I held my body. I am a very expressive person. Just watch my kids – the apple doesn’t fall too far from this tree! When I speak or even listen to someone, my face lights up with expression. I am also a terrible liar, which is a good thing most of the time. Lastly, I am also very opinionated. This trio has gotten me in trouble multiple times. In certain situations, my facial expressions would respond to a situation far before my words even left my mouth. This is where I had to learn the valuable lesson that actions do many times speak louder than words.
I would actually be showing Nate disrespect in my actions even if I could control my tongue. When he made a suggestion, I would say “that is an idea” but my actions would show irritation for him wanting to do something different than what I had planned. When he was late from work, telling him “that was okay, we will just eat when you get home” was overridden by a cold shoulder when he walked in the door. He wasn’t really able to put it into words either, but my actions made him feel disrespected.
A couple verses come to mind as we discuss this:
1 Peter 3:1 (NIV) Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words but by the behavior of their wives
Proverbs 31:12 (NIV) She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
So as we come up on Father’s Day this weekend, think about the tone of voice and body language you use in speaking to your spouse. Are they displaying respect or disrespect? The best Father’s Day gift you can give your husband is a promise to bring him good and not harm. Let him know you are committing today to pay attention to your tone of voice and your body language. If you are brave and you and your husband are in a good spot, you may even ask him if there is anything that you do that makes him feel disrespected. He may be wary of a trap at first ! But even the fact that you take the time to ask shows that you are committing to learn to respect him with your words and actions. Oh and here is a tip that I have learned if you are going to have this conversation….make a rule that you can not respond or become defensive. The first time you talk, just listen. Then think about it and pray about it before you respond. If you become defensive and explain your actions, you will defeat the purpose of asking the question. But if you are open and loving and stick to it, you will be taking the first steps towards radically transforming your marriage! A little bit of respect goes a long way!