I knew I was saying too much as the words came out of my mouth. I knew I needed to watch my mouth, end the conversation, and try again when I had a better grip on my tongue and my mind. But I didn’t. I just kept flinging word bombs left and right, blowing things sky high between my husband and me.
How much relational damage could be prevented if we all just had the self-control to filter our mouths a little more? Especially in marriage, where we often deal with the conflicts of everyday life when we’re tired or frustrated. It’s a recipe for disaster!
Until you’re more composed and have had, at least, a moment to think about what you really want or need to say, may we suggest the following action plan:
- Stop talking.
- Think of a constructive, noncombative way to say it.
Seriously, we each have a tremendous opportunity to strengthen or weaken our relationships every time we speak. Learn the art of controlling the tongue and better marriage communication will follow!
We each have a tremendous opportunity to strengthen or weaken our relationships every time we speak.
Sounds too easy, right? But simply slowing the pace of the conversation can give you precious seconds in which to consider your words more carefully. Take a deep breath. Take a rest room time-out. Do whatever it takes to keep the word train from building up too much speed.
Filter your words through the three checkpoints.
This works in conversation with anyone to make your words more helpful, less hurtful. Ask yourself:
- Is it true?
- Is it kind?
- Does he/she need to know it?
If your next statement fails on any of these counts, keep it to yourself. Also, steer clear of these 4 Negative Styles of Fighting with your spouse.
Listen and ask questions.
By listening more closely to what your spouse has to say, you lessen the chance of saying something incorrect or otherwise inflammatory. Try even bouncing his statement back to him to make sure you understand what he’s saying. For instance: “Okay. So if I’m hearing you correctly, you’re saying that you’re not so concerned that we were late for the dinner, but that my habit of being late a lot makes you feel like I don’t care about your desire to be on time. Is that right?” Be restating the problem until your both clear about what the true conflict is, you can spare yourselves the frustration of talking around the problem without ever addressing it effectively.
Check out Greg Smalley’s 5 Harmful Marriage Communication Habits to see if one of the less productive styles of communicating has crept into your life.
What are some ways you have learned to watch your mouth in your marriage?
Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.