Did you know that my husband is an open book with a transparent cover and see-through pages?! I always know exactly where I stand with him at just about every moment in our marriage. This can be a good thing most of the time. I’m grateful for his openness and willingness to clear the air.
But sometimes it becomes a not-so-good-thing, especially when I’m in a not-so-receptive-place.
When we were first married, Gary never let me get away with “sweeping issues under the rug.” He was not about to let us slide into oblivion over accumulated resentments and unspoken grievances.
Most days, I saw this as a right and good marriage policy. But then there were times when I longed for him to show a little discretion with the negative thoughts or feelings that popped into his head, especially in the heat of the moment. It seemed that he could not hold back on airing his concerns right then and there. In his defense, he absolutely hated the distance it created between us.
First of all, I want to say at the outset, I asked my husband’s permission before sharing this with you. He granted it, as he so often does! And for the record, he has since changed his perspective and practice on this.
Last week I dove into the topic of the unfair task of being transparent in marriage, even when it might lead to conflict. So this week’s focus might seem to contradict what I said last week. But I hope you’ll see how it most definitely does not.
[bctt tweet=”There is a need for both vulnerability with our own failures and discretion with pointing out our spouse’s. #truthandgrace ” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
3 Excuses We Give for Not Holding Our Tongues
1. It’s how we truly feel.
If we feel this way, we might even protest, “Doesn’t the truth matter?” It does matter, but maybe not as much as discretion and patience does in a particular moment of conflict.
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. —Ephesians 4:15
If we are moved to speak the truth, then we are to speak it in love. If we can’t speak it in love, then we should, quite frankly, bite our tongues until we can! 😉
2. It clears the air.
There are times when I’m just as brash and unmercifully honest about how I feel with my husband as he can be with me. My agenda is to simply clear the air of some longstanding issue. When I take this tack, I’m typically coming at him with judgment rather than mercy. Instead, you and I should consider this verse before opening our mouths …
There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. —James 2:13 (NLT)
I don’t know about you, but I desperately want and need mercy!
3. It helps the one “airing” to feel better … temporarily.
Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back. —Proverbs 29:11 (NLT)
Isn’t that the bottom line for the majority of times we let our angry words fly at our mates? We simply want to make ourselves feel better—to get something off our chest. Sadly, we typically aren’t thinking about how it will impact our mates. We only want to bring peace and healing to our hearts. That’s never a good reason for sharing how we feel in a messy moment.
Besides, as mentioned above …
[bctt tweet=”Feeling better never lasts when it is at the expense of our mates. #unbridledtruth #usediscretion #unfairtask” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
4 Key Times When We Should Zip Our Lips and Be All Ears
1. When the timing is not right.
A time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, … —Ecclesiastes 3:7
My husband and I now respect the boundary (that either of us sets) of not talking about a matter in the heat of the moment. For me, I need time to cool down or I know I will say things that I regret. Timing is so important to consider when tempers flare or emotions run high.
2. If being quiet brings healing and help.
An important verse to keep in mind is …
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. —Ephesians 4:29
So the next time you don’t know whether or not to share “your truth” with your mate, ask yourself this simple question:
“Will this bring help and healing to my mate’s heart in this moment?”
You cannot say “yes” if your “constructive criticism” brings help and healing only after your mate has calmed down. Your mate needs to find the benefit immediately. The benefit or healing for you in a particular moment is not the most important thing to consider here!
[bctt tweet=”Let your motive for sharing your truth be guided by grace and sacrifice, not self-preservation and justice. #graceandtruth” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
3. As a way to show wisdom and understanding to your mate.
The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. —Proverbs 17:27-28
I have been moved to love my mate more deeply when he has shown restraint, understanding of my emotions, and compassion toward my mistakes and offenses. It breaks down every barrier I feel in that moment of conflict. He truly wins me over with his wisdom and self-restraint.
4. When patient listening and self-control are needed.
This is probably one of the prime times holding our truth feels and even is unfair in marriage. Humans long to be heard and acknowledged above almost any other response. So why is it so difficult to extend a listening ear to our mates rather than a flapping tongue?
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
When we hold our tongues and give the gift of listening to our mates, we avoid misunderstandings. If we are self-controlled and give them the opportunity to be heard first, we lower their defenses. Best of all, we produce and develop righteousness in our character, which is what God most desires. So we get two for one—blessing our mates and blessing our Lord!
Who doesn’t want that in the end? I know I do!
What is another time when we should remain in listening mode with our mates?
What makes it difficult for you to remain in listening mode when conflicts arise?
I’d love it if you’s also check out my latest LifeLine devotional – Resisting the Pull of Anger at lifelettercafe.com
Here are some lovely linkups I join – Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Mondays, Tea and Word Tuesday, Glimpses Linkup, Break Through Homeschooling Linkup, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, Grace and Truth, Grace Moments Linkup, Tune in Thursday, Moments of Hope, Faith and Friends, Fresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday
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