Words flow easily and freely from me. For better or for worse, I love to open my mouth and be heard.
Yet, while words may come easily to me, it seems that the one person all my wrath, unpleasantness, and nasty words are reserved for is my husband. The one person who means the most to me in all the world receives the worst of my criticisms, and the most hateful of my words.
It becomes so easy to take him for granted because he’s always there, right? Even if I say something nasty, he’s stuck with me – so what does it matter if my words are not so pleasant some of the time?
But, no matter how strong my marriage is, I can’t take for granted my husband’s patience and loyalty. Instead, his faithfulness to me should spur me to use my words to draw him closer, rather than push him away. It’s so easy to forget that it was with an outpouring of sweetness and praise that I won this man’s heart and that by neglecting to give him the very best of my communication, I am betraying that trust he had in me when we first got married. I am trampling on the heart he gave me. Because, when he said, “I do,” he chose me to be the one to fill all his needs for love, kindness, and daily companionship.
And yet so often I use my words to hurt him. They come so easily, and yet they are so hard to take back. They can build up or tear down a relationship in seconds. Every time I open my mouth, I can choose to use those words to strengthen our bond, or potentially unravel it.
Sometimes I forget how simple it is to say something that will bring us closer. It’s not difficult at all. All it takes is a little swallowing of our pride and an opening of our hearts.
Here are 6 short and sweet phrases that have the potential to save your marriage.
As my mum once told me, “The one who says sorry first, wins.” And who doesn’t like to win? Contrary to how saying sorry sometimes feels in prospect to my prideful heart, I don’t give up my power when I say sorry, I display my strength of character. I actually win. I win back my spouse’s heart and trust. I don’t have to lose another moment of my precious life arguing. I win.
Whether you feel like you were in the wrong or not, if there is conflict there is likely something you can say to diffuse it. Like it or not, good intentions do not equal innocence. A sincere apology can bring two people back together and dissolve an enormous amount of hurt, so resolve to say sorry quickly and sincerely for anything you can say sorry for.
Even if it has been a long time since you have offended your spouse, still say sorry. It is never too late. Actually, it beings an enormous flood of relief to have hurts held long ago validated with a sincere apology, however late that apology comes.
Justin Bieber asked, “Is it too late now to say sorry?” And the answer is an emphatic, “No.” Go, swallow your pride and say what is necessary, right now. Don’t waste another moment with bitterness and resentment unsolved between you. You’ll be amazed at how much power and healing these two little words hold when they are delivered with an earnest that springs out of a heart filled with love.
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26).
“I love you.”
These words, to some of us, may seem redundant. Cliche. Overused. Yet, for all their years of use and misuse they still retain their beauty. My husband and I end every conversation we have with a “love you” and a kiss, yet this ritual hasn’t lost its meaning. What if this was our last goodbye? Wouldn’t we want it to be graced with words of love and affirmation? However overused these words may seem, they still express an important sentiment. “Even after all this time, I love you, and I’m going to continue to remind you of that until the day I die.”
“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love” (Song of Solomon 2:4).
“What were we fighting about again?”
Have you ever been in the middle of a conflict and then suddenly realised that you have no idea what on earth you began fighting about in the first place? The argument seems to be running around and getting nowhere. You persist in trying to win at something to no real end and for no real reason.
When conflict arises from pettiness, it is easy for the argument to grow out of proportion into something fierce and ugly. It is easy to make mountains of hurt out of molehills of dirty socks, used coffee cups, and muddy footprints – exalting folly in our hastiness (Proverbs 14:29) – but in the end, it’s just not worth it, is it?
I can’t remember who it was who gave me the advice to simply say, “Why are we fighting again?” but itwas some sage advice. Sometimes the simplest and sweetest way to end a conflict is to simply laugh about it. Remember how stupid the argument was in the first place, point it out, and laugh. Laughter brings people together. You don’t always need to argue your point, sometimes you can simply refuse to continue fighting and diffuse the situation with a smile.
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29).
“I want you.”
So many couples report wanting more intimacy in their marriages, and the lack of intimacy is one of the number one reasons for divorce. Yet, for all that, we seem reluctant to talk about sex with our spouses and express our desires. Showing an interest in your spouse can reignite the feelings you felt when you were first married.
Do you remember how much you wanted them? How much they wanted you? Didn’t that make you feel attractive? Send your partner a text, give him a call, or give him a passionate kiss when he gets home and tell him just how attractive he is. Do this often. Intimacy is something your marriage needs often to thrive. God talks about it for a reason.
For more about how to communicate your sexual needs to your husband, see this article.
“Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow. Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits” (Song of Solomon 4:16).
“What can I do for you?”
As well as saying “I love you,” it is important to do things for your spouse that make them feel loved. Because this is different for everyone, it is important to ask and ask often. A good resource that can help you with understanding your partner’s needs and what makes them feel loved is the book The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman.
I love words of affirmation and praise but for my husband it means so much more if I do something for him. He often has a few little projects he would like me to complete which can be so easy for me to neglect and overlook. But, if I really love my husband and want him to feel loved, I am going to do my best to love him in the way he needs to be loved.
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:17, 18).
Showing your appreciation is so important. Do you like it when you do something for someone and they refuse to acknowledge it? When others fail to thank us for acts of service that we do, it often discourages us from doing it again.
It is easy to take our spouses for granted, thinking they are always here and they should be helping us around the house because they live here. Well, ok, perhaps they should – but does it really hurt to just thank them anyway? I’ve gotten into the habit of thanking my husband for all the little things he does, like taking out the trash, as well as all the big things, like providing for our family, taking care of the finances. Even if he doesn’t need so much thanks, I need to keep thanking him – because I don’t want to take what he does for our family for granted. Thankfulness is as good for us as it is for those we thank.
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” (Philippians 1:3).
We can be tempted to think it is the big, grand, romantic experiences that hold us together and bind us close, but what matters more are the little things we give each other – day in, day out. It is amazing what power our tongues hold.
“So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!” (James 3:5)
But we need to remember that it is us who choose what power our tongues hold – whether we allow the destructive wildfire to grow higher and consume our marriage, or whether we fan the flames of passion that cause our hearts to burn for one another.
Your words are so powerful. Let the words you choose bind you to the one you love.