Quick to Listen and Slow to Speak // Communication in Marriage

Marriage has taught me all kinds of things in the last 9 months. Good things, new things, and sometimes not-so-good things about myself. It's been a sweet nine months filled with lots of joy but also a lot of learning on both of our parts. A relationship becomes more than just a relationship when it becomes more of a commitment than just a courtship. 

Lately I've been realizing how wrong I can be. I'm a prideful person, which tends to be par for the course with us humans. I don't necessarily like being wrong, and I sure don't like to admit that I was wrong in the first place. I've been working on being more humble and gentle--an outspoken, prideful woman isn't the kind of wife that God intended me to be. Pride gets in the way of growth and healing between spouses, and that just can't be the way it happens in a marriage. 

The other night, Andrew and I were watching Parenthood together and I casually spouted off some comment that I thought would be funny. The blank stare that I got back from him told me it came off quite differently than I intended it to, and I immediately regretted opening my mouth. And the subsequently, I started trying to cover my tracks and brush it off with other excuses, watering it down with generalizations, anything to make me appear less foolish. 

It hurt his feelings and it turned into an argument because I couldn't just apologize. One of our agreements as husband and wife when it comes to fighting is that if we can't resolve it by discussing it, we need a few minutes apart to cool down, reevaluate, and clear our minds. So naturally, I stomped off, as good wives do, and crossed my arms across my chest and had a fight with God that went something like this:

Me: "But doesn't he know I was just joking? I didn't mean it. It was supposed to be funny. I'm not wrong, he needs to not be so sensitive."
God: "Rachel, you're wrong."
Me: "But God, I shouldn't have to apologize. Can't he just admit he took it the wrong way and it be over?"
God: "Rachel, submit to your husband."
Me: "Ugh, God. Why are you right? I don't want to apologize."
God: "Rachel, child, you're wrong. Apologize."

So I came back to him with my tail between my legs and admitted my wrong-doing and asked him to forgive me. It may not be the easiest thing to do in a marriage, but it's always the right thing. Sometimes I need to put aside my childish way of thinking, when I'm too prideful to admit when I'm wrong, in order to grow and learn and make something beautiful come from the ashes of that argument. 

Satan uses our quick tempered responses as a way to drive a wedge between man and wife--I act like our words don't matter but that's just not the case. The words of my mouth should encourage him and lift him up, not hurt his feelings and require an apology from me. 

I opened my Bible later that night and this verse was staring back at me:
"Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29 
"That it may give grace to those who hear." That part struck me right in the chest--those words of mine did anything but give my husband grace. He deserves a lot more than thrown-together sentences and excuses, he deserves for me to be careful and considerate with my communication, choosing words that restore and strengthen him. Isn't that what I owe him as his wife, his helpmate, his life partner?

There's a reason the Bible tells us in James to be "quick to listen and slow to speak." I think if I held that verse at a little higher importance in our marriage, less arguments would happen and more trust and honesty and openness would grow. The Lord knows I'm quick to speak and slow to think about it first, and He's slowly teaching me to be more gentle in my words, especially to my husband, because we made vows to each other, to honor and to love each other. That's what really matters at the end of the day; that through my marriage, I'm glorifying the Lord. 

Do any of you have trouble with communicating? Are you quick to speak like I am? How do you keep yourself accountable and encouraging with your words? 

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