How to stop saying the right thing the wrong way

Abbie Sharpe

As a full-time working mother of three daughters with a fourth on the way, I daydream about ordering takeout for dinner and coming home and crashing. 

Instead, I pick up my girls from after-school care, drive home and cook a somewhat healthy dinner, check homework folders, coordinate baths, assist with homework projects, walk the dog, and find time for a board game or story time. If it is soccer or ballet night, throw in those responsibilities, too, but substitute the somewhat healthy dinner with Chick-Fil-A. 

If you could peek in my living room, you would likely find my husband on the couch watching Netflix without a care in the world. Meanwhile, I race around like a mad woman huffing and sighing and probably slamming a dish or five. My body language alone probably scares my husband to the core. And heaven forbid he ask if I need help — you can probably guess what my response sounds like!

Several nights of this particular scenario leads to an argument or a scoreboard of who does more around the house, and I am gently reminded that barking orders and doling out chores can be done in a much nicer demeanor. (Cue my mother’s old saying about attracting more flies with honey than vinegar.) 

I wish I was the type of wife that didn’t slam pans or bark orders or glare at my sweet endearing husband all nice and relaxed on the couch. I want to be the wife who controls her frustration and asks for help instead of resenting him for not knowing how to help.

Husbands and wives are wired differently. So often, it feels like I'm saying the right things in the wrong way and I’m left wondering, “Is it possible to communicate with my spouse in a way that is honest but doesn’t end in a fight?”

Keys to Remember When Getting Your Point Across

1. How I speak to my spouse matters just as much as what I say.

There’s a big difference between asking for help and telling my husband what to do. Often, I allow frustration to seep into my voice, scalding my husband with vinegar. 

Before speaking, check your tone. As Proverbs 29:11 says, “Fools give vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.” Keep your temper in check and your emotions out of your voice. Let honey coat your words and speak your mind in a respectful manner.

2. Pay attention to body language.

Slamming dishes or sighing loudly may not be the best way to get my point across (although it certainly feels good in the moment). Colossians 4:6 advises to “...be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Not only can I hurt my spouse with my words, but a scowl and arms crossed over my chest don’t exactly portray grace and compassion. Defensive body language gives the impression my husband has lost the argument before it even begins. Keeping my body in a position that is open for input and discussion (i.e. no scowling or shaking my finger) will allow my spouse to be more receptive to what I have to say. 

3. Think before speaking.

If only this were as easy as it sounds. Too often, married couples reach a certain level of familiarity and comfort with each other that all filters are removed. Since our spouse is our partner, we assume we can say whatever comes to mind because their job is to love us anyway. 

Scripture begs to differ. We have heard the tongue is sharper than any two-edged sword. Psalm 141:3 is a great prayer to pray internally before we speak. Proverbs 13:3 also warns of the danger of letting loose words fly.

4. Lead your spouse to better answers rather than disparaging them.

In the heat of an argument, it seems hard to believe the problem is not 100 percent your spouse’s fault. And painful as it may be to admit, chances are you are just as much at fault as your spouse. God united husband and wife in marriage — two unique sets of personalities and opinions, which may vary greatly. 

Colossians 4:2-5 advises Christians to be thankful and wise in the way we act. Keeping the conversation open for input and including a little praise or encouragement can go a long way to helping your spouse hear your point of view. For example, letting my husband know I appreciate all he does while asking for his help around the house shifts the focus of the conversation from placing blame to solving the problem. 

Marriage is challenging, but that’s part of what makes it sanctifying. Each confrontation or problem is an opportunity to practice what the Bible teaches us about loving others. 

Marriage is challenging, but that’s part of what makes it sanctifying. Each confrontation or problem is an opportunity to practice what the Bible teaches us about loving others. 

So allow the Lord to speak to you on how to speak to your spouse and pray over the Scripture regarding how to do so. At the end of the day, your spouse wants to be on the same page as you. So let’s communicate with our spouses in love and encouragement and watch how the Lord blesses our conversations at home.

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