Stories, thoughts and reflections on the Bible from the WSFC Staff.
Today, June 17, happens to be my wedding anniversary. Forty-one years of uninterrupted happiness for Sandy and me. (I used to be such a handsome young man. Just ask her.) This morning, I encountered a young couple whose wedding day is Friday of this week. Seeing them so happy and full of anticipation, as well as coffee with my wife this morning, was a perfect reminder that love, when it is based on God’s motives, is refreshing and renews itself. 1 Corinthians 13 says, Love never fails. I know, I know… many of us, perhaps you included, have had days in our “history of love” that seem very much like failures. But love never fails in you, if you don’t quit.
So, beginning today, my forty-first wedding anniversary, let’s discuss seven things you can do (or not do, as the case may be), to succeed in loving your wife. If you’re not married, then think about the girl of your dreams.
Rule Number One: Don’t say everything you think
Honestly, the most important thing you can do for your wife, or others in your life, is to slow down the linkage between your quick-witted brain and your tongue. Speaking too quickly might very well be the main cause of the loss of love, and the loss of trust among all members of the human race. Married couples are a microcosm for the study of the effect of words, tone of voice, and relationship building.
If you’re like me, you’re usually the one hearing things and then reacting verbally. If your words are sharp or express disagreement easily, then slow yourself down next time before speaking.
There’s a guiding verse in the letter from James in the New Testament that has helped me, not only in conversations with Sandy, but whenever I let God’s wisdom help me:
“Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, because the anger of a man does not work the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20)
I’m as capable of sharp-tongued words as you are when I’m irritated, impatient, or feel misunderstood, especially by my wife. Anger doesn’t always come out as high-volume emotion. Sometimes we express anger in differing tones of voice, a sort of superiority, sarcasm or criticism. But the question is – what do you intend to accomplish by being so quick to speak, or angry? I’m not saying that you can’t accomplish something meaningful with your words. Rather, I suggest that you ask yourself, and God, the question. God used James to bring it up, so what might He be trying to teach you? Here’s what I believe the Lord intends for us to learn: When you speak quickly, when you get angry, it’s because you believe that you have identified the way things should be and you’re trying to put things right – just as quickly as possible. If your tongue has a hair-trigger you can do real damage; damage that you probably don’t intend.
Look back at James 1:20 – “…the anger of a man does not work … righteousness…”. You are trying to put things right by the words and the tone you choose. Sometimes you find yourself choosing some pretty questionable expressions, don’t you? Righteousness: Godly or correct practices, right ways leading to successful outcomes. The giant problem that we have among us humans is that we don’t naturally do things right. It’s the famous problem of human nature. We excuse ourselves (but not others much) with the tired phrase, nobody’s perfect! God, on the other hand, does all things right, especially in the ways of love. God (Father, Son, and Spirit) is righteous. In the book of Romans in the New Testament, we learn that among mankind, “none is righteous, no not one…”. So you must look to Him and wait for His leading to confirm what is right. It’s complicated so take it slow.
Do you want to increase the sweetness of love in your marriage? Start with something that you choose to not do. Don’t say everything that you think. Go slow for a couple of seconds … really, that’s about enough time to check with the Lord about the next thing you want to say. What do you want the outcome of the conversation to be?