Death and Life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. Proverbs 18:21
Dear Sweet Sister:
I recently attended a tea party fit for a princess. Real china and crystal candelabras set the lavish table and soon scones, quiche and chocolate covered strawberries followed. My sweet sister shared her gift of hospitality with five friends by preparing ahead of time and considering every detail. She greeted us with warm enthusiastic hugs and as the tea “steeped” she asked questions of each guest so a new neighbor would feel welcome. Sweets were arranged on a separate table on a three tiered display next to her signature “peace sign”.
But ………..then the carefully prepared picture perfect scene turned sour.
For the conversation turned toward sharing negative things about our husbands. Lighthearted jokes soon snowballed into complaints and ungratefulness. Regrettably, I laughed along and joined the banter.
the gracious and wise hostess offered a suggestion that turned the tide of the rest of our elegant tea party.
“Why don’t we go around the table and state someone good about our husbands? I’ll start..
And then she shared a sweet routine they share when he returns from a business trip. (Her husband puts on a dinner jacket and they dance in the kitchen to celebrate)
Soon the energy flowed as each women shared a positive item. One sister and her spouse text each other the words of songs during the day. “That’s so sweet!…I love that idea”. And soon, because some of us knew each other well, we added additional positive things we knew about our friend’s husband and reminded each other of something we admire about their marriage.
The tide turned from a drip dripping of negative comments that wear away at relationships to a refreshing rain of positive compliments that resulted in new ideas and renewed appreciation.
In the book of proverbs the impact of a wife’s nagging and negative words is compared to an irritating leak…drip, drip, drip.
A nagging wife is like water going drip-drip -drip on a rainy day. Proverbs 27:15
In our Liz Curtis Higgs book study entitled, Bad Girls of the Bible, we learned in the story of Samson and Delilah the impact that words can make. She literally nagged him to “death” as he eventually gave his secret of his strength away and this resulted in not only his demise but the death of thousands of Philistines in the final scene. Before his physical death, her nagging and ultimate betrayed ended in the emotional death of their relationship.
Words can tear down and words can build up. When we bring up negative dirt on our husbands in public, we are rolling ourselves in the mud too as a husband and wife become one flesh when married. Have you heard the phrase about not airing your dirty laundry? What a appropriate comparison for who wants to look or smell dirty laundry?
I know the excuses for I’ve used them myself. “I’m just venting” or “My friends are my therapist”. But a therapist would not personally know your husband and pass on this information. Your friends probably will. In the least, their opinion of your spouse is being infected and healing takes longer the more you pick at a scab. Our role is to protect and nurture our relationships. Unfortunately, we often play the “victim” card and try to get others to feel sorry for ourselves or take our side concerning a differing of opinion.
What should you do the next time you are tempted to focus and discuss a negative quality or action of your spouse? When a friend calls you up and starts to air her own dirty laundry?
Take out some bleach and start scrubbing.
Overpower the negative with the strong bleach of kind words.
Take out a pen and start writing positive things about your own spouse. Then the next time the situation arises say them out loud. When a friend shares some of her own dirty laundry perhaps say to your friend…”I know Joe isn’t perfect but what is something good about him? I’ve always admired this about him or your relationship.” A true friend will support your marriage and help you out of the pit of self-pity.
Do some of these complaints need to be addressed? Maybe. But out of respect for your spouse, pray about it first, asking God for wisdom as to whether this is something to be overlooked or needs to be addressed. Then, if you decide to go to him about your concens, you can clean the laundry together. If you are one flesh, then it is both your responsibility to do the bleaching together rather than individually throwing out the dirty laundry into your front yard. Wouldn’t you rather your spouse come to you then to tell his buddies about your negative qualities or mistakes?
The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. Proverbs 14:1
Challenge: Sit down write now and write 10 positive things about your husband. Better yet, put it on his pillow tonight. Let him know that you see the good in him. Let the healing rain begin and soon you will benefit from the good fruit that will result.