A patient person [shows] great understanding, but a quick-tempered one promotes foolishness. – Proverbs 14:29 HCSB
One of the greatest gifts we can give is an honest answer. Though it may take a while to be truly appreciated, any wise person will value honesty over flattery. Being dishonest with our spouse is as harmful as physical abuse and in the end, will only cause trouble. El Emet expects and deserves truthful followers, so we need to strive for honesty and openness with each other, especially about our motives.
However, honesty must be balanced with grace. It is tempting to launch into a tirade listing all the other person’s faults when we are angered. Yet, we need to resist this urge, if for no other reason than the shame of being quick-tempered. We need to keep in mind that every time we demonstrate patience under pressure, we build not only our character, but our esteem in the other person’s eyes.
The natural human tendency is to fight fire with fire, but Spirit-empowered Christians know that the only way to quench the flames of strife is through gentle patience. It’s a lot easier to nip the argument in the bud than to stop it once it gains momentum.
The conversation of Christian spouses should be characterized by sacrificial love and a quiet spirit that borders on reticence to speak. If our spouses lose their tempers, we should walk away until they can calm down.
We are allowed to be angered by sin or frustrated by miscommunication, but we must never allow our emotions to drive us into sin or base, corrupt speech. After all, there will some day be an accounting for every word that comes out of our mouth. We should never allow a mocking spirit to cause us to belittle our spouse and it goes without saying that gossiping about our marital troubles will only make things worse!
Instead, we should practice active listening, motivated by a humble spirit that is constantly asking, “Lord, have I done wrong?”
Loving consideration for our spouse should be our priority, being careful about prejudging or jumping to conclusions, giving them the benefit of the doubt and resisting the impulse to bring up past wrongs. We should be concerned for our spouse and seek to discover what is causing their frustration.
We must think carefully before speaking, taking long pauses for silent prayer if necessary; not only to avoid saying something stupid but in order to say the most helpful, healing thing possible. This habit can actually bring a lot of personal satisfaction.
Finally, we should be trying to live blameless lives that do not cause irritation but instead are a source of strength and refreshment to our spouse. We should not merely promise change but actually come through with action.
I know this advice is impossible for a mere human to follow – but with God’s power anything is possible.
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