Every culture has a language and the culture of emotional safety and joy is no different. As in the previous posts, we will look at this topic within the context of marriage. Why? Because marriage sets the tone. Remember, this series is all about creating a culture which makes home a desirable place to be. Language plays a huge role in this endeavor! How we speak to our spouse matters tremendously and has the ability to create- or destroy- emotional safety in the home. In today’s post we will look at two guiding principles of the language that creates emotional safety.
Pricinciple #1: Language must be edifying. The language we use with our spouse must be aimed at building up rather than tearing down. Can you imagine how different our marriages would be if everything we said were put through this filter? How much more loving, uplifting, and emotionally safe they would be? It’s unsurprising then that God’s word is not silent on the topic of language. Ephesians 4:29 instructs us to not let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths, but only what is good for building others up according to their needs. When life gets busy and/or when tensions run high, it’s easy to forget this principle. But the reality is we have the tremendous opportunity and privilege of building our partners up by encouraging, guiding, and equipping them with our words.
The Old Testament was not silent on this topic either! Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” While apples of gold in a setting of silver may not mean much to us, this is likely a reference to a column of silver adorned by carved fruit of gold. Such a piece of art was considered opulent and beautiful. (https://www.gotquestions.org/apples-gold-settings-silver.html). The point of this verse is that our words- when rightly spoken and fitting to the situation- are just as beautiful and valuable. A wonderful reminder of the power of our words and the importance of being intentional with them.
Principle #2: Speaking Truth in Love. As we well know, difficult conversations are necessary within marriage. We can’t escape this reality! Speaking truth matters. Being honest with our partners about our thoughts and feelings matters. Confronting sin matters. And yet, without love our words become the resounding gong or clanging cymbal of 1 Corinthians 13. As in the first principle above, the intention of speaking truth should be our spouse’s edification. If we’re using our words as weapons to “prove a point” or “win the argument,” our own interests, rather than our spouse’s, are likely in view.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul communicated some hard truths regarding both their behavior and division within the church. He communicates very clearly and directly in chapters 3 and 4 for the purpose of the church’s edification. Yet, his tone of love and concern prevails. “I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children” (1 Corinthians 4:14). As we communicate truth to our spouses, may we make it our goal to emulate Paul’s example.
With these principles in mind, tomorrow we will turn our attention to 4 practical applications for everyday conversation with our spouse.