I will never forget the shocked response I got from a group of people when I said that I love Jesus more than I love my wife while my wife was present. And she agreed with me and said the same is true for her. I am convinced that most couples split up not because they don’t love each other but because they don’t love Jesus, more than one another. These phrases elevate one person over the other thus making this a self-centered relationship, instead of Christ-centered. Here are four phrases that content married couples never say to each other, and one they always do:
1. Archeological Phrases. Remember when you, How about the time you, Last week you, When we just got married you, When we were at that party you, etc. These are phrases that intentionally dig up what happened in the past. Here is the thing: Stop trying to remember what someone has long forgotten. Stop trying to recall what has long been forgiven. Your marriage is not an archeological site so put away the shovel, the neon vest and the hard hat. Repent, reconcile, forgive, forget and move on.
2. Blame Shifting Phrases. But you did the same thing, It’s not as bad as what you did, How is that my fault, It has nothing to do with me, etc. These phrases are said specifically to make one person feel superior over another. Because the blame is shifted, you are no longer responsible. Often, blame shifting is used as a defense mechanism to avoid facing reality. The more you blame shift, the less you value one another. If it was your fault, ask for forgiveness, apologize and own up to your mistake.
3. Superlative Phrases. You always do this, You never do this, You can’t ever get things right, You always get lost, You do this every time, You can’t be relied on ever, you get the picture. These phrases exaggerate to a painful degree the actual reality. Most likely your spouse is not guilty of being wrong every time. But, because of emotional build-up, the only way you can express yourself is to use over-inflated phrases to get your point across. This happens every time you try to prove a point. You see what I did there? Exactly. This is what it feels like to be spoken to in superlatives. It does great damage to a relationship because again, you are de-valuing your spouse. You make them feel like they are incompetent, unable to do anything and generally are good for nothing. Don’t ever use superlatives in your conversations again. You will be better because of it.
4. Suspicion Phrases. I knew this was going to happen, Why am I not surprised, I can’t believe you would do this, etc. These phrases immediately assume the worst. If your spouse tells you about an issue that happened at work, you ask if they are getting fired. If you tell your spouse that you had car trouble, they ask if the car is totaled. If you don’t pick up your phone or return a text immediately, upon connecting with your spouse they are breathless because they have called all the local hospitals. There needs to be a level of trust built within a relationship. Trust is built slowly and lost quickly. Presume that your spouse has the best intentions. Start with the positive in mind. This will ease the tension and create a conversation that will have a positive outcome.
Here is the one type of phrase that most happily married couples use frequently in their relationship:
1. Complimenting Phrases. Most couples that I have seen who have an amazing relationship with their spouse, constantly speak well of their spouse. They speak well of their spouse both publicly and privately. It is no wonder that the Apostle Paul says that the woman is the glory of man (1 Cor. 11:7). As a man treats his wife so she will be. Either shining with delight and glory or barely shimmering and subdued. Compliment your spouse with a variety of compliments and do this frequently. Every negative interaction that you have will take an additional four to five positive interactions to restore it back to normal. This is why encouragement is the fuel that keeps the relationship alive.
I am convinced that no matter how great our relationships may be, they could always get better. By eliminating these four phrases from the interactions with our spouse, we are well on our way to displaying the gospel of Jesus within the context of marriage.
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Question: What other phrase would you add to this list? Jump into the conversation and help someone out.