Today my husband and I took our kids to the park. It's become a part of our daily routine since it tires them out and our new area is so beautiful. I set the baby down and sat on a bench with my water bottle; I thought Brian would join me but I looked up to see him jumping on the swings with the older kids. He looked so funny, being a big burly guy with a full beard, next to our chubby little three-year-old, and he was smiling just as big. I watched him jump off, fly through the air, and chase our daughter across the padded ground onto the play equipment. His laughter was hearty and genuine, and my heart skipped a beat.
My mind flashed to a recent conversation with a friend about the common problem of husband-bashing in Christian women's groups. I remembered a "Bible study" I once joined, excited for a chance to grow and make friends. I went for three weeks, each time hoping I was wrong about the women there, each time being proven right. Every Thursday morning this group of wives and mothers would gather, leave their children with the sitter, pour themselves coffee and put donuts on napkins, then they would sit next to each other and rip their husbands apart, one at a time.
It seemed to me that each woman got more pleasure in this than the one before her- they smiled wide and they laughed loud at one another's husbands, as if each story was a MadLib.
I felt a pain in my stomach.
I offered up a solution or alternative perspective when I could get a word in, but I was usually met with an annoyed "yeah....mmhmm" or "oh I've tried everything and nothing works on him". I remember one woman in particular, whose face I'll never forget, laughing and saying, "he's hopeless!".
Today I watched my husband spin on the kid carousel with our strong-willed child, seemingly erasing the difficult battle he had put us through this morning over breakfast. Both of them wore humongous smiles and laughed from their bellies.
This man, the one I married eight years ago by a lake on a hot September day, he is the most humble, admirable, selfless, most beautiful human being I have ever known. His servant heart for me mirrors the heart of Jesus for His church. His crazy love for our babies reflects God's passionate sacrifice for humanity. It's ridiculous, when I think about it, that I get to be his wife every day. It isn't fair to the world that it gets to be me.
I adore him.
None of this, however, is the reason I don't speak poorly about him. Obviously I'd be lying if I said all these things have nothing to do with it, but it's so much more than that. I believe the roots of honor need to run deeper than admiration, because admiration can easily fade.
Marriage is hard no matter who you're doing life with. People change, moods shift hour by hour, scary things take place, stress becomes overwhelming sometimes, life can be a pretty rough ride. Being tied to another person in matrimony in the midst of all that can be such a blessing, but it can also get pretty messy and feel more difficult than helpful. My point is, we all have a "good excuse" to bash our husbands [by the world's standards] at one point or another. Husbands are human, and they are very different humans than we are, and humans make mistakes.
But when we speak words, in them is a power strong enough to change things, either negatively or positively. Think about that for a moment.
Our words have the power to make us as well as those who are listening believe what we say, to further cement what we speak, to make it even more so, maybe even to make it fact. If you say something, it comes from your heart, and it becomes what you believe.
But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Our words can make us believe what we say about our husbands; they can make our husbands believe what we say about them, and become more like how we describe them, how we tell them they are. Imagine now, using the power of your words to tear down the man you committed to honor.
When we speak poorly of, put down, or mock our husbands, we are not only dishonoring them, pouring negativity into our marriages, and breaking our vows to honor, we are heaping judgement on ourselves.
I tell you, on the day of judgement people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
If the power of life and death is in the tongue, and if you have a husband you feel the need to complain about, maybe using your words to affirm, praise, compliment, and be sweet to him, both when he is present and when he is not, would change things. Maybe it would soften a bitter heart- that could be yours or his. Maybe it would inspire him to love you better. Maybe it would show someone else what true love looks like. Maybe the God you say you serve would be glorified, which is the whole point of marriage in the first place. Maybe you should be the one to change your marriage.
Negativity is the easy way; it comes so naturally to us.
Even today, running through the playground while my husband chased me, I thought about how easy it is to see flaws over the perfections. I thought about our hard times and all the hurtful things I have thought about him. I thought about all the fleeting emotions that swallowed me up and nearly had me spewing his missteps to a friend. I thought about dark nights spent emotionally far apart, hearts hurting, disagreements that seemed insurmountable, betrayal that burned.
As Brian caught me by the swings, took me in his arms and pressed his mouth against mine, I was swallowed up by gratitude. This man is good to me, despite how I've used my words to hurt him, despite how I've been wrong, he is inspiring. And all I want is to use my words to make this life of ours even better, to make him even stronger, and to let him know just how sweetly he has touched my heart.
I pray that that is exactly what I do for the whole of our life together, in Jesus' name.