A gentle answer turns away wrath

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"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1

After twenty-five years of being single, Sandy was finally marrying the man of her dreams. Sandy, had been dating Larry for four years and thought she knew him inside-out. Their courtship had its ups and downs, but all things considered, she knew their love was so strong that living happily ever after would be as natural as waking up in the morning.

The wedding day finally came, and it was everything she had dreamed about-Larry really was Prince Charming. Then came the honeymoon. Almost immediately she began to see a side of Larry she didn't know existed. On the fourth day of the honeymoon, Larry decided Sandy would enjoy seeing where he used to work in the summers during college. So they began their five-mile hike at the 8,000-foot level of the High Sierras (something every woman dreams of doing on the fourth day of her honeymoon). By the time they arrived at their destination, she was exhausted. Since they had to be back at the lodge by dark, they had time for only a short rest.

By the time they got back to the camp, she had a new concept of physical exhaustion. Prince Charming was tired too, so they immediately went to bed. (Actually, he leaped and she crawled.) To her total amazement, the Prince didn't want to go to sleep-he had more exciting things in mind. From that point on, she began to see marriage as a growing conflict between two self-natures that wanted their own needs met before considering the needs of another.

She had entered marriage thinking Larry would be dedicating himself to meeting her needs. After all, he said in his wedding vows that he would love and cherish her for better or for worse, for rich or for poor, in sickness and in health, until death. In his particular vows, which he had written, he even said he committed himself to provide for all of her needs for the rest of his life. But the vows were quickly becoming mere ceremonial words, and her needs were obviously becoming secondary to his.

She thought she could change him through confrontation by demanding in various ways that he become considerate of her needs. After eight years, things had only become worse. She finally resigned herself to the fact that her relationship with Larry would never improve. Larry, of course, was convinced that the marriage problems were Sandy's fault. He considered her demanding and argumentative. She no longer respected or appreciated him as she had when they were dating.

Today, six years later, Larry is no longer the same self-centered, inconsiderate, demanding husband that he was. Sandy's eyes sparkle when she talks about all the ways he shows his love for her daily, the way he considers her desires even above his own needs. He has become the sensitive husband she always dreamed about. He provides all the strength she'll ever need and yet loves her with gentleness and care. WHAT HAPPENED? Simply stated, Sandy began using THREE important principles whenever she approached Larry about his insensitivity to her.

No one likes to be criticized, regardless of how much truth lies behind the criticism. Whether, we are male or female, six or sixty, when someone corrects us, we automatically become defensive. Yet honest communication is vital to marriage. These two basic truths appear contradictory. How do you honestly tell the one you love about something you find displeasing or aggravating without prompting, that familiar, defensive glare or indifferent shrug?

The following three principles outline a method of approaching your husband. A husband is far more apt to receive your comments about his insensitivity when he hears them expressed through these three principles.

  1. Learn to express your feelings through three loving attitudes: warmth, empathy, and sincerity. These are common words, but what do they mean? Warmth is the friendly acceptance of a person. Empathy is the ability to understand and identify with a person's feelings. Sincerity is showing a genuine concern for a person without changing your attitude toward him when circumstances change.
  2. Learn to share your feelings when angry or irritated without using "you" statements and instead replacing them with "I feel" statements.
  3. Learn to wait until your anger or feelings of irritability have subsided before you begin to discuss a sensitive issue.

Lord, help me express myself in such a way that my spouse knows deeply of my love and admiration.

2002 Smally Online. Used by permission.