Put-downs or Praise?

Do you find yourself in a position of nagging ? You know what I am talking about... pointing out the bad habits of your spouse, telling instead of asking, complaining instead of complimenting. How is that working for you?  Put-downs or Praise

If I were sitting and sharing coffee with you, having this conversation face to face I seriously doubt I would hear success stories, in fact I think I would hear more of the complaints and frustrations in between sips of coffee. What does the Bible say about this?

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

James 1: 19-20 says, "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."

How many times have you said something and the situation turned out horrible because the wording was wrong? For example, several years ago my husband was very involved with work. I stayed at home with three young boys. I was often tired and so very needy when he came through the door.  My nagging would start around lunchtime. I would call or email asking what time he would be home.  For the remainder of the day I would check in to make sure it hadn't changed (can you imagine how thrilled he was to rush home?!).

When he walked through the door he was not greeted by a kiss but me handing him a kid and a to do list.  The "to do's" would continue throughout the evening. For some reason, I had it in my head that he needed to be told what to do, when to do it and how to do it. I would not thank him for his hard work at the office all day, but quickly point out he didn't pull his share around the house. I was miserable. He was miserable. So why was I in this cycle of put downs? It sure didn't change things or make us happier.

Then I came to learn that God commands for me to choose my words cautiously. I realized my nagging and negative comments were pushing my husband away when he shared with me he would find reasons to stay at work because he didn't want to come home to the environment that was waiting on him. He felt like a child and I was the reason for it. I was pushing my husband away!

Hear my heart, dear friends! Negative words destroy and tear down. Here is what I learned need to change in me in order to put an end to that cycle.

#1 I learned to pray and seek first God: Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given unto you." Also look at 1 Samuel 1:10-13 and Hannah's example of praying to God in the midst of her anguish.  I learned that in my moment of frustration to seek God and what He would have me do. I learned to lean on Him first.

#2 I learned to encourage and lift up: Ephesians 4:29 "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to to their needs, and that it may benefit those who listen." There are times we need to point issues out, but it can be done through prayer and a careful choice of words. Instead of  "You never do it right, I may as well do it myself" you could say "I appreciate you helping, next time it would be even more helpful if you ..." I was amazed at how just changes in MY behavior changed the dynamic of the home. My husband was more eager to help when I was respectful.

#3 I learned to LET GO AND LET GOD!! I realized some things were just not worth the emotional damage I was causing. I had to choose what really mattered. Towels on the floor weren't worth destroying my marriage. It takes less time to pick them up then it does to fight over them! As for the bigger issues, I realized that the change I was seeking was a heart change  and only God could do that. If my husband changed as a result of my nagging it wasn't a true heart change and we would eventually be right back where we were, so I choose to LET GO AND LET GOD deal with those issues; in the meantime I quietly prayed and bathed my husband and myself in prayer.

Which of these could you grab hold of today to change your life, marriage and legacy?


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