Listen to the broadcast Never Stop Looking Up in Your Marriage with Dave and Ann Wilson.
“Marrying you was the biggest mistake of my life!”
“I told God that I’d rather be dead than stay married to you!”
“I’m absolutely certain that I married the wrong person.”
“Come back here and fight me like a man, you chicken!”
“To be completely honest, I’ve lost my feelings for you.”
I know the couple who said those words really well because my wife, Ann, and I were the ones saying them. Most of them were said in the first year of our marriage. We struggled through some dark days, and our words were extremely hurtful.
Words have the power to start wars, scar hearts, lacerate a person’s soul, create enemies and incite fear. Our words can actually damage a person’s God-given identity for life. And if we aren’t careful with our language, we can destroy our marriage. Speaking words of death and condemnation is so easy, but couples who choose encouraging, uplifting words enjoy the fruit of happiness.
Choosing to use positive words
For a time after Ann and I launched Kensington Community Church years ago, each worship folder had a card for prayer requests inside. Some people used the cards to air their complaints about the church instead of sharing their needs.
In one particular season, I received lots of criticism about my preaching. I began to lose confidence. One late evening as Ann and I crawled into bed, I shared my hurt about these critiques and how I wasn’t sure if I should preach anymore.
Ann turned toward me and said, “I can’t imagine the weight that you carry every time you get up to preach. You have lots of people who depend on your walk with God to lead them. You do an amazing job carrying that burden.”
As she said those words, I felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I immediately pulled Ann close and let her know that her words had revived my soul.
She later told me that her first thought was to say, “Well, if you would spend more time in God’s Word, then your sermons would be better!” How do you think that conversation would have ended? Instead she chose to respond with words of life, and those words had the power to transform my soul. In fact, I did end up spending more time in the Word without Ann saying anything about it. Positive words motivate in ways we may never know.
The far-reaching effects of encouraging language
Days before our youngest son left for college on a football scholarship, Ann said to me, “You’re a really good writer.”
I replied, “No, I’m not.”
“Seriously, you have a way with the written word. Every time you write, it’s powerful and life changing,” she said. Seeing that I still wasn’t convinced, Ann said, “If you would write Cody an email and encourage him as he heads to college, I bet he would never forget it.”
I just smirked and forgot about it. But later that evening I remembered Ann’s words and wrote Cody an email about the amazing character he had developed as a leader and hard worker with a ne’er-say-die attitude. I told of my days playing college football and how I wanted to quit but was glad I persevered.
I shot that email off to Cody and didn’t get a response until he was just about to graduate almost four years later. I receive an email from him with my original email pasted into it. He said he had read my email almost every day the previous four years, and it had helped him through some of the hardest days and months of college. He wanted to thank me for my words of life.
If Ann had scolded me or tried to coerce me to send that email, I would never have done it. Yet because her words were positive, I was motivated. And the result was life changing for Cody and me.
Now it’s your turn. Speak words of life to your spouse right now. It will bring a smile to his or her face and deep joy to his or her heart.
Dave and Ann Wilson are the co –founders of Kensington Community Church and the authors of Vertical Marriage: The one secret that will change your marriage.