“Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door” (James 5:9).
You just had to vent a little. At least that’s what you told yourself. And even if venting is simply a more acceptable name for grumbling, how bad could a bit of grumbling be? Afterall, we’re all prone to do it from time to time.
Yet research indicates that too much “muttering in discontent, expressing dissatisfaction especially in a low harsh voice and surly manner,” as grumbling is defined in the dictionary, can cause problems in a marriage. Dr. John Gottman’s studies show that successful couples have a high positive-to-negative ratio of interactions in everyday life: 20 positive interactions for every negative interaction.
And of course, God already knew that. James 5:9 says, “Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.” If you’re grumbling about your husband or wife, you need to keep in mind that your spouse can also find something you’ve done or not done to grumble about.
So if you’re tempted to grumble, memorize the following verses to help you stay on track.
- “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29, NIV).
- “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6).
- “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (Proverbs 10:19).
- “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4).
Lord, I don’t want to be a grumbling spouse who spews out negativity and creates discontentment in my home. I want to have a gentle tongue and avoid the destructive, prideful behavior of grumbling. Show me how to build up my spouse, and help me recognize and work on my own faults instead of magnifying theirs.
Today’s marriage devotional question
When’s the last time you grumbled against your spouse? What was the outcome?