Strengthening Your Marriage with Grace-Filled Words

A couple talks to each other, holding hands, stengthening their marriage with grace-filled words.

When I said the words, they felt fake—probably because they were. Forced might be more accurate. But I said them anyway, through gritted teeth and a tight smile: “Thank you so much, honey, for grabbing the groceries. It’s no big deal you forgot a few.”

Except it felt like a big deal. Fortunately, by this point in my marriage, I knew my feelings could be faulty. That truth has saved me countless times from saying things I felt in the moment but I knew were untrue.

In this particular instance, six sets of little eyes and ears were intently attuned to how I’d respond to my husband, Tim, who had mistakenly (and innocently) forgotten items I needed to cook dinner.

My frustration could have led to an argument, with my feelings spewing out through my words. But my children’s presence was a subtle reminder to bite my tongue.

Arguments with my husband feel earth-shattering at the time, but in a couple of weeks, I barely remember why we started arguing in the first place. What do I remember? The way I reacted and the words I said. Those always seem to linger a bit longer.

I also know that my children easily misconstrue what is said during marital disagreements. It’s like a giant game of telephone that doesn’t end well.

Do you feel that you could use a little more grace-filled speech in your marriage and a whole lot less speech peppered with unkind or hurtful words? Here are some lessons I’m learning along the way about guarding my tongue and strengthening my marriage with grace-filled words to build up my spouse.

Speak in Grace-Filled Way to Please God

Words are my sweet spot, and I’m especially good with them. But sometimes I’m too good with them. I know how to use them to get my way with my spouse and make myself feel better, at least temporarily.

Too often, accusations like “You don’t care!” and “You’re so selfish” have escaped my lips. Neither of those sentiments has ever been true about Tim. Far from it. Yet somehow I still use them as weapons.

What I really want to say is, “I love you deeply, and though I disagree with you in this moment, I hear your heart, and I want to walk in peace with you.”

I’ve learned the hard way that letting my words get the better of me isn’t just a bummer; it’s sin that takes root deep in my heart. The side effects of sin can be word vomit, whether intentionally or out of habit.

The first step in uprooting sin is asking forgiveness and being honest about it with ourselves and God. Asking Him to help us speak in ways that please Him and encourage others is a prayer He loves to answer.

Reckless Words vs. Marriage-Strengthening, Grace-Filled Words

I’ve learned that the alternative to hurling reckless words at my spouse is to speak grace-filled words. I continually ask the Lord to help me speak words that honor Him and those around me—especially my husband and children.

Maybe you have a desire to speak affirming words to your spouse but fear they won’t be well received. During heated moments, they probably won’t be, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be said. I’ve found that the best time to speak grace-filled words is when I’m receptive to what Tim has to say. In those moments, we’re both positioned to communicate forgiveness and understanding.

Proverbs 18:21 has become a life verse for me: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” I’ve seen the fruit of grace-filled words in my marriage, as well as their impact in my children’s lives. That motivates me to keep cultivating that kind of fruit.

Grace-Filled Words to Build By

Using grace-filled words with our spouses takes practice. For example, if you aren’t sure what to say, or you think you might say something hurtful, you could offer a rehearsed response instead, such as “I’m frustrated right now, but I don’t want to say something I will regret. Could we take a break and revisit this once I feel calmer?” or “I can tell we’re both ramping up, and this conversation isn’t moving in a great direction. How about we stop now, pray and start over in a bit?”

Sometimes I repeat these responses in my head or in front of a mirror to see how my face looks and keep my tone and body language in check. Most importantly—and without the mirror—I try to line up what I want to say against the truth of God’s Word.Words can tear our spouses down, or they can communicate love, kindness and forgiveness. Ephesians 4:31-32 calls us to “let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” As His dearly loved people, God calls us to reflect the image of His Son in the words we speak to those we love.

It’s amazing how the simple act of using grace-filled words with our spouses can transform not just us but our relationships as well. When grace is in the game, both you and your spouse get to play offense instead of defense!

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