Words of Refreshment


Our words have the power of life and the power to break the spirit. Do you praise your spouse or criticize them?

A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. Proverbs 15:4

Ann's parents had an awful marriage. Her father was weak and her mother was too controlling. Ann felt it was her calling to keep her own marriage from suffering the same fate.

At first Ann's comments to her husband were helpful, but slowly they deteriorated into stinging criticisms. He became weak and withdrawn. Ann and her husband had a real commitment to their marriage, so they decided to seek help. Ann learned that her husband had endured criticism as a child and was dealing with it now as he had then: by withdrawing into his own world.

Today's Scripture verse reminds us of the power of the tongue. Our words have the power of life and the power to break the spirit. Ann's criticisms were breaking her husband's spirit and pushing him toward withdrawal.

Ann and her husband were feeling the same pain they had felt as they were growing up. They were locked into a cycle of hurting one another in one of the most painful ways possible: in ways they had been hurt before. As Ann criticized her husband, it was magnified by the pain of his father's criticism. As Ann's husband withdrew from her, it touched the pain of her dad's distance.

The power of the tongue to bring life was about to come into play. After participating in one of our couples' "intensive" retreats, Ann and her husband came to see one another's pain, and they offered one another caring words of comfort.

Ann found that it was helpful to start out by giving her husband one praise a day. Soon she began managing more than one. Her husband began responding with more openness, talking with her about his day and his struggles. She started listening more. Soon things started improving dramatically.

If you were to give your spouse one comment of praise today, what would it be?

Father, help me to delight in giving words of praise to my spouse.

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