When I was a budding young lady, I remember a guest speaker coming to our church. He was an older gentleman and he sang the little song above as part of his sermon. The message was so simple and so profound that I never forgot the song.
When we are angry, frustrated, confused, or hurt, we often become tempted to get on the phone, jump on Facebook, or go see a friend. Why? So, we can tell our side of the story and cut the offending party to shreds. Though I remember the song, I have failed at following its principle more times than I can count.
When I was a teenager, I would tell the whole story about how someone upset me, and then finish it by saying, “I just needed to get that off my chest.” And you would have been amazed by how quickly that could jump back on my chest as soon as I found another friend who was willing to listen! When I was ticked off, I wanted everyone else to be ticked off right along with me. ~smile~
It was never okay for me to gossip and spread my wrath around to others. From the very beginning, I should have taken my problems straight to the Lord; and then, if the situation warranted it, to an objective adult who could have given me sage advice.
The Stakes Go Up!
As horrific as my boyfriend and friend issues seemed at the time, once I got married, the price for opening my big mouth rose immensely.
One detail separates my anger towards others from my anger towards Eric – I made a promise before God to love Eric and treat him with respect. I accepted him as my spiritual head. I gladly joined him and became one with him. Therefore, when I speak poorly about him to others, I am not only gossiping and tainting his reputation, but I am breaking my vow and harming our relationship (i.e., hurting myself).
We Harm Ourselves
There are multiple reasons to refrain from painting your sweetie in a negative light. In the first place, when you intend to make him or her look bad, you actually make yourself look bad. Have you ever been around someone who constantly berates his or her partner? Does it not put a bad taste in your mouth towards both of them?
Another reason to avoid spouting off behind your sweetie’s back is the permanent picture you paint in someone else’s mind. You and your future spouse will have a thousand fights in your lifetime (if you are blessed to have so few). When you tell your neighbor that your husband is a slob and ignores your repeated requests for him to pick up after himself, your neighbor will always have that image in his or her mind for a good while to come (if not forever). You and your sweetheart will make up, but your neighbor will always see a slob when your husband comes to his or her mind.
When I was engaged, a co-worker wisely warned me against running to my parents whenever I was upset with Eric. She said that while I would eventually forgive him (sooner or later), my parents would have a much harder time – and it is so true. Arguments are a dime a dozen in romantic relationships, and calling Mom and Dad during just one passing disagreement can make it truly difficult for them to forgive and accept your sweetheart. It is so easy to taint someone’s opinion.
The final reason I recommend refraining from “love” gossip is the residual effects it will have on your relationship. The first few times you whisper about your partner’s shortcomings, it probably won’t destroy your relationship; but, once you are in the habit of disparaging him or her, chances are your sweetie will get wind of it. Whether your brother-in-law cannot take it anymore and says, “Dude, your wife is constantly raggin’ on you!” or, the best friend overhears you complaining about your wife on the phone and cannot wait to run and tell her – one way or another, you can expect your careless tongue to catch up with you. And not only that – the more negatively you speak about each other, the more negatively you will feel about each other. Talk out and forgive the negative, and then accentuate the positive. Everyone will be happier if you do!
No matter how guilty I am, finding out that Eric was talking about me behind my back would feel like utter betrayal. We are married. We have a covenant. Why did he not come to me? Why did he choose to steal my good name from others who do not belong on the inside of our private relationship? (This is an example – not based on an actual event. ~smile~)
The same goes for me. When I step outside of our bond and blurt out my venom against my husband, it is a type of betrayal. We will work it out. I know we will. Trying to turn my family and friends against him in a moment of anger is completely self-seeking – tempting as can be, but self-seeking.
Recently, Eric and I had a rather unpleasant conversation. As soon as he left for work, I wanted to contact my mom and sister-in-law to let them know what happened. I wanted some advice. I wanted someone to say, “He shouldn’t have said that to you.” The phone was right there. They were just a text away. The temptation was great!
But, praise be to God, I overcame! The Holy Spirit reminded me to go before the Lord with my anger, and not to other people. I’m so thankful for the little song that precious evangelist taught me. Eric is not only my husband, but also my brother-in-Christ. And additionally, we are joined by God in this marital covenant.
So, I prayed. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I told God all that was in me about the situation, and I know God’s opinion of Eric will never change because of anything I say or do. ~smile~
Before you get married, make a pact with yourself that you will take those angry moments straight to your Heavenly Father. Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). So, use your mouth to complement your sweetheart in front of others, and take your concerns to the throne of God where you know they will be completely safe! Plus, God can change your sweetie’s heart. Your friends and family don’t have that power. ~smile~
If you and your sweetie agree on a person with whom you can discuss your marital concerns, this is fine – as long as your motivation is to gain insight and not to run your partner into the ground – and as long as that person can remain objective about the both of you.
Do you find yourself going to friends and family whenever your sweetheart offends you?
[Side Note – If you are in an abusive relationship, it is okay to seek help. The above has to do with those inevitable squabbles between significant others or spouses. You should not tolerate abuse and should seek help to get out of any relationship you perceive or know to be dangerous.]