Communication: No Kidding
Open and honest communication is critically important to building any healthy relationship — especially the relationship between husband and wife. I wrote previously about our effort to promote healthy communication in our marriage with the understanding that we would not hint about things that were important to us. Instead of hinting, we simply tell each other and avoid disappointment and hurt feelings. You can read about that in here: Communication: No Hinting I also wrote about the importance of open and honest communication here: Open and Honest Communication.
Love to laugh
Franicia and I work really hard at cultivating open and honest communication in our marriage. We both love to laugh! After all, God's Word says of laughter,
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. - Proverbs 17:22
I grew up kidding a lot with my family -- especially my brothers. Franicia also grew up kidding with her brothers and many cousins in Saipan. Whenever my brothers and I kidded each other, we did it in a light-hearted way and never intended to hurt each other's feelings.
When Franicia and I were courting and then when we were newlyweds, we would kid around with each other from time to time. Personally, I figured that I was showing my love to Franicia when I would kid around like I showed my love to my brothers growing up. Something interesting would happen when we would joke with one another, though -- often, one of us would get our feelings hurt.
I love Franicia so much. She's my best friend, she's my sweetheart, and she's the most amazing person I've ever met. I'm honored to have her as my wife. I love her imperfectly, but I want to love her as perfectly as possible and make her feel treasured. I always want her to feel cherished and precious!
As I contemplated that my kidding with Franicia was making her laugh sometimes but hurting her feelings at other times, I started to wonder if kidding with her was a healthy way to relate with her as her husband. I also asked myself, "If I saw someone else teasing Franicia, how would I feel?" Well, I would be pretty defensive of my precious wife if someone started teasing her.
Loving as God commands
I also started to think differently about my love for Franicia. My love for her was very different than the love that I have for my brothers (as it certainly should be)! As God says, when man and woman join in marriage, they become one flesh. God even commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it! The phrase, "gave Himself for it" is deep and full of meaning! Christ, the second person of the Trinity, became a man born of a woman, dwelled with his creation, served those around him in the most loving way, was rejected of men, willingly endured the wrath of God, He "became sin who knew no sin," and was crucified in a violent, brutal execution.
As I contemplated my love for Franicia and Christ's love for the church, I also started to wonder if teasing and kidding was a healthy, wholesome way to relate. Was I honoring her when I teased her? Was I giving myself for her when I teased her? Was I showing her that she was cherished when I teased her? The answer to all of those questions is a resounding "NO!"
Throughout our lives, we've noticed how some couples will praise their spouses in public (earning lots of points, by the way) while others scorn and mock their spouses in public -- sometimes even in the presence of their spouse. These couples, if asked, would absolutely affirm that they love each other. Their actions, however, communicate otherwise.
Love God. Love your neighbor.
Jesus summed up the law that we are to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strengh; and we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Mocking the spouse that God, Himself has joined us to and blessed us with is not loving God nor is it loving our spouse (our most important neighbor) as our self. Further, doing that is not loving to the people we're talking to because it's not encouraging or edifying them.
The woman spoken of in Proverbs 31 contributes toward her husband being known and being prominent in his community.
Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land." - Proverbs 31:23
Also, this woman in Proverbs 31 is kind and wise.
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. - Proverbs 31:26
A Change of heart
I was greaved by my actions and quickly asked Franicia to forgive me. I praise God that all of this happened within the first couple weeks of our marriage. Right then, we told each other that we, by the grace of God, would no longer tease each other but would strive to encourage and edify one another in word and deed.
Franicia and I have tried to resist the temptation to tease our children as we've found that teasing them has never improved our relationship but has rather alienated them and hurt their feelings. We also discourage our children from teasing one another, and, if we had the opportunity to live our childhood over, we would not tease our loved ones.
Shower with love
Let me encourage you to be lavish with your approbation and very careful when you are temped to tease or criticize. As you seek to live a healthy, wholesome life and seek to cultivate open and honest communication in your relationships, shower those around you with love -- the kind of love that God has: righteous, holy love. This goes for all of your relationships, but it's particularly important as you relate to your spouse or spouse-to-be. May we all open our "mouth with wisdom" and rule our speech with "the law of kindness." I can wholeheartedly confirm that you will never regret the choice to act in love.
Thank you, Sweetie, for always being careful to speak to me with love and wisdom. I love you!
Do you kid and tease your spouse or significant other? Have you found that to build your relationship or tear it down? How do you ensure that you open your "mouth with wisdom" and rule your speech with "the law of kindness?" Please share your thoughts!