Every good marriage is the product of many good words. Every bad marriage is the result of bad words—or no words at all. You have to speak a lot of positive, praising words to create a healthy marriage.
Consider how you fell in love in the first place. You talked. You took great care with your choice of words. You spoke encouraging words to each other in order to develop the relationship.
But once many couples have secured their relationship, that carefulness with words falls away. They get into bad habits. They stop communicating at all, or they only communicate with criticism, nagging, or demeaning words. Here are a few root causes of this:
Learned behavior. Many of our personal habits develop in childhood. Children imitate their parents. That’s the first marriage they see, which means their future marriage is likely to reflect what they learned from Mom and Dad.
They could learn to speak to a spouse with kindness, love, and romance.
Or they could learn hatefulness, meanness, sarcasm, or silence.
If you have children, look at your own marriage: What kind of role model are you for your kids? What are they learning from the way you communicate with each other?
Also think about your parents, and what you learned from them: Are you repeating any of their bad habits? Are you mimicking the dysfunctional communication you observed as a child?
Insecurity. Dysfunctional communication also comes from insecurity. Every person I know has some form of insecurity. Karen and I were both insecure when we married. My internal insecurity kept me from being verbally affectionate toward her.
As an example of how insecurity can influence your words, consider a friend of mine. If I wanted my wife to pass me the ketchup, I would say, “Karen, would you pass the ketchup?” But my friend would say, “You stunning beauty, most gorgeous person on the planet, love of my life, would you please pass me the ketchup?”
He’s far more secure than I am. My insecurity would make me embarrassed to talk that way, but it didn’t bother him at all. And his wife adored it.
Our security should come from God, whose faithfulness is everlasting. When you put your security in Him, you worry less about what others think. You don’t worry about how your words sound. A relationship with Him changes everything.
Ignorance. My lack of knowledge about a woman’s needs caused me to say any number of insensitive things to Karen. I didn’t understand her need to feel secure in our relationship—and how that security came from deep, honest communication.
Likewise, I’ve counseled women who didn’t understand their husbands’ need for sex, and damaged their marriage by withholding it.
In a healthy marriage, everyone wins. Both the husband and wife understand each other’s needs and meet those needs. But when you’re ignorant of the opposite sex and you’re ignorant about how God made marriage, this will cause you to say and do things that are very harmful.
God created the world by speaking it into existence, and we also use words to create our world—our marriages, our families, our homes. What kind of world are you creating?