What does a rudder have to do with marriage? Plenty. James wrote: Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. (James 3:4-5) He also wrote that we use our tongue to praise, as well as curse (3:10), and that we can’t tame it (3:8). (Click on the title to read more.)
In marriage, our tongue (“rudder”) steers the course of the marriage “ship.” Words can either build up or tear down. While we may not be able to “tame” the tongue, we can control what we say and how we say it (tone). When we choose to respond gently with love and kindness instead of harshly or with sarcasm, bitterness, or contempt, we honor and respect out spouse. We will experience more peace in our relationship, and we will feel more fulfilled.
When anger rises, the logical part of our brain shuts down and we think, say and do things that we wouldn’t if we weren’t angry. I’ve heard that it takes 20 minutes for our brain to return to normal after being angry. It is unproductive to have a conversation during that time. So, as a rule, if anger rises, step away from the situation, letting your spouse know that you need some time to cool off so that you don’t say something that you’ll regret later. It helps if both of you have agreed in advance to give each other permission to take that step, and allow the space when the time comes.
Your mission for this week, should you decide to accept it, is to pay attention to how your spouse responds to your words and tone, both positive and negative. If negative, by all means ask for forgiveness to keep it from becoming an undercurrent. In addition, note (and maybe even discuss) how you can speak more positively in future similar circumstances. The goal is to have more positive interactions and fewer negative ones.
Note: Scriptures are New International Version (NIV), unless otherwise noted.