Married life forces us to answer the big questions in life:
- What to watch on Netflix?
- Why does the toilet paper go over and not under?
- Which corner in the room is the best spot to put the new armchair?
- Should tomatoes really be considered fruit?
- How in the world can someone snore so loud?
- And is that dress really black with blue or white with gold?...
You know, those conversations in marriage that start out light-hearted but end disastrous. You don’t mean for it to happen that way, but it does. #pleasetellmeyoucanrelate
My sweet husband Chadd (Yes, 2 d’s!) and I recently debated whether bakeries make donut holes by using the dough from the center of a normal-sized round donut, or if they’re made in no particular way at all but just out of a big pile of dough formed into smaller donut holes. (Ugh. Newlyweds, am I right?) I wish our dispute was something that made us sound more sophisticated or educated, like ‘What came first, the chicken or the egg?’ It turned into a full-blown disagreement, and to both our dismay, no one was willing to back down. Careless words were exchanged and we both were hurt.
To give you background on this story, Chadd and I are big donut fans. There have been donuts at every stage of our relationship (he asked me to be his girlfriend with a personalized donut, he proposed with donuts, we had a donut food truck at our wedding, we won a year of free donuts through a contest, etc.) All that to say: it wasn’t out of the norm for us to be discussing how donut holes came into being.
Although the argument is humorous by nature, God often uses these times to humble me the most. When I’m determined to have the right answer, my tongue is my biggest enemy and it’s easy for careless words to come out. If I speak louder or reason better than my husband, then I feel like I’m in the driver’s seat, which is a dangerous path I’m learning to steer away from by the grace of God.
James knew a great deal about the power of the tongue. In James 3:3-4, he warns us about the influence our tongue can have:
“We put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us. With these bits we can control their whole body. It is the same with ships. A ship is very big, and it is pushed by strong winds. But a very small rudder controls that big ship. And the one who controls the rudder decides where the ship will go. It goes where he wants it to go. It is the same with our tongue. It is a small part of the body, but it can boast about doing great things.”
Essentially James provides an analogy about how small things can control and turn large objects. Our tongue is a small part of our entire body that has a powerful influence over who we are and what we do.
As long as we’re counting who’s winning: Bible: 1. Me: 0.
The small fights may not be so small after all. Tiny jabs or sarcastic remarks can wound. My husband is at his best when I use my words to better understand him, encourage him, and to love him well. These quick reminders from God’s Word can help slow down your words in the heat of an argument:
- A gentle answer turns away anger (Proverbs 15:1)
- Your pride will result in destruction (Proverbs 16:18)
- Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry (James 1:19)
It’s never worth it to win an argument but to lose our marriage. I’m so grateful for a husband who lovingly forgives me when I mess up and speak harshly to him. Even more so, I’m grateful that God uses these moments to sanctify my marriage and to rid my heart of pride. The more I’m in tune with God, the more I can recognize the nudge from the Holy Spirit offering help when my husband and I are at odds with one another.
My prayer is that Chadd and I will honor God by using those arguments as opportunities to navigate our words carefully and wisely. After all, a couple that shares the same love of donuts (and Jesus) together, stays together.
(Oh, and to save you a Google search: donut holes are in fact actually made both ways. And they taste great no matter what, so no complanin’ here!)
The next time an argument comes up that seems silly, don’t leave it unresolved or let it peak into a full-blown disagreement. Instead, try to use it as a catalyst to remind yourself of the verses above. The Holy Spirit is our guide, teacher and helper. Take a second to ask the Holy Spirit to help tame your tongue so you can 1. Answer gently 2. Rid yourself of pride and 3. Be slow to become angry.