Choose Wisely, Words Matter

By Janine Petry

Beautifully wrapped boxes adorned the gift tables; ribbons and bows overflowed. After our wedding, my husband and I opened each package to find vases, frames, towels, appliances—everything a newlywed couple could want!

And while each gift has found a place in our home, none of them is what makes our home truly beautiful or our difficult tasks easier. That’s because the best gifts didn’t come wrapped in paper that day, but wrapped in words.

My husband and I exchanged our gifts at the altar. I committed my life to his through a marriage covenant—a promise to love until death. And my husband did the same. With the words of our mouths, our union was spoken into reality.

More than a decade later, the exchange continues. Just as on that first day, I’m learning that the most valuable gifts I bring to our marriage are still the words I speak.

And here’s why: in marriage and other relationships, my words are powerful—and so are yours. Words speak life or death, so whether I’m using my mouth for good or for ill, I can be sure that I’m going to partake of what I’m voicing.

This means I get to choose what I want for my marriage—and I choose life. With this choice comes the responsibility to select my words carefully, so I search for those that will carry beauty into our home and our hearts.

Here’s what it looks like for me. I use affirming words to describe my husband’s character—both to him and to others—and I enjoy watching him grow stronger. I use respectful words towards his views and I enjoy the peace of unity. I encourage him daily, and I delight in the foundation upon which we’re building our marriage.

But I’ll readily admit, I don’t always choose life. Using careless words, I’ve verbalised my natural inclination towards bitterness, criticism and pride. I’ve attached my husband and ushered in mistrust; I’ve criticised him and threatened peace; I’ve preferred selfish chatter to the truth and watched our indifference weaken our marital foundation.

No, I haven’t always chosen wisely, so I’m thankful that each word spoken carries new opportunity. These precious gifts of communication now adorn our home and speak our union into a more visible reality—one we’ll enjoy for the rest of our lives together.

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2010 issue of Thriving Family magazine. Copyright © Focus on the Family.

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