One of the most meaningful compliments I can receive is someone sharing that they look up to my marriage. Mostly because (as easy as Jordan makes loving him 😉 ) it’s probably the thing I’ve worked the hardest at. We’ve been working towards loving each other well for 10 years now! There are a lot of things we do better these days than we did as teenagers, but we still have a lot of things to get better at. Here’s the thing we’ve done since the beginning that I think has made our relationship one that others respect. We honor each other with our words – We. Speak. Life. I said this to someone once and they did not get it at all. Actually I think they said something like, “you speak life? Who do you think you are? Jesus?” That was a good conversation. 🙂 Here’s what I mean: We believe that our words carry the power of life and death because God says it to be true and we’ve chosen life for our marriage.
Every day we make the choice to speak words that encourage, empower, and build one another up. We’ve made a commitment to each other that we will not speak poorly to or about one another in front of other people. We talk about each other in uplifting ways, we do not fight in front of others, and if we have nothing nice to say, we stick to the “say nothing at all” rule! It sounds like a good goal, but it’s harder said than done when challenges arise. The best way to make this hope a reality is to put a plan in place before the tough times. The pressure is off to determine your words in the moment because you’ve already made a commitment to each other of how you’ll handle it. Here’s the 3 non-negotiable that help us honor this commitment →
Have you ever had a couple argue or take jabs at each other in front of you? It is so awkward. We decided early on in our relationship that how we represent each other is important to us and I think that it has been a big factor in the confidence we have in our relationship. I’m not saying we never speak a mean word towards each other. I wish I was, but we have our fair share of moments that we have to apologize for. Almost always though, this happens without an audience.
#1 – If something hurts our feelings in public, we wait to address it in private. What about when you have a fight in the car on your way to church or a friends house? That is the worst! But we suck it up and put it on pause until we are alone together later on. It’s not faking it. It’s perspective. We know that at the root of it all, we love each other and we’re FOR each other and because of that, we can treat each other kindly, even when we’re hurting or angry. Quick tip though: Come back to it. Don’t let this create a cycle of unresolved feelings. Usually, for Jordan and I, we get back in the car at the end of whatever it was and we’ve cooled down. We’ve had time to see where the other person was coming from and honestly, those moments can be some of our quickest resolutions.
#2 – We don’t speak negatively about the other person behind their back.
This one seems obvious, but it’s so common. Pretty much every chick flick has a moment when all the women are talking about how useless their husbands are or the men are complaining about their nagging wives. I hate that! Even in the early dating years we knew we didn’t want to be known for that. We don’t speak about the other person to anyone in a way that’s anything less than uplifting. Even (maybe even especially) to our families! It is so tempting if you have a close relationship with your family, especially in the earlier stages of a marriage, to vent about a fight you had or to complain about the other. Our families tend to be a safe place to turn to, but this can be dangerous for two reasons. 1) It continues a sort of “alliance” to them over our spouse, and 2) it represents your spouse poorly, creating division between the two. I believe that when you say “I do” you choose a new family. Not that you have to give up the family you grew up with, but they do become a lower priority after your marriage and the new family you’ve created. This is Biblical! And I’ve seen it be a huge source of conflict in relationships when the priorities don’t shift. It’s hard! But I think it’s something that’s really important to a healthy marriage.
Don’t confuse this one with thinking that you can’t ever be real with anyone. It’s crucial to have wise, godly people that we can bring our challenges and heartache to, knowing they’re a safe place. Marriage is hard and even harder if we try to go it alone. I have a really small circle of people that I speak about the raw challenges of marriage with, but those conversations are built on an understanding of my intentions and for the purpose of praying together, challenging, and encouraging one another. Your circle might include someone in your family and thats okay. It’s all how you go about it. You can be honest and respectful at the same time. Be purposeful.
The last thing I’ll say about this is that it creates a ton of confidence in one another and in ourselves. I never worry that Jordan’s friends know things about me that I wouldn’t want them to know or think negatively about me because Jordan complains to them about me in private. In fact, I’m confident that his friends think I’m kind of great and that’s because Jordan represents me so intentionally. My friends think Jordan is a fantastic husband and dad because he is and I have no business representing him as anything less. I love bragging about Jordan. Not to make other women feel discouraged or “I wish I had that,” but to encourage other women “that’s the kind of love I deserve and will hold out for/work towards!” Which leads my to my third and favorite way we honor each other with our words…
#3 – We make it a point to speak positively about each other in front of other people!
I always joke that Jordan is like the hype man everyone needs. If you need someone to jump on your idea, get excited about how great it is, and energetically go after whatever needs to be done to make it happen – Jordan is your man! I love that quality in him and it rubs off on me. As the woman in a mans life, you have an opportunity to encourage and empower him like NO ONE ELSE! I’ve talked before about how the most powerful way to do this is through prayer (read that here!), but I think the second most powerful way to do that is to intentionally speak positively about him in public. Don’t just not say anything negative, say something positive! Share his wins, compliment him, cheer him on around others. I’m always surprised by how effective this specifically is in setting a relationship apart. It doesn’t just make him feel like a million bucks, it says to people, “wow, they really love and like each other. I want that.” And THAT is what points them to Jesus. Because he’s just a guy and I’m just a girl and we both have plenty of quirks to complain about. But we highlight and celebrate each other’s gifts and strengths. We build up instead of tear down. We speak life into each other.
Jordan and I didn’t come up with this idea. It’s Proverbs 18:21 says that “The tongue has the power of life and death.” It’s full of truth about the powerful impact of our words, not to mention that life was literally created with words. And this principal isn’t just for marriages. It’s for every person and every relationship. Once someone said to me, “Lauren, have you ever thought of starting a blog? I think people would read it – I would.” I HAD thought about it for years, but that word of encouragement empowered me in a way I’d be waiting for. Your words have the power to change someone’s whole day, to change their outlook on life and themselves, to change the trajectory of their life! So be generous with your words – they don’t run out! Speak with intention and be a life giver – you never know when God’s going to use use to say exactly what someone needs to hear.