In every healthy marriage, you’ll find that there are times when you need to bite your tongue. (The same is true for your spouse!) Maybe you and your spouse don’t agree on a topic you both hold close to your hearts. Perhaps you’re working through a difficult time and you’re both feeling stressed.
Maybe you’re angry, and you need to cool down before you open your mouth. Or perhaps you hold a strong opinion or expectation that your spouse doesn’t share. Whatever the case, there will come a time when you have to choose between speaking up, or keeping silent while things play out.
It can take a tremendous amount of discipline to remain silent when all you want to do is spew your feelings. But sometimes, keeping quiet for just a little while can make the difference between a major conflict, and a slight bump in the road.
How can biting your tongue benefit your marriage?
1. You become a better listener
When you commit to practicing silence in your marriage, it gives you the chance to digest the things that your spouse is saying–especially during a conflict. Too often, we’re more concerned with what we’re going to say next rather than hearing our spouse out. This causes us not only to speak before we listen; it also causes us to speak before we think.
So many conflicts and fights are avoidable, except that, in the heat of the moment, spouses tend not to listen to one another. Practicing the art of biting your tongue gives you the chance to fully appreciate your spouse’s point of view. It also allows you to carefully form your opinions and stances based on a more complete knowledge of your spouse’s.
The skill of listening well will help you in more areas than just conflict resolution. It will help you retain the information that your spouse tells you–even everyday details like appointments, errands, and tasks that need to get done at home. This will lessens frustration and increases satisfaction across the board in your marriage.
2. You cultivate empathy
Listening well and understanding your spouse’s point of view cultivates a deep sense of empathy in you. We can overcome deep divides in our marriages through empathy. Even when two spouses disagree with one another completely and find themselves at an impasse, empathy allows them to see and understand each other’s point of view.
When you walk a mile in your spouse’s shoes, you’re less likely to be critical and demanding. You’re more likely to embrace your spouse’s differences because you understand your spouse on a deeper level. You’re more likely to be forgiving and to extend grace and patience to him or her. And deep understanding can become reciprocal over time. When your spouse accepts grace from you, they’re more likely to offer it in return.
3. You practice patience
Good listening begets patience. In fact, patience is a direct byproduct of being a better listener. And as you cultivate more patience with your spouse, you’ll find that it extends into every area of your life.
Patience is a crucial ingredient for a happy marriage and lifelong love. There is no end to its benefits, and it pays dividends when practiced generously. We all have shortcomings. And when we’re married to someone, their shortcomings are more obvious to us as time goes by. We can either choose to point these issues out to our spouse, nagging them and pushing them to make changes. Or we can choose to wait with patience while our spouse works through their issue. In some cases (though not all), waiting patiently is the best approach to exacting positive change.
Having abundance and generous patience with your spouse can mean the difference between regular, avoidable conflict and measurable, positive change. Patience will cultivate a sense of peace in your home, as well as preventing resentment and hostility from taking root.
4. You create peace and diffuse hostility
There are times when being a peacemaker requires speaking up. In fact, sometimes, silence is not golden. But most of the time, biting your tongue creates peace.
Speaking to our spouse in anger generates resentment and hostility. When we bite our tongues, we keep ourselves from saying things that feed these hard feelings. A home full of nagging, arguing, and fighting is a stressful, unhappy place to live. But a marriage where the husband and wife speak kindly to one another and remain silent when they’re tempted to lash out is the home of lifelong love.
In the coming week, how will you practice mindful silence in your marriage? Is there a time when biting your tongue has served your marriage well? Leave us a comment below and tell us about it.