Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Encouraging Words

Sometimes good advice takes awhile to sink in. I can hear something valuable and nod my head in agreement, "Yes, yes, that's right." Good advice means nothing unless practiced. And that's where life found me when I heard the same good advice again:

Speak kindly about your children to their father and he will be encouraged. Speak harshly in frustration and their father will be frustrated with them.

I first read that nugget of wisdom about 5 years ago in a book on being a good wife (Created To Be His Help Meet, Pearl). Sure, it made sense. I usually unloaded my frustrations on my husband and he in turn would be irritated, especially at our challenging toddler (at the time we had one child who caused me lots of angst all day long). I thought the advice was good, but I didn't change my behavior.

For years, I've followed the same pattern. My kids were behaving terribly (now 3 of them causing me angst), I got frustrated and I called my husband to tell him all about it. Or he wasn't available and I fed my frustrations until he got home and then I really piled the heavy load of my day on to his capable shoulders. It kinda made me feel better to throw all that nasty irritation at him.

I called it "sharing." Shouldn't a father hear about every terrible thing his children did that day? I justified my frustrated venting by thinking I was enlightening him to his offspring's behavior. And I was. He was enlightened... and frustrated.

Nothing makes a man crankier than being confronted with a problem he can't fix.  Problem: irritated wife + naughty kids = cranky father. The result was unpleasant. What can a man do with this? He wants everyone happy and he walks into his home to find chaos.

My foul mood spread to the whole family. Mom is powerful like that. If Mama aint happy, aint nobody happy.

"It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop [on the flat oriental roof, exposed to all kinds of weather] 

than in a house shared with a nagging, quarrelsome, and faultfinding woman." 

(Proverbs 21:19)

That's what Scripture says, so maybe it was time to heed that good advice and my husband could come in off the roof:

Speak kindly about your children to their father and he will be encouraged. Speak harshly in frustration and their father will be frustrated with them.

The advice goes along with my resolve to be thankful from moment to moment. One sentence doesn't adequately describe how huge a change it has been. I was missing so many blessings because of a bad attitude. And in turn, I was spreading my toxic outlook to my husband.

As I see more joy, I can share it with my husband. Instead of calling my husband's cell phone in frustration, I now call to tell him about something funny one of his children did or a behavior that was really great. Instead of venting all the naughty things our children did today, I tell him about the good things. The highlights. He is proud of them and proud of me for delighting in his children.

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.

The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.

She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.

(Proverbs 31:10-12)

I changed my frustrated words to encouraging ones. The results have been amazing! This was actually a quick fix. My husband is encouraged! So many times over the last few weeks my husband and I have exchanged a smile over the heads of our children. Silently we are saying, "Aren't they amazing!!? How awesome that we get to be their parents." Because I am more positive, he is able to be blessed by his children.

I still share the challenges from my day. My husband is my partner. There is time to talk about parenting frustrations, but amazingly enough, my husband is much more receptive.

This is a little good advice that goes a long way. I hope you give it a try... sooner than I did.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, 

a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 

(Ephesians 5:1-2)



Carissa said...

Wow! I needed this today. With Ryan being gone for two weeks at a time I find that I am always telling him how hard my day was, all the bad things Landon did. I do say the good things but not enough. There should be more good than bad!


Jennifer said...

As always, your posts speak to the truth of parenting and marriage. Many times I have read them and felt like they were speaking to some of the exact issues I am facing. And once again, this came at such a great time and has been such a reminder. I unload on Neal a lot, especially when he has been gone for several days at a time. Such a great reminder to focus my energy in a more positive way. Thanks, as always!

Grace said...

Fabulous advice!!! It is so easy to feel comfortable in having someone to complain to, but we rarely see the damage we are doing. Thank you for this great reminder!

Sara said...

This couldn't have come at a more appropriate time ... my husband has been gone for almost six months on a deployment, and every day {almost} after my children have caused angst in my life, I just want him to be there and listen to me as I tell him how annoyed I was with them, with his being absent, with everything! Thanks for sharing such an inspirational and personal story so that others may learn a lesson, or two!!

Heather Davis said...

You are so exactly right alysun. Our words are so extremely powerful. Scripture says we have the power of life and death in our tongue. I am teaching aj that. And as my beloved pastor says we are able to frame our world with our words. Frame in the good and frame out the bad.