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Faith and Values: Never, never, never

Guest columnist
Guest columnist

There are some things better left unsaid in marriage, or at least said differently than those first words out of our mouths. If you don’t believe me, search, ‘things never to say to your spouse.’ Using one search engine, I got over 79 million results and after reading each one (huge exaggeration for effect), I’ve selected a few of my favorites for this piece.

    You’re Overreacting This works as well as mixing flour with a very large fan. Since there’s probably not an agreed-upon standard that identifies their correct reaction level, you’ve started off by saying ‘you’re wrong’ and that rarely goes well. Instead, how about trying to find out what’s behind their reaction by listening with understanding. That tells them, “I Care”.

    We Can’t Afford It Slap in the face. If the item in question appeals to you and there’s a working budget, you can avoid this type of statement by saying, “I’d like that. Have you figured out what area of the budget it will come from?” Now the issue has become, ‘how do we pay for something we’d both like’ instead of ‘you haven’t even thought far enough ahead to see it costs too much.’

    My Mom/Dad Never… Thanks honey, that makes me feel like I’m in a competition I can’t win. A biblical principal, in the book of Genesis, has a married couple leaving their father and mother and forming a separate union, perhaps to avoid just this type of situation. The separation acknowledges and supports that this new union is unique and the parties must work together within that framework for the marriage to thrive. Does that mean you ignore everything good from your parent’s marriage? Nope! But you could mention the principle you saw at home without identifying mom or dad as the source.

    You Never… Your spouse likely won’t take to heart what you’re commenting on, especially if he’s a guy (this piece is written by one of them so he probably knows what he’s talking about…sometimes). Instead, they may log into their memory banks for the last time they did exactly what you said they never do and then they’ll have proof that you don’t ever get things right.

I could list more, but then you might think, “He’s overreacting to this whole issue and I can’t afford to spend any more time reading this article that’s unlike anything Mom & Dad would have ever said.” So instead, I’ll share a Common Denominator that’s likely to exist in each of these responses…a broken promise.

The vows made at most marriage ceremonies are deep, personal and full of actions to be done with the benefit of the other in mind. More importantly, they stand alone. Sure both parties make a promise, but neither pledge is contingent on the other. It isn’t, “I’ll love you until our time on this earth ends, as long as you always love me back”; it is without reservation.

Loving unconditionally means caring for another even if they don’t care for you in return. We recognize this when one of the parties can’t care for themselves any longer, let alone someone else, but we sometimes miss it when both are healthy and capable of tending to the other. We, too often, expect to get our fair due out of the relationship and turn cold toward the other when we don’t.

Recognizing that there are words we should never say to another does not solve the problem but that’s a topic for another article or perhaps a lengthy book series. I’ll just end by saying, you know you shouldn’t say that.

Scott McIntyre is a Christian blogger who has written about marriage, travel, downsizing, humor, and the motives behind people’s words and actions. In 2016 he moved from the Golden State to become a Washingtonian in a small town just west of Spokane County.


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