On love and respect…and tone of voice

The other day, as I was shopping in the store, I heard a woman’s voice say, “You bring too much junk food into the house.  You have to stop it”.  Or something like that.  But her TONE of voice said “You stupid idiot, what is wrong with you?! ”  I turned to see who she was speaking to and found an older couple.  The woman was speaking in this condescending, holier-than-thou, tone to her husband, who was shuffling behind her with his head down.  What is wrong with this picture?  This is one of many times I have seen a person treat someone who should be…at one time probably was…the love of their life with condescension and unkindness.

Have you ever seen spouses treat each other like this?  Have you ever treated your spouse like this?  I know I have.  I recognized the tone of voice the woman was using, because, sadly, I have used it on occasion.   But if we get in the habit of treating our spouse this way, we are essentially adding bricks to a wall that will grow taller and stronger with each incident.  And, if we are not careful, it will end up casting a dark shadow over the relationship, eventually drowning out the light.  We need to constantly be on guard against treating our spouses in this way.

And this goes for your private moments, too–just because you are a model wife or husband in public does not mean you are treating them with love and respect at home.  Many is the couple who look so happy on the outside, but their true relationship is quite the opposite.   And, oftentimes, the breakdown in these relationships started when we stopped treating one another with respect and kindness.

The other day, I came across a couple I had never met.  The woman had to leave for a moment and the husband proceeded to spout off several unkind remarks about his wife, then rolled his eyes when he told me they had been married 50 years.  I got the impression that he felt like the last 50 years had been a mild form of torture.  The only thing that made him light up was when I asked about his grandkids.  When the woman returned, she gave me the impression that she was unpleasant and bossy.  From the outside, it looks as if this couple has lost all respect and love for one another.  It was heart-breaking.  I wonder if all of those years of treating one another with disrespect and unkindness had changed a couple who had pledged to love one another for eternity to two people that couldn’t stand one another?

If this is something you struggle with (and, if we are honest, many of us do, at least on occasion), why not sit down and have a heart to heart with your spouse and ask them if they feel like they are loved and respected?  And, if not, why not?  Find out if your words have degraded them…discouraged them…disheartened them.  And if they work up the courage to be completely honest with you, do not make excuses.   Do not grow defensive.   Listen carefully.  Apologize.

Treat your spouse with love and respect.  Honor them.  Be grateful for the way God made them.  Remember why you fell in love.  And, in the process, let’s be a shining example of marriage as God created it.  Let’s show the world that it is possible to be in love for a lifetime!

Ephesians 5:22-33

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