Monday, April 5, 2010

Marriage Mondays ~ Tone deaf?

Welcome to Marriage Mondays ... the day after Easter! Does the Resurrection have anything to do with my marriage? While waiting for the ham to glaze and the hot cross buns to rise yesterday, I read the final pages of "The Case for Easter." Lee Strobel drew some powerful conclusions in researching the death, burial, and resurrection of God's Son: "If Jesus overcame the grave, he's still alive and available for me to personally encounter... If he has divine power, he has the supernatural ability to guide and transform me as I follow him." (p.88)

Since Jesus is alive, those of us who have given our lives to Him can seek and expect His transformation of our lives and character. That's great news! Of many things I am not sure, but of the fact that my flesh needs transformation ... of that I am sure. Me have a successful marriage marked by peace if I try to do it apart from Christ's power? Not likely. Things like my attitudes, my pride, my habits, my history, and my weaknesses will get in the way.

One of the most pronounced and obvious signs a marriage needs heart change is heard in our TONE. In the early years of our marriage, we learned some hard lessons about communication. We had been brought up so differently and were given to vastly different pitfalls. Imagine an innocent Easter bunny discovered by a stealth rottweiler - one trying not to move the wrong way to get eaten and hoping the dog would just go away, and the beast making sure it didn't lose the advantage or its dinner. Which one was I? I write to you as a mostly reformed rottweiler, thankful for God's help to transform my communication and to keep on working on me and my fleshly habits that creep back in from time to time.

Jeff and I worked hard at learning how to talk to each other Jesus' way, and we are still transforming. Sometimes we are still "TONE deaf," failing to catch the subtle tones in our voices that communicate demeaning or selfish messages. I would love to hide a tape recorder in the car on our next family outing, so the 4 of us could get a reality check on what we "sound" like to one another. We all need to keep seeking God's help in this. TONE relays so much more about our attitude and intentions than words alone. Consider this simple example:

  • What did you do with my car keys, Honey? (Said with even rhythm and timing.)
  • What did you do with my car keys, Honey? (Emphasize the "what," take a pause before the "Honey," and stick your chin our when you say it, squinting just a little ... go ahead and act it out ;) You'll see what I mean. You'll HEAR what I mean.)

Did you do it? You have to stick out your chin and squint when you do it ... come on. ;) Or maybe you have your own "negative tone pose." Our TONE conveys the intent of our heart. Here are a few practical questions to ask ourselves to help guide our conversation:

  • Am I slowing down the RATE of my conversation when I am emotional? (I had a tendency to get faster = attacking.)
  • Am I using a lower VOLUME when I feel emotional? (I had a tendency to get louder = demeaning.)
  • Am I using my tone to bless and RESPECT? (I had a tendency to use my tone sarcastically, while using technically "good" words = disrespectful.)

While Jesus was on the cross, He did not revile or curse or become cynical. Instead, He was full of kindness, forgiveness, and humility. Not even if we're late for church again or finding hidden laundry or pouring "air" out of the empty pitcher in the fridge or forgiving each other for sins, again. Not using a hurtful tone to get our point across, but trusting God to act for us and in us.

1 Peter 2:23,24

... while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

Imagine if we took "that Jesus" into our marriages what they would look like. What a relief that "by His wounds" I am being healed of my fleshly TONE and words. I want my marriage to have more of His TONE and less of mine. A dead Jesus would make no difference in my marriage relationship or in any relationship, for that matter, but the LIVE Jesus we celebrated yesterday ... His life means my marriage is a totally different animal ... and praise God it's not the rottweiler. ;)

What communication trap do you find yourself falling into? Click to comment below my signature. Next week I'll be doing a giveaway for Marriage Mondays, and I know it will be an encouragement for a marriage out there. Blessings!

If you write a post to link today with Marriage Mondays: 1) click the MckLinky below 2) link back to this post 3) mention MM with a link in your post and 4) leave a comment. Thanks for adding to the encouragement!

6 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Melanie said...

Oh, the tone! How challenging! Last night I was short and grumpy - as all three males in my family pointed out. You know what triggered me - something silly - tired of basketball being on TV 24/7. Sometimes this boy world gets to me... but really I realized that I haven't had a good quiet time in a while, so that's what I really need. Refreshing time with the Lord.

And I was thinking about you this weeekend... wondering if She Speaks is in your future...

Kristi Stephens said...

This is SO TRUE. Stopping to think before I talk or "vent" is so crucial for me. I was just telling Nate the other day that I need to slow down the pace of my words - when I speak too quickly... I get myself in trouble. Happened this weekend, as a matter of fact! :(

Michelle said...

Tone is a conscious daily decision for me. I didn't grow up in a home where women respected the men in the house. God showed me early on that everything I had ever learned I would now have to do completely opposite to glorify Him!

I just praise Him because He lives in us, that He can make the impossible possible!

Shelley said...

How many times have I told the others in my family that "it isn't what you say, but how you say it"? Only to find my self saying things with that "tone". I hate that "tone". You have truly been used by the Lord this morning to drive home what He has already been speaking to me about. Many blessings to you.

Warren Baldwin said...

Since my post was a book review about marraige I entered it.

Good, practical advice in your post about communication. A trap I fall into? Probably having an accusatory tone, like you show in one of your examples. I'll need to ask my wife about that :).

Anonymous said...

Oh my, this hit home . . . it is something I continue to struggle with . . . and now I see my example manifesting itself in the way my 15 year old deals with his siblings. How sad . . .