“Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church–a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor–since they’re already “one” in marriage.” Ephesians 5:25-28 (MSG)
I don’t think there is any more clear instruction as how we are to TALK to our wives!
I discovered this in a very difficult way during the time my wife and I were separated. For a very long time I was not speaking words of LIFE over her but of DEATH. I criticized her emotions, her reactions to me, and fought for my own way until she couldn’t deal with it any more. Alone at night with my thoughts and my own emotions (for five months), I figured out that the problem was not her or her emotions, but me and my words and tone! I realized I blamed her for all of her problems AND all of mine. And I always had to be RIGHT. Which made her wrong – with both WORDS and TONE.
During the months of counseling that followed I learned to listen and clarify what she was saying before having an emotional response (usually). I learned that I didn’t have to correct her, even if I thought she was wrong, because I might be wrong, too (sometimes). I learned that she just needed me to validate her feelings – not agree with them (sometimes agree with them?). When I focused on HER needs instead of my own, my words and emotions calmed down (along with my tone), and we were able to have real conversations, where both of us felt heard (most of the time!).
When Chandra feels heard, she feels like we are moving towards becoming ONE FLESH. Communication is how she feels INTIMACY. She needs to know I see her. She needs to know I want to hear her. She needs to know that I want to share my days with her. I also learned that it is my responsibility, as her husband, to INVITE her into that communication and intimacy with the WORDS I use to “evoke her beauty” and “bring out her best”. There is no other way to speak to my wife than the way Jesus speaks to us (words and tone) if I want to “evoke her beauty” and “bring out her best”, and I want her trust me with her feelings.
Ken Nair, in his book “Discovering the Mind of a Woman” (a great book if you want to love your wife better!), says “If Christ’s goal was to be one with God,” (we know it was) “then a man must learn how to demonstrate oneness with God in Christ through oneness with his wife”. And that oneness must include words from me that evoke ONE FLESH.
“In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies…No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.” – Ephesians 5:28-29