Sometimes back I told a friend of mine I don’t feel married.
“He’s such a buddy of mine, I don’t feel like we are husband and wife!”
At least that’s how I remember my words.
Later on that day, my friend would say something that left me in no doubt she misunderstood my words earlier.
Nothing offensive (at least not intentionally), just borderline disrespectful.
So I was getting ready to get riled up, when my words from our earlier conversation came back to me – how my buddy possibly built up her thoughts from there.
Have you ever been there, made some off the cuff statement about your husband or marriage?
You didn’t mean to sound thoughtless, infact your words were probably okay.
But you forgot to take into account the context in which you spoke them – who you said them to, how you said them, even when you said them.
We find ourselves in those tricky places as wives because we like to chatter – it’s how we do life and relationships. Lots of verbal connection.
In the course of some of our conversations, someone will make a scalding comment concerning your marriage or husband and you’ll be swinging from the roof in anger.
You don’t realize that you might have established a standard with your words.
All that idle sharing of thoughts and chatter and updates of every day life lowered a bar.
And gave others permission to tread where they shouldn’t.
Easier to maintain than to repair
It’s easier to maintain boundaries than to go back and repair them.
It’s easier to watch your mouth – however hard (or silly) it feels sometimes – than to try and rebuild a soiled reputation.
At first I wanted to correct my friend but soon realized that it wasn’t something I could “fix” in a moment.
It would take other positive reinforcements and a careful tongue.
Note: I am not implying that we should keep quiet when someone says something disrespectful. That was just my unique situation.
Not always in control
Now you can’t control how everyone receives your words. People will think what they want to think.
But you can do your job right – watch what you say, how you say it and who you say it to.
Understand that well meaning words can be taken out of context and mean something you didn’t intend them to mean.
As a wife you are a builder. Proverbs 14:1 says
“The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.”
So it’s not enough even to avoid saying the wrong things. You must be saying the right things.
Here’s a few things I try to do in my own marriage to build up our boundaries.
1. Saying nice things about him to others when opportunities arise.
Unless I watch for opportunities to build up my husband before others, I miss them completely.
Most of us are like that, we have a lot going on in our heads at any given time and we miss good opportunities to build him up in public.
Here’s an example of a missed opportunity;
A guest at your dinner table gushes about your good cooking.
Your hubby helped out a bit – he made the salad – but once the complements start flying, you hog it all, not a mention of his great salad skills.
(For the most part I think many husbands will jump in and identify themselves as the salad makers!)
Zeroing in on how great a salad-maker your husband is might seem small. But it’s really big when you look at it in the larger scheme of things.
It’s setting a tone for your relationship and keeping the bar up.
People get to watch you being nice and adoring to your husband and in turn builds a hedge around your marriage.
Takeaway: it’s not just important to restrain yourself from saying dumb things, you need to say good things!
2. I tell him how much he means to me
It’s not enough to let others know how much your husband means to you, you need to let him know.
Often times we think they know and so we don’t tell them often enough.
I am a huge work in progress too but I continue to make intentional efforts to let him know how much he means to me.
Knowing how much he’s loved and appreciated and accepted will keep his heart happy and secure in his home.
And that confidence and security will show to the outside world.
3. I watch what I say, who I say to and how i say it
I fail at this one because I am a talker. Not too much of one, but I talk enough to get me into trouble sometimes (Case in point, story above).
But I try to be careful about what I say and who I am saying it to.
Sometimes we have friends who “get us”, and those who don’t.
Some friends have been in your life since before you got married two years before, others you haven’t seen since you got married.
Always understand context. And people.
You can say something to a close buddy and she won’t take it as permission to cross a line.
But somebody else might take it as permission to begin treading where they shouldn’t.
Your turn – Ever found yourself sporting a foot in your mouth? How do you re-build again when you have lowered the bar in your marriage? I would love to hear your thoughts in Comments below.