“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18
“The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4
Early in our marriage, my wife and I agreed on this simple, biblical idea: words count. I can’t recall if we came to it after a disagreement, or by watching couples hurt each other, but it seems Solomon had this figured out a few millennia ago.
Reckless words pierce like swords and perverse ones crush the spirit, he warned, but soothing ones bring life and wise ones heal.
Maybe these verses underscore the obvious, but so often we treat words like computer bytes — weightless and dimensionless, and therefore harmless. Perhaps we have accepted the lie that sticks and stones break bones, but words cannot hurt us.
Leading marriage researcher John Gottman observed that couples most prone to divorce are likely to pepper their talk with criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling (giving the silent treatment).
“Can’t you do anything right?” criticizes someone’s behavior and gouges their soul.
“Don’t blame me! I did nothing wrong!” dodges responsibility behind a wall of defensiveness