“You don’t even notice when you say hurtful things,” Stacy said stoically, looking over at Paul for his reaction. He too, appeared detached.
“What are you talking about?” her husband questioned.
“What you just said hurt me,” Stacy said, this time with a bit more passion. “You don’t think telling me that my family are a bunch of ‘crazies’ has any impact on me? You don’t think telling me ‘I’m just like my mother’ is hurtful?”
“You’ve said the same thing,” Paul countered defensively. “I don’t say anything you don’t also say to me. Besides that, I only tell the truth.”
“But, it’s still hurtful and you don’t get it,” she said, obviously annoyed.
Stacy and Paul had been married for only three years and clearly they had developed a habit of saying whatever they thought, hiding behind the covering of ‘speaking the truth.’ What many seem to ignore that Scripture implores us to ‘speak the truth in love,’ and many of our words are hurtful, lacking any loving intention.
I paused for a moment during the counseling session to ask a challenging question.
“Have you folks ever heard of ‘the third eye’?
Both shook their heads ‘no.’
“The third eye is that part of us that watches what we say and do. It is an ability that we cultivate to watch not only what we say and do, but to watch the reaction of the person we are talking to. For example, just now Paul you defended yourself for the labels you give to Stacy’s family. You told Stacy that your motivation is driven by truth, but you seem oblivious to her words that those labels wound her.”
Paul sat silent for a moment.
“I don’t know what you’re driving at,” he said, anger seemingly welling up within him.
“I call it ‘the third eye.’ It is an ability, influenced by the work of the Spirit in our lives, to help us ensure our words are seasoned with grace. Sometimes I find that our third eye seems to be on the blink. We don’t notice the impact of our words and the power they have to create or destroy connection with our mate. Even in these few minutes together, do you now see how you say things that hurts the other?”
Again, both seemed a bit puzzled as to what I was saying. The concept that both say things, without thinking, that may be ‘truthful’ and yet hurtful. Many seem to hide behind the veil of ‘truthfulness’ as if that should not hurt our mate. Yet, any word is powerful.
Consider this Scripture:
“But I say to you, every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).
Let’s consider how we might cultivate ‘the third eye.’
First, listen to everything you say. This is easier said than done. We often say whatever is on our mind. We blurt out our thoughts without due consideration. Furthermore, we seem oblivious to the impact of our words on others. We often say what we want to say and give others the sole responsibility of reacting the way they choose to react, insensitive to the fact that we may have said something hurtful.
Second, slow things down. Just as we encourage children to ‘think before you speak,’ so we should also think before we speak. We should reflect on what we want to say, consider the impact, and then speak in a way that is encouraging and not hurtful.
Third, ask how what we said was received. This can be done by simply asking, “How do you feel about what I said?” Or, “How did that land with you?” Practicing those questions bring us into closer contact with our mate.
Fourth, consider their reaction. Did what we say have a positive impact or was it hurtful? Did it build them up or tear them down? Was it said in order to bring healing and health to the relationship, or was it said to cause injury?
Fifth, take responsibility for our words and the impact of them. Chances are good that if our mate is hurt by our words, there was something hurtful said. While this is not always the case, most often it is true. People aren’t injured out of the blue. Take responsibility for the power of your words.
Finally, agree to speak words of encouragement to each other. Create a moratorium on words of criticism. Determine to be more sensitive to how you speak to each other, cultivating a ‘third eye’ that watches what you say, how you say them and how they land. You will strengthen your marriage with this tool.
Share your feedback or send a confidential note to me at TheRelationshipDoctor@Gmail.com and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on my website www.MarriageRecoveryCenter.com and YourRelationshipDoctor.com. You’ll find videos and podcasts on saving a troubled marriage, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage. I also offer free 20 minute consultations!
Publication date: July 2, 2012
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