Don’t Say Everything You Think

I love this post for two reasons: one is because Doug Fields is a friend and mentor of mine and I think everything he writes is gold. The second is that my wife and I both tend to be verbal processors when it comes to our emotions and that is … good? Yeah, okay, yeah it’s good, usually … but not always. Anyway, I liked this post and hope you do too. Also, him and Jim Burns have a book on marriage you can check out here


The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. —Proverbs 12:18

I have a buddy whose wife walked into the family room as he was watching TV and simply asked, “How do you like my new haircut?” He turned her way, scanned her new coif, and confidently replied, “It looks nice. Sorta like you’re back in high school.” She replied, “Hmmm. I’ll give you a do-over! Why don’t you try that again–how do you like my new haircut I spent $150 on?” He said, “I’m trying to tell you it looks great. I’m not sure it’s $150 worth of great though.” My friend slept on the couch that night.

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I’m sure I’m not going to reveal anything new or surprising here, but without much work or premeditation, spouses can be quite nasty to one another.

Since it doesn’t take intelligence to be critical, let me suggest one marriage relationship principle that has helped me, I realize that this is easier said than done, but it is as simple as this: don’t say everything you think!

I understand that holding your tongue takes self-control and a degree of humility, but the results are amazing! When your spouse triggers an emotion in you and you want to react with a verbal dagger…don’t. When your spouse injures your pride and you want to say something that will be a zinger comeback and put your spouse in his or her place…don’t. When your spouse exhausts your patience and a strong reaction will make you feel better…don’t.

I have a quick wit and a propensity for sarcasm, and with this amazing combination of skills, I create some really strong statements…that Cathy never hears. Why? Because as a husband I’ve learned that I don’t need to say everything that I think. When I slip up and allow the statements to escape my mouth, I end up wounding my wife, triggering more reactions, demeaning the one I love most, heightening tension levels, and create negative memories.

Words are always powerful. But misguided words hurt and they hurt deeply. As Proverbs 12:18 points out, using reckless words is like stabbing another with a sword. In almost every instance, it’s best to keep the sword in its scabbard.

Remember, just because you think it, doesn’t mean you have to say it. Not all words must be spoken.

• Proverbs 21:23 [MSG] reads, “Watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.” How have you seen the truth of this verse demonstrated in your marriage?

• What circumstances seem to trigger the likelihood of making a snarky remark to me?

• Is there a common element among these circumstances that triggers your vulnerability to say something to snarky to me? (For example: hunger, anger, feeling lonely or tired?) If so, how can we work together to minimize these triggers?

Together, discuss potential action steps each spouse can take to work on not saying everything you think to your partner. Then, each spouse should verbally commit to work on one of these action steps in the coming week. Close your devotional time together in prayer and ask God to give you both wisdom and strength to follow through on your commitment. A week from now, check in with each other about how each spouse did with their commitment.