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Save Your Marriage from Insults

Monday, October 2, 2006

posted by Andrew

I was out for a walk with my dog last night and took a short-cut past my local rugby-football club. While walking past a group of boys in a training session, I overheard someone putting another player down, and it gave me the opportunity to ponder on what had happened. In looking at what motivated one person to put another down in this situation, I contemplated my own experience with put-downs.

My own experience is somewhat different due to my extroverted personality, and this personality attracts a certain amount of attention, both positive and negative. As much as I have a happy-go-lucky type of attitude to life, attacks from others can really get me down.

I guess as part of my need to protect myself from the labels and judgements of others I have created an insular world and group of people around me that lead me to believe, albeit temporarily, that I am accepted wholeheartedly and without comment, derision or scorn.

In doing this, I wonder if I set myself up for a disappointment when those outside of this circle let themselves down and further dampen my hope that wider humanity is as evolved and accepting as the people I surround myself with. As much as I tell myself that I don’t care for the thoughts and opinions of others, one small comment from a complete stranger can still cut deep.

I don’t believe it is often what is said moreso than the way it is spoken. An observation, an insult, or a label is often hurled toward another without feeling and without consequence. Some people would tell me that a stranger’s insult is indicative of their inadequacies, or that their need to put down others highlights their own poor self-esteem.

There is more power to our words than we give credit, and none moreso than when we use our words as weapons. This is especially true when we use words to wound our loved ones. We know and understand our loved ones intimately, and sharing our innermost secrets with our loved ones exposes us to vulnerability. Our trust in our partners allows us to share our secrets and overcome this fear of vulnerability.

Your marriage partnership is in itself an insular environment because of this trust, and an attack on a deeply personal level from within this most trusted environment can be little short of devastating. The person we trust most in the world knows all of our secrets in the same way you know theirs, and hurling an insult at them can be a betrayal of this deep trust you have in one another. The betrayal of trust in your partner by using their vulnerability against them can continue to wound them long after the insult has been forgiven.

So when this sacred trust is shattered, what do we do to undo the damage? 

  • We can ask for forgiveness, hoping that the humility of asking for forgiveness can undo the damage that the insult inflicts.
  • We can recognize the betrayal of trust and vow never to use our secrets as a weapon.
  • We can look at what motivates us to wound others so deep, perhaps in an effort to understand our own wounds and why we hurt others
  • We can take responsibility for the power of our words by stopping ourselves from wounding, even when we are hurt. We can make a commitment to filter our comments and exercise self-restraint
  • We can act with love instead of hate.

What is your opinion? What additional marriage advice can you offer to others when you use words as weapons?

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