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Virtuous Conversation

August 15, 2014
Mark and Erin Harrison

“The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil” Proverbs 31:11

What does it mean to have the heart of your husband safely trusting in you? We can spoil his trust and confidence in us through our poor conduct and conversation. Can your husband safely trust in your conversation? When he is away from you, will he wonder what you are saying about your shared private life or about him?

Back Biting
Talking bad about our husbands to others can spoil his reputation among the brethren. When a wife unloads to friends about how unreasonable or controlling he is, it may make her feel better for the moment, but it will spoil his good name for a long time to come.
I have had two sisters in Christ continually cry to me about how horrible their husbands treated them. One wife would call me in desperation, telling me that she could not take his controlling nature any longer. She felt she was not allowed to go anywhere or do anything but serve him. It did not matter that she had talents and dreams. She was forced to set her life aside to be at his beck and call. I listened, I cried with her, and I began to despise her husband. There were times I would get so angry for how poorly she was being treated that I would tell her to leave him. Wow! I know now that I was wrong to feed into her backbiting as I did. The right thing would have been for my husband and I to have a meeting with her and her husband. Her husband deserved his day in court. He had no voice, and I did not get to hear his heart as I judged him and condemned him.

living virtuously

Our poor conversation pulled me into relating situations in my own marriage that I was not happy with, so we began to commiserate. Our husbands were brought under the slaughter of our words. Every time I would be around her husband, I would think he was such a jerk, even though he would be so very kind to our family.
Years later, I came to realize that I was a wretched wife. I saw how trustworthy my husband was, how he would never go around telling people about how nasty I was to him. He did not tell people when I would slam a door in his face or tell him that I was leaving him, when I did not get my way. I could act like a total, unreasonable jerk to him, and trust that my good name would not be smeared. No one wants other people to know what happens behind closed doors. Even the people who have a great measure of self-control can act nasty in their own seething quiet way, and would not want others to find out about it. From then on, I knew it would spoil the trust we had in each other. I stopped my slanderous tongue against my dear husband. Afterwards, when another wife came to me about her troubles with her unreasonable husband, I did not cater to her or feel sorry for her. I saw my own past ugliness in her every word. We know there are husbands out there who beat their wives, molest their children, commit adultery, watch porn, or are addicted to alcohol and drugs. What a blessing it is to be married to an honorable man who may be stern and controlling, but only wants to protect his family. He is generally like that because he feels a grave responsibility to the Lord for his children. Her husband carries a heavy weight in his heart, making sure he provides the resources and protection that his family needs. And then his wife goes around telling people all that he says behind closed doors instead of trusting the Lord to give her the grace to endure. When you put it into perspective, the beaten wife of a perverted husband would give anything to have such a protective man whom she could trust. It is all in your perspective. I have learned not to tolerate the complaining wife. It is hard for me to not comfort and allow her that venting, but I know it is one sided and it spoils the trust that he may have in her. If she were actually in a dangerous or abusive situation, I would have called the police and had him arrested. I do not tolerate abuse, since I was abused as a child. If you are in an abusive situation, I would suggest the same. It is a sin to enable such abuse to continue. In this woman’s situation, she was simply not happy because her husband was being harsh and unkind towards her. She feels unappreciated and overlooked. A typical “Me Monster” situation.

What can an unhappy wife do to keep her conversation pure?

  • She can pray.
  • Try to treat her husband the way she would wish to be treated in all areas of life.
  • Make a practice of writing down all the wonderful things about her husband.
  • If she is faced with an opportunity to talk bad about her husband: stop talking, pray, and change the subject.
  • Say something kind about her husband in public every opportunity she gets. It is better they think he is her hero for his protective ways than for him to be known as a tyrant.

TMI (Too Much Information)
Are you telling intimate details of your married life? Can your husband trust in what you are telling others about his private life? His finances? This has caused my husband more frustration than almost anything else I have ever done. I tell people too much information. Recently, when my husband was having an ailment, I asked him why he waited so long to tell me about it. He said that he was afraid to tell me because he thought I might broadcast such a thing. I had a terrible habit of just saying whatever came to my little mind. Sometimes he would just shake his head in disbelief that I actually said a certain thing. He did not trust my mouth at all. He knew it was an untamed thing and could burst forth with just about anything at anytime. It takes years to regain the confidence and trust in a person once it has been lost. I told him that I would never tell people about his personal issues and that it has literally been years since I have done such a thing. He looked back at me and said that I had been doing much better in recent years. When I used to get around other people, I would become nervous if there was a space of time that no one was talking. I felt it was my God given responsibility to fill that void. Then the floodgates would open and I would tell all. To train me, he would have a slip of paper in his pocket that he wrote TMI on. When we would be in a situation where I was talking and I started to give out too much information about private things such as our finances or other personal issues, he would flash that piece of paper in my direction. Even when I was on the phone he would pass by with that paper as a gentle reminder.
That really worked for me. I wanted my husband to trust me again, so I really appreciated how he helped me overcome. My husband showed me these bible verses:

Proverbs 21:23-Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.

Matthew 12:36 - But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

Psalms 19:14 - Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Ephesians 4:29 - Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

James 1:19 -Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath...

He did not show me these verses because he felt he was better than me, but because these verses are based on his deep love for me and concern for my witness to others. I can see so much wisdom in his lack of words. My many words have gotten me into worlds of trouble throughout my life. I see this now, but there was a time that I was not so appreciative.
The one thing that has driven me the craziest in our marriage is how little he talks. But in reality, it has become the best thing for me. I simply could not understand why he had almost nothing to say. What was he thinking? Was he thinking at all? On the flip side he once told me how much he loves to hear me talk to him. On long rides, listening to all my stories, he actually enjoys my many words and feels empty if I stop talking to him. One day he said to me after I wondered why he did not talk very much, “You are like a babbling brook. Your voice is a comfort rolling over me. I am a deep well. It takes a lot of effort to draw the water up. It only gets drawn up when there is a need.” Amazing! I love how his few words carry the meaning of my thousands. I have learned that the freshest water comes from the deepest wells. Everyone knows it is unsafe to drink out of a stream unless it is flowing from a fresh spring. You can see how clean it is by the clarity of the water. If it is clear and cool, you know it is spring fed and you can trust in it. The spring of life is Christ. If you are tapped into Him, pure words flow from your heart.

Lord, please let our conversation be pure and undefiled. Let our words be healing and edifying to our husbands so that his heart can safely trust in us.

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6 comments on “Virtuous Conversation”

  1. My wife and I have celebrated our 45th anniversary, and for most of that time I have cringed at the things my wife shares about our personal life. It was especially worrisome during the years I served as a church pastor. I've never been able to convince her how violated I felt and how hard it was to entrust my personal information to her. Her "pat" answer has always been, "I'm just an honest, open person with no secrets." But some things must be kept in confidence. My years as a pastor eroded my marriage relationship because my wife struggled with my practice of NOT telling her things, such as what somebody confided to me during pastoral counseling. This problem is still not resolved, now that we are both retired. But I am going to share this article with her and hope it will help. Thank you, sister in Christ, for being willing to discuss difficult matters with candor and Biblical basis. God bless you!

  2. Trying to find a balance when ministering to women can be a delicate situation. Although I love the article, I am not sure I can agree with this author's balance. I am a wife who has lived in an over controlling marriage. The more submissive I tried to be the more abusive my husband became (in many areas). I finally came to the conclusion that he just could not handle/walk in that responsibility. I also came to understand that he walked in so much fear of failure, standing before authority answering for his family (he was military), etc. I had to make a decision; leave him or learn to stand. I am not his dog to do as he wills nor put up with all his (whatever current) behaviors. I belong to God not my husband. Yes, I understand that the Bible says we were made for man. But as I surrendered to God and HIS ways I learned how to serve my husband in the Lord and stand firm on my convictions in MY relationship with God. It wasn't until then that my husband had to start facing his issues and deal with them. I lived a hard life when the balance was off and sadly so did our kids. I think the greatest key was that I never gave up believing in God and that His ways were perfect. With much messing up and just getting it wrong "I am a woman after God's heart"! And praise God, with some walking away for a little while, out of 7 children: 5 are grown and following the Lord. The two younger are doing well, but the proof will come later.

  3. You make your life seem so perfect, even when it is not perfect. I can't be as good as you. I fail so much, I can't stand. Every day I fail and shrink back in fear. My family is ruined. How can some people mess up and it works to rightousness, and others mess up in the same way and it doesn't work? I can't seem to stand.