“If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all!” — This is fabulous advice for our kids. It might even be better advice for us wives.
When married women get together, they tend to talk a lot. I suppose when any group of women gets together they talk a lot. But what is dangerous about us married women is that we all have something in common to talk about – a husband.
Our many words might not be so detrimental if our inclination was to use positive and uplifting words, but we all know that’s not true. Even when we have a wonderful marriage, we are more inclined to talk about the bad than we are to mention the good. And a potentially more common problem is – even if there is nothing “bad” to talk about, we can be utterly careless in what we say.
There are a bazillion issues we can think through when talking about the topic of speaking highly of our husbands, but I will narrow my aim to a particular type of verbiage that sneaks into our conversations. It is subtle enough that we might not notice it. I will call it the casual put down (or CPD).
Be On The Lookout
This sneaky little problem especially presents itself when wives find themselves away from their husbands for a chunk of time. Amidst small talk or random conversations, someone will inevitably ask what the family (or the husband) is doing during this current “girl time.” The dialogue may start innocent enough, but if you listen closely, you will hear the CPD’s sprinkled throughout the discussion. And if you are not careful, you will likely partake…and you may not even know you are doing it.
So what exactly is a CPD (besides a Heather-made-up acronym)? It is a careless comment that may or may not intend to put down your husband, but it does. It frequently comes in the form of an answer to a question, such as: “What is the family up to tonight?” or “How does your husband manage everything while you are gone?”
Then comes our response, the moment we will choose whether or not to utilize a CPD.
How we answer those types of questions will either show full confidence in our husband’s ability to manage without us, or we will poke fun of how we think they can’t. We will speak highly of them as fathers, or we will humorously joke about the likelihood that everything is falling apart during our absence. We will affirm that all is likely going well at home, or we will make a point to mention anything that could be going wrong.
Picture these responses that could initially seem innocent, but on second thought are clearly a “put down”…
“He is fine when I’m out, but NOTHING gets done.”
“Who knows what they are up to! We will be lucky if the kids don’t end up in the ER.”
“You know daddies; they get to have all the fun. I’ll have to come home and be the bad guy.”
“It’s a hassle to leave because I always come home to everything being such a mess!”
While harm might not be intended, each statement says “HE doesn’t do it (whatever it is) as well as I do.” Or it says, “HE can not handle what I can handle.”
But What If My Critique is TRUE!?
First of all, often times, it’s not true. Many husbands manage plenty fine – they just don’t want to do things the same way we do them!
Second, it would be just fine if they couldn’t do all of the things that you do regarding the home, the chores, the kids, the meals, the schedules, etc. These things are part of your regular routines, you should be able to execute your responsibilities like a well-oiled machine. Think about it, if your husband is suddenly being thrown into YOUR responsibilities, it would make sense that he will not operate as amazingly as you do — JUST LIKE you couldn’t walk into his workplace and instantly be an expert at all he does every day.
Third, and most important for the topic at hand, we need to keep our mouths shut if we don’t have something nice to say. We should be our husband’s biggest cheerleader; we should want to make him look good, rather than making him sound like an incapable inferior man worth joking about.
Guilty as Charged
It is unlikely that we intend to put our husbands down in casual conversation. That is why we need to be careful. It is easy to throw out comments in order to make conversation and forget that it matters what we say. We can forget that it could very well be sin that falls out of our mouth! Our put down’s may be casual, but they are no less wrong and sinful.
May Psalm 141:3 be our earnest plea, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” This is essentially a prayer to remind us if we have nothing nice to say we should say nothing at all…truly good advice for us wives.
While you always need to be on guard, be sure to watch your words when you head into time with “the girls.” As conversations unfold, remember that a CPD ought to have no place in your vocabulary.