“Can I give you a piece of advice?”
From weddings to babies, big life events have a way of bringing out the advice train from well-intentioned folks and even some complete strangers. Admittedly, I have received plenty of advice that I listened to, smiled, and then just as quickly dismissed. But I also believe we have lost the art of gleaning wisdom from those that have gone before. It’s cooler now to forge your own path, and learn from your mistakes. But what if we didn’t have to make the same mistakes as those that have already learned?
When I was getting married, we had lots of family come in from out of town. One evening I had all my aunts and female cousins hanging out and my mom suggested that everyone share a piece of marriage advice for me. I was the youngest, so everyone was already married and some were having babies. A few offered humorous tips for keeping the spark alive, and others gave sound words about how to get through tough times. While I tucked them all away and still remember each one, there was one bit of advice that I have continued to pass on to others.
My cousin Shayne told a story about a lady at her office that was constantly bashing her husband. She only had negative things to say about him. When he came to visit her at work, Shayne said she felt herself having disdain for this man even though she had never met him. It was then that she realized just how wrong it was for this woman to speak so poorly about her husband. She had painted a picture of fault that wasn’t entirely accurate. The lady at her office had chosen to focus on his weaknesses and share those with the world. Shayne determined then and there that she would never speak negatively about her husband in a public place. Her advice to me was this: Being faithful is one thing, but it’s just as important to be loyal and defend your husband’s image in his absence.
“Let no unwholesome talk come from your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29
Is it okay to be frustrated with a person’s imperfections? You bet! We are human after all. I know I’m not perfect. I didn’t marry a perfect person. But sharing those frustrations with just one close friend, as opposed to blasting them to everyone, is where the difference lies. Unfortunately, now we have public forums (social media) that make it even easier to share our less-than-fuzzy feelings with the world.
I have come back to that advice many times when I hear women speak (or write) negatively about their spouse. The rhetoric of female empowerment has gained some amazing momentum lately. I love the idea of building up strong women! I’m helping raise three girls that I pray are strong women! But I don’t think we have to do so at the expense of honoring the men in our lives. Before we share, remember: your group of friends did not promise to love through better or worse. Facebook does not have the lens of love that you have for your spouse.
“Our words give life or give death. We get to choose.” Proverbs 18:21 (MSG)