My wife and I have been married a little over 6 and a half years and we have been dating just under 11 years (yes we still count the years from the first time I asked her to be my girlfriend. It reminds us that the dating part doesn’t have to end). After I asked my wife to marry me, we took pre-marital counseling classes through our church. We heard great advice such as: continuing to date each, saying I love you, and praying together. One piece of advice in particular blew my mind. Our counseling pastor said, “Get rid of sarcasm.” What? Seriously? Huh. I’ll mull that over and let you know how I feel about it later.
Sarcasm used to be my go to guy. Sarcasm has been my buddy since I was a teenager (maybe even younger). I had quick-striking tongue just waiting for a listening ear. Sarcasm is how I made people laugh and it is how I expressed my frustration. Unfortunately, sarcasm solves nothing. Sarcasm accomplishes nothing. Sarcasm is kind of like drinking soda, it may seem good but it really has no benefits for you whatsoever.
I have had to learn to swallow my sarcasm and actually communicate in a way that respects others. Sarcasm might provide laughter to everyone on the outside looking in but the one on the receiving end of sarcasm will tell you a different story. Just ask my wife.
We get along great. We both have very similar interests, we both have low-key, easy-going personalities. We do not yell or scream when we argue. If we are overly frustrated, we wait until we calm down to talk it out. It wasn’t always like this. I never yelled at her but some of my responses to her frustration with me were never productive. Whenever we argued and I felt she was being snippy, I would reply with my own snippy remark. Something like…” Can I have my head back please?” Husbands and boyfriends DO NOT DO THIS. Dig deep, and find a reply that is much nicer, less antagonizing, and maybe even have a reply that will settle the dispute.
Every time I spoke those words, I felt terrible. This is how I talk to my girlfriend and quite possibly my future wife? Not once did she respond with an insult of her own or yell at me. Oftentimes she would get quiet, then softly say sometimes with tears, “Please don’t talk to me like that.” She would then tell me again what she was trying to say. Sometimes my sarcastic replies were out of my own anger and frustration. Telling her what I felt would have saved us the trouble of fighting over petty issues or even major issues.
I almost laughed when I heard our counseling pastor tell us to get rid of sarcasm in our marriage. Sarcasm is the only way to communicate. Isn’t it? Sarcasm provides power, humor and can be an escape mechanism to stressful situations. As our premarital counseling classes were coming to an end, I contemplated the advice our counseling pastor had given us: Get rid of Sarcasm.
I looked back at my conversations with my girlfriend, friends, coworkers, and family. More often than not, sarcasm has hurt relationships instead of healed relationships. Sarcasm more often than not has caused arguments with some and has insulted many others. I looked back at a time when I was on the receiving end of a sarcastic comment. I do not ever remember feeling good after receiving a sarcastic comment.
Proverbs 12:18 (ESV) says,” There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” To Continue in Proverbs, 15:1 (ESV) says, “A soft answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Titus 3:2 (ESV) says, ” to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy to all people.” James 1:26 (ESV) says, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart; this person’s religion is worthless.”
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary says that sarcasm is a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain.
Wow. Our pastor was being serious. Our words have the power to uplift, heal, and restore but also the power to tear someone down. When I said I do, I had to get serious about the way I talk to my wife. Am I going to be the husband that holds his tongue in anger then talks respectfully or Am I going to be the husband that lashes out in frustration using words to humiliate my wife? My wife and I also talked of having children (we have 3 now). Am I going to be the dad who uses words to hurt their mom and even our children or am I going to be a dad who uses a gentle tongue to uplift and encourage my family? I pray that it is the latter.
Not all days are perfect but through patience, understanding and a gentle reminder from my wife, sarcasm is no longer a sword I am using.