Avoiding words that hurt


Avoiding words that hurt


Sunday, September 13, 2020

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“THERE are three things that return not: the spoken word, the spent arrow, and the lost opportunity!”

A marriage is truly an honourable union and has brought untold happiness to many, but equally myriad sorrows to others. The institution that generally starts out with kind words of affection often disintegrates into bitter and fractious exchanges.

Surprisingly, at the heart of a good or bad marriage is the use or misuse of words. Few things exert the power words do. When used positively they invoke recall of the ancient gnome that pleasant sayings are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and a healing to the bones.

If kind words, therefore, contribute both to good health and a good marriage, unkind words in a marriage can be a source of heartache and stress — the fountainhead of many ills in the body.

Identifying the root of unkind words

At times the frustration of a day overwhelms to the point of causing one to snap with a thoughtless expression. Additionally, too many perpetuate the abuse they received from and witnessed while living with their parents. A third influence is entertainment that makes light of rude and offensive words.

Not to be overlooked is the power of culture that teaches “real men” to act in a certain way and cultivate a mindset that women are inferior. How, then, can mates contribute to a healthy marriage by avoiding unkind words?

- Try to feel what the other person feels

Many times, we need to put ourselves in the shoes of the other person with a view to trying to understand how they would feel when told certain things. At times I have heard people say, “But I said nothing wrong.” That may be true, but marriage is not all about right or wrong. Many times it's about how you make the person feel.

If one party believes a set of words were hurtful, the offender would do well to consider how else the words could have been expressed and apologise not just for the way you made the person feel, but apologise for the act itself.

- Take counsel from others you look to

There are couples who have tried hard in marriages that have weathered the storm over the years, and you would be surprised the practical advice you can get from these partners. Search out good examples, and avoid bad ones.

- Rekindle feelings you once shared

Remember the things you say are more a reflection of your heart (what is inside you) than your mouth. So, meditate on your spouse with appreciation; focus on the good qualities. Reminisce on those unforgettable moments you shared — the photographs, videos, the things that made you laugh. Recall them and use these from time to time to steer a conversation.

- Use 'I' over 'you'

There may be the temptation to hurl accusations if your partner has done something to make you upset. Instead of saying, “This is typical of you, to make decisions without consulting me,” why not express how you feel? For example, say, “You know I feel excluded when we don't consult together on a matter.”

The spoken word returns not. Remember that. Years after, individuals sometimes recall the depth of the hurt even with an apology. Women sometimes remark, with a hyperbolic expression, “A better him did lick mi,” to underscore the depth of the psychological scarring hurtful words occasion.

Avoiding hurtful words causes less anger, bitterness and undue stress — things that trigger negative health responses — and even when one person responds unkindly, spare yourself the tit for tat. Give a mild answer to defuse a potential quarrel. And, if tempted to say something and in doubt, you probably should leave it out.

Warrick Lattibeaudiere (PhD), a minister of religion for the past 23 years, lectures full-time in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Jamaica.

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