Anyone who knows my husband knows that he is a man of few words. However, the words he says are so golden, they make you want to stop what you’re doing and listen. As a woman with many words, I have learned to listen to him and give him the respect he deserves.
But what do we do when neither of us have anything to say?
After two and a half years of marriage, we’ve learned that sometimes, words aren’t necessary. We love driving home in the car just holding hands, not saying a word during the entire half hour drive. When I’m crying, Lenny will put his arms around me and just hold me, the only sound between us my heaving sobs. When Lenny had a busy day at work and doesn’t want to talk at the moment, I stand by his side and wait, in silence, until he’s ready to talk.
How do we know when it’s time to be silent? Well, we’ll never know unless we try it!
James 1:19 says that we must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Although this verse is used to talk about listening, I want to focus on the second part of our instruction: be slow to speak. In a culture that loves texting and feeling compelled to give an answer to everything, it doesn’t make sense to stay silent when you have an answer.
To use a quote that has been attributed to Stephen R. Covey, “The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand.
We listen to reply.” Maybe to show we understand, we don’t need to reply. Maybe to simply be there for our spouses, we can sit in silence.
A great example of people who were silent in the Bible were Job’s friends. After Job had lost everything, his friends came from their homes (which weren’t very close to his house, by the way!):
“When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:11-13, NIV).
So, give silence a try this week. Whether one of you is grieving or stressed, or one of you is celebrating, try to spend at least a half hour in silence. While sitting there together, pray for one another, and think about what you appreciate about each other.
Because then, when you both talk to each other, you will lean into one another, as the words you choose to say will be golden.