After years of studying the nuances of these exchanges, Gottman became startlingly successful at predicting which couples would divorce. The most telling indicators, he claims, are expressions of contempt. An eye roll or a mildly disdainful put-down was more worrisome than outright conflict. In fact, the presence of contempt in a marriage affects not only the survival of the relationship, but even the immune systems of the parties involved; spouses who live with chronic contempt get more colds than those who don’t. Carolyn Arends, Christianity Today article, The Trouble With Cussing Christians.
Yesterday, I wrote here about words, forms of speech, and how the things we say have the power to uplift or destroy those others who share our lives with us. Today, I wanted to share the link to a Christianity Today article I read that deals with expressions of speech and the contempt that surrounds them, as reflected in the opening paragraph on this page, but first, I wanted to explain why I’m sharing this article and how its meaningful to me.
As many of my readers know, I recently returned from what I have dubbed the Great Hoose Road Trip of 2013. What an experience! My hubby and me, driving for countless hours, no agenda in hand, no reservations made, taking the highway and the beauty that is America as it comes, our only guide an old Tom Tom navigational system and the recommendations of friends and family to see this or that attraction while away. It was a great experience, but a trying one as well for this
control freak highly organized, ubber schedule-conscious individual. God was with us on that trip, and really He was the one we depended upon much more than the Tom Tom or my organizational abilities, but you know how it is to venture out into the unknown. Scary. Trying at times. Anxious, while thrilling.
Or maybe only we Hoose’s are crazy enough to attempt such things.
I don’t drive in North Carolina–long story, for another day–and since NC was our first point of interest for our road trip, we set off from home with Bob behind the wheel. Those of you who know us Hoose’s realize that this is an uncommon thing. Hoose men don’t enjoy driving, so in the Hoose household the women do all the heavy lifting when it comes to travel. But because I don’t drive in NC and we were headed for NC, and because we had a rented Ford Escape and Bob wanted to play in it, he drove as we pulled out of the drive. All went well until the beltway around DC.
The Tom Tom was the boob who sent us onto the beltway, and we, not thinking, blindly followed its lead. Big Mistake! Huge! I don’t drive in NC, so Bob was driving when we hit the beltway, and Bob HATES big cities and therefore driving in commuter traffic at 4:45pm, near DC, bumper to bumper at 60mph is not his idea of fun. This is one example of a time when I became tense and surly during our trip and began burning up text messages with my prayer partners, looking for divine reinforcement. I didn’t say anything out-of-the-way at this juncture, and the prayer support really helped to calm me, but later, on our return trip, when we were again driving in commuter traffic and this time with it raining, we missed visual contact with a driver in our blind spot and nearly side swiped someone. Yep, you guessed it, an expletive departed from between my otherwise saintly lips.
Before you judge me, know, it was only one, and I quickly got myself under control.
Writing about words, expressions of speech, and the effectiveness of our communications yesterday reminded me of that tense moment with my love on the highway. I’m sure my expression at that moment was neither uplifting, nor encouraging to his heart, and it didn’t help me feel better either. It was born of exhaustion and unexpected delays, but that’s no excuse. The Christianity Today article you can find here reminded me how much I appreciate the refinement of our characters that comes of being born again and knowing Jesus has changed me. I don’t depend on eye rolling, arguing, the utterance of expletives, or expressions of contempt to get by any more, though at one time I did. I may resort to them occasionally (actually rarely and only with great provocation, I am human), but they do not define my everyday life. Thank you, Jesus! That’s growth.
I thought the article was good stuff and reflective of what takes place in almost every troubled marriage, and wanted to recommend it to you today. I hope it encourages you in your walk with Jesus, as it has me, in mine.
Be blessed and have a great weekend!