Sticks and Stones

photoRecently, Andy and I were having a conversation with a friend who is emerging from a difficult chapter in his marriage. Jay and Ellen (not their real names) have been married just under fifteen years. They have four amazing kids, a beautiful home, good jobs, and tons of friends.

While nothing was dramatically wrong in their relationship, they realized what had begun as humor and innocuous teasing had slowly become a bad habit. The bad habit grew into something more significant, eroding the once-healthy respect and affection that had characterized their early marriage years.

Thankfully, Jay and Ellen both realized it. They reached out for help from an older, been-around-the-block, wise couple. GREAT first move. After about a year of intentionally making some needed changes and establishing new habits, much healing has taken place.

A few thoughts to consider…

  • It’s the little things that add up and become really big things. A marriage isn’t rocked to its core by affairs and addictions only.
  • Even for couples with great senses of humor, making the person you love the brunt of the joke cuts more deeply than you think.
  • Dishonoring your spouse, even in the smallest ways, quickly becomes a pattern and snowballs.
  • Little cutting comments lodge in the heart and eventually drain affection.
  • Little life-giving comments also lodge in the heart and enrich affection.
  • The way you talk to your spouse is most likely the way your sons and daughters will talk to theirs.
  • The way you talk to your spouse is most likely the way your sons and daughters will allow themselves to BE talked to by theirs.

So, how are you doing with your words? Are there some habits that have slowly developed and are beginning to erode your most important relationships? Please don’t turn a blind eye to it just because it seems small right now. Don’t let a bad habit continue because it brings laughs from people who ultimately don’t matter as much to you. Sticks and stones break our bones, AND words hurt.


  1. Lisa says

    What timing! I have been noticing lately how my daughter is talking to my husband… it just sounds disrespectful. I was thinking just this morning that it is mimicking the banter I use with him; sarcasm is my love language, after all! Thank you for writing this and giving more clarification to my thoughts. I will be greatly considering your suggestions today.

  2. Tifani Thompson says

    Oh Gosh!,,,,so so true! We loved how Pastor Andy also talked about this in ‘It comes from within’. That was such an awesome awesome intense series!! We have to keep our ‘heart issues’ in check! It’s not always an easy thing to do!:( Our children hear every tone and every word we say…and then they repeat It all. We have seen it in our children, especially when there is stress in the air about something. We have such a big job as parents to express healthy healthy hearts to our spouse and precious children. Sticks and stones break our bones, AND words hurt! THANK YOU for sharing this!

  3. Lisa D. says

    Great points! I’m so grateful that when our 3 children were younger, their dad taught them and modeled for them respect for me and I did the same. When they were young, they would carry their plate to the sink (and later load the dishwasher) and he would have them thank me for dinner. Even through the teenage years they continued this. When we were first married, a wise counselor told us to never ridicule or tear down each other in public. He said we were to be the ones who encouraged not discourage. 28 years later we continue to try to do that.

  4. faye goodman says

    wow my toes really hurt right now.. this was a bad pattern years ago and I can see me allowing it to creep in again. more and more mindful of my tone and my words…my little grandson is listening……Lord help me to mindful of my words and my tone….thanks for sharing

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