Summary: How husbands and wives hurt one another . . . and what we can do about it.
1. I’ve titled tonight’s sermon "Ouch!" because that’s the way we feel after our mate hurts us with some hurtful word or action.
2. When that hurt is intentional, your relationship has some serious issues that are beyond the scope of what we’re trying to deal with here tonight. However, most of the time, married people hurt one another without meaning to. We speak or act without thinking through the consequences and end up inflicting pain on one another.
3. Tonight we’re going to talk first about How We Hurt One Another. In one of his books (Hidden Keys of a Loving Lasting Marriage), Gary Smalley has a chapter titled "Eight Ways Husbands Hurt Their Wives." We’ll look at some of the things he says. But we also want to recognize that although men are supposed to be big and tough, women have many weapons at their disposal which can pierce that armor and inflict major hurt on the men in their lives.
4. Then, we’ll talk about What To Do When Your Marriage Suffers An Ouch. There will be two points here:
a. Communication -- if our mates don’t intend to hurt us, then they may not even know what they are doing to cause that ouch. We have to tell them. Marriage manuals don’t have a chapter on mind reading, so we have to work on doing a better job communicating with one another when we feel hurt by something our mates have done.
b. Forgiveness -- most wounds heal over time, of course, but they can leave a scar. Emotional "scar tissue" can accumulate over time and become significant enough to cause a real impediment to a happy relationship. Real forgiveness allows us to leave the past in the past. [Luke 17:3-4 (NKJV) "Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 "And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ’I repent,’ you shall forgive him."] We need to take those verses and apply them to the husband-wife relationship.
I. HOW WE HURT ONE ANOTHER
A. Critical words
1. "Sticks and stones . . . words never hurt" Yeah, right! Of course, words hurt. Some married people have become expert at using words as daggers cutting straight to their mates’ hearts.
2. However, we’re talking about ouches . . . and, for our purposes, we’re defining an ouch as an unintentional hurt. Smalley illustrates with a story about a couple he calls Jim and Sarah. They had just arrived at their vacation destination at the beach. Jim walked up, pinched Sarah on the side, and commented, "We’d better watch what we eat on this trip." Let’s give the guy the benefit of the doubt and take his words at face value. Many times people do eat too much on vacation and put on a few pounds. He included himself in the statement. Maybe that’s all he was saying -- let’s be careful to stay on our diets while we’re on vacation. But that’s not the way Sarah took it. She heard him saying, "You’re fat and ugly!" Five years later, she was still self-conscious about her appearance although she was not overweight.
3. Proverbs 21:23 (NKJV) Whoever guards his mouth and tongue Keeps his soul from troubles. There is wisdom in watching what we say. Think before you speak! There’s something to be said for being "slow to speak" [James 1:19].
4. Married couples will have disagreements, but a valuable lesson is learned when we learn how to express ourselves without tearing the other person down. Let me continue with the Jim and Sarah story. After getting home from their vacation, Sarah decided to get into better shape by starting ice-skating. When she told Jim, his comment was, "What do you want to do? Become an Olympic champion?" His sarcastic reply . . . maybe meant to be humorous . . . cut her down and told her he didn’t think she was worth the money the ice skating lessons would cost.
5. Here’s the question: Is Jim too insensitive to Sarah’s feelings? Or Is Sarah too sensitive to Jim’s words? Depending on your perspective, you might make a case either way. But the point is -- if those words hurt Sarah, they hurt Jim’s marriage to Sarah. This marriage eventually ended in divorce. It’s unlikely that Jim’s wisecracks were the sole cause of the marriage failure, but they surely did not help them deal with other problems in the marriage.
B. Not paying attention
1. Smalley also tells the story of Harry and Julia. Whenever Julia wanted to talk with Harry, he tuned her out and turned on the television. It was his way of dealing with problems . . . playing like an ostrich and ignoring them. Instead of sticking his head in the sand, he stuck it in front of a t.v. screen. One night, Julia became so frustrated that she went out to the garage, got a sledgehammer, brought it back to the family room and smashed the t. v. screen. She was sure that Harry would then talk to her. She was wrong. Without saying a word, he got up, walked into the bedroom, turned on the t. v. in there and shut the door.