by Eddie Jones
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak." - Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 7
When it comes to talking men are at a serious disadvantage. Experts tell us that women speak, on average, 20,000 words a day. Men might utter 20. We process information, calculate our response and carefully weigh the impact of our words. Often we do this in front of the TV.
Let's say, for example, that your wife asks if the new pair of jeans she bought makes her look fat. If you're like most married men you may have some vague idea that a conversation is about to transpire that could seriously damage your marriage, not to mention your ear drums, so you run to the garage. But suppose, as you open the door and step into the pantry, you remember that you don't have a garage. Well this would be a good time to keep quiet.
The writer of Ecclesiastes didn't have cable or TV but he did have 700 wives and 300 concubines, so in addition to having some serious dinner conflicts come Valentine's Day, he also struggled to find a quite place to read the sports section. This may explain why Solomon spent so much time writing things in his journal like, "Wife 587 is talking again. Oh God, can't you make it stop?" This may also explain the origins of the garage.
If there's one thing we can learn from the wisest king on earth it's that there is a time to speak and a time to remain silent. A few centuries later when the King of Kings was asked if the woman caught in adultery should be stoned, Christ kept quiet. When he was arrested, beaten and sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit, Jesus remained silent. When mocked and encouraged to call on His Father and save himself, our Lord refused. I'm not suggesting marriage is anywhere near as excruciating as a slow death on the cross. Okay, maybe just a little on the days when you have to vacuum, dust and fold the laundry.
But I am saying that when it comes to verbal communication Solomon provided wise council and Christ a good example to follow. Everyone needs to be noticed, understood and heard. We all need more affirmation and less confrontation. So compliment, don't criticize and if you can't say something nice, keep your mouth shut. Or at least hide in the garage.
by Cindy Sproles
Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 7
I peaked around the door into the living room and saw my husband staring through, not at, the television, his brow furrowed. Obviously he had more on his mind than his team's injured quarterback who was being helped off the field. The network cut to a commercial so I walked to the couch and wrapped my arms around him, burying my face into the fold of his neck. He shifted his weight, leaning away.
"Is it my breath or are you mad at me?"
"Just trying to watch the game."
"But it's a commercial." He shrugged and continued to stare at an ad for fabric softener. I snuggled up next to him and asked what had happened to the player, if he was out for good or just a few plays. My husband reached for the remote and changed the channel.
I asked his opinion of the election, how things were going at work, and if he'd given any more thought to our travel plans for Christmas. He just glared at me with dead eyes and said, "Not now, Cin. I'm not in the mood."
Not in the mood? To talk? He has a mood for that?
I understand that women converse on a whole different level than men. When it comes to talking we got more gears than a logging truck. But I also know that solitude can be deadly, isolation the first step toward depression. Given enough time, what begins as a sulk grows into a full blown funk.
I mentioned my husband's foul mood to a co-worker. He said I should give my spouse some space; that sometimes guys just have to think things through. I thought that through and decided it was pretty lame advice from a guy with a college degree and most of his teeth, but I took his advice and kept quite. I didn't prod, push or ask what was wrong with my husband. Just let him brood while I went about the house humming Kenny Chesney songs, as I projected a positive attitude.
I still don't know what was bothering my husband that week. He never said. I don't think it was anything I did, but I'm a wife so when he's in a bad mood I assume it's my fault. I wish he would open up, share his feelings and expose his heart the way I long to share mine with him. But he's just a guy who's not so much tall as he is handsome and quiet. The wisdom of Solomon directed us that there is a time for everything under the sun -- a time to speak and a time to be silent. I suppose this was my time to be silent. And as hard as it was....it was good advice.
If he wants to talk, I'll listen. If he wants to walk it off, I'll hike behind him. And if he just wants to be loved and left alone, I can do that, too. The important thing is that I heard him say "I do." If my husband never says another word to me he's said enough.
Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles write the popular He Said, She Said Devotions and co-founded ChristianDevotions.us. They host the BlogtalkRadio show, Christian Devotions Speak Up!Christian Devotions Speak Up!