There's an old saying "Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words can never hurt me." I'm not so sure that's true.
I was keeping our grandchildren for three weeks while our daughter and husband were on a trip to Africa. The boys, along with their twin cousins, became engaged in an argument, so I sat them down at the breakfast table and placed a paper plate down along with a tube of toothpaste. "Squeeze all of the toothpaste out onto the paper plate." They looked at me, their eyes questioning whether I really meant it or not. "Go ahead. All of it." They enthusiastically dove in, delightfully spreading the gooey toothpaste all over the plate. After they squeezed every last bit out, I pointed to the plate and said, "Now, put the toothpaste back into the tube."
Five pairs of round little eyes looked at me as if I'd asked them to fly to the moon. "There's no way!"
"Exactly. And that's the way harsh words are, guys. Once you've said ugly things to someone, there's no taking them back. So think about what you say."
In the marriage relationship familiarity and stress almost breeds permission to speak unthinkable things to each other. I'm not talking about being transparent here. Certainly we are to be free to express our most intimate thoughts, fears and dreams to our mates. But I'm speaking of spewing angry, harsh insults at each other in the heat of arguments. Or continual put-downs under the guise of humor or otherwise.
I was speaking to a single mom recently divorced from an abusive marriage who told me that she could have taken all the other mistreatment, but it was the daily verbal abuse that finally drove her to divorce. Words have incredible power.
We are called to render a blessing, not an insult (I Peter 2:21-25). A soft answer turns away wrath. (Pro. 15:1). A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver (Pro. 25:11). The Bible has much to say about our words. Let us speak words of life and not death to our mates and our children.