I have a problem that affects my wife. She is a good wife, but sometimes I talk back and sometimes I don’t want to talk at all. Last week I disrespected her in front of her parents, and she got very angry. I have asked for forgiveness, but she says that she can’t take any more.

I want to change, but it’s difficult for me in this area. I’m afraid I’ll lose her and mess up our six-year-old son’s life. I don’t know what to do.

Dear Friend,

You have taken the first step of admitting your responsibility for the unkind and disrespectful way that you treat your wife. You realize that your relationship is in danger and that you must be willing to take action to save your marriage.

The best thing that you can do is to actually “work” on your marriage. Going to marital counseling would give you both a safe place in which to work out your differences. However, it sounds like the biggest enemy of your marriage is your tongue.

King Solomon, often called one of the wisest men who ever lived, wrote, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”(1) It sounds like you would agree that your words have been reckless, since they have been spoken in spite of the almost certain hurt that they always bring, and in spite of the almost certain negative consequences to your marriage. Your words have pierced your wife like a sword, but instead of helping her to heal, you have left gaping wounds that get injured again every time you speak so recklessly.

King Solomon says that healing comes on the tongue of the wise. You obviously have not been wise. What is wisdom? It is not the same as intelligence. Nor is it the same as knowledge. It is, rather, the ability to weigh your words and actions before saying or doing something. Furthermore, it requires controlling your emotions and your temper.

Changing your behavior and your words is not easy. It is much easier to live in a foolish and reckless way. You need the strength and wisdom that God can give. Ask Him to forgive you for your unkindness, your foolishness, and your recklessness. Tell Him you need His divine help every day to weigh your words and control your emotions and temper.

God will help you, but He will not change you instantaneously. You have to do the work. Read the book of Proverbs every day and pray that God will make you wise. Practice in your head the way you will respond in situations where you will be angry or frustrated. Ask your wife to help you practice appropriate and wise responses. Put some time and effort into changing. When your wife sees that you are serious about changing, it will go much further than when you just say you are sorry.

We wish you well,

1 Pr 12:18