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My friend and her husband have been married less than a year. Recently they’ve had some of their worst spats via text message. Hearing it is almost laughable, if it weren’t so nasty. Needless to say, they haven’t read Love and Respect or any marriage books.
How do you encourage couples who may be starting out on the wrong foot without sounding preachy?
“Bill, Nancy… I’m concerned. Lately I have been going through your phones when you were in the bathroom and I haven’t seen any LOLs or smiley faces. What’s going on? Here is a book by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs: The Texting Language of Love and Respect. Please read it.”
So that’s one option. Here’s another…
If she is the one showing you the text messages, then it sounds as if she’s looking for feedback or advice. She is also probably looking for you to affirm that what her husband is saying is awful, therefore affirming her awful response. I would challenge her that “her response is her responsibility.”
I can’t tell you how many times I heard that from my parents growing up…
But before you challenge her, start by asking questions. If questions are asked out of genuine concern and not in an accusatory way, it should create a feeling of safety for your friend.
Questions like: How do fights via text conclude? Why are you showing me these texts? What happens when you address the issue face-to-face?
Over time, when trust is built, your friend may ask for your advice. I would share how reading the texts makes you feel. You may want to have some resources to point her toward as well.
My dad’s book The Language of Love and Respect talks a lot about how we communicate with one another. It may be helpful for you to read it so you can relay how you think your friends may be wounding each other and the heart of God when they speak to each other with such cutting words—or, shall I say, text each other with such cutting words.
Often people know what they are doing is wrong and hurtful to the other person, but they don’t know the deeper reason why they are doing it. Well, they may actually know why, but they aren’t consciously aware. By asking them questions, you may be able to help them name the root of their fears, which is most likely the reason they are speaki… err, texting each other this way.
And, speaking of fear, this verse is my prayer for you because it is the prayer I pray for myself in answering questions, speaking and challenging people.
1 Timothy 1:7 “…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power, love and self control.”
I believe this is the combination that equals wisdom. If fear is not from God, then we shouldn’t be scared of speaking the truth. If we have power, we know that we will be bold in what we say. If we have love, our friends will be assured of our motives. If we have self-control, we will know when to speak or what not to say.
The perfect combination!
It can be scary to confront a friend about her marriage, but be encouraged. You are a good friend, and your motivation is love and concern. I am praying that you are used to transform your friends’ lives. But remember, people have free will. Whether or not they respond to or receive what you say, you can rest knowing that your motive was to help and point them towards living life with a higher standard of…texting.
From my predictive text-loving heart,
P.S. Little known fact. I have never texted or tweeted LOL. Even typing it feels disloyal to my stance. If someone made me laugh out loud, I feel it necessary to let them know that in full text.
Ex. “I just laughed audibly. Thank you.”
P.S.S. When I started this whole Ask Joy thing, I didn’t realize how many people were going to ask me for advice on how to help their friends. While hearing about so many relationship problems, it’s refreshing to know that there are people out there who really want to help their friends. This is so encouraging to me. I love it–Thank you.
Love and Respect (Now) is a division of Love and Respect. Please be considerate.