“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
Arrogance is a poisonous attitude. In the context of your marriage, it can be downright destructive. Arrogance assumes I have nothing to gain from listening to others. It assumes they are wrong before hearing what they have to say. More to the point, it assumes I’m right. Arrogance makes it impossible for me to learn from a conversation, which means the friendship won’t mature into the fullness of what it can be.
If arrogance is corrupting your relationships, what’s the solution? Humility. Humility assumes there’s something you don’t know and acknowledges that there’s always an opportunity to learn from everyone. When we’re humble, we can admit that only those who know us best can see the deepest truths about us.
Animosity means “strong hostility.” It may go without saying, but if you are harboring animosity your communication will be corrupt. This doesn’t mean you can never be angry. Anger is normal and even healthy in a relationship. However, animosity takes anger to the next level. Animosity moves you to keep a record of wrongs. It stews over the offenses and thinks about how to get even. Animosity may cause you to purposefully look for ways to hurt others verbally as a way of “winning.” Animosity causes you to see others as the enemy.
If animosity is the attitude in your communication, what’s the solution? Self-giving love. Wait—you can’t both love and hate someone, right? Those two feelings are mutually exclusive. Correct—but only if love were a feeling. However, I contend that it is not. Love is a choice to prioritize the good of another over your own. Love serves its enemy. So how do you cure your animosity? Begin practicing acts of self-giving love even when you don’t want to.
As bad as animosity is, apathy is worse. If you are apathetic, you just don’t care. Is my marriage falling apart? Oh well. Does this action drive a wedge between myself and others? What do I care? Apathy is almost impossible to shift because, by its very definition, it means you don’t care to change. You are completely unmotivated. And change is hard, so if you’re going to change, you must be motivated.
So what can you do if apathy is the attitude that is corrupting your communication? Confess it with a trusted friend. I know that sounds like the smallest step ever, but remember, if you’re apathetic, you don’t care. To confess at least puts it out into the world in a way that invites feedback from someone who cares for you, which gives you the opportunity to hear someone else’s perspective and consider that making a change might be worthwhile. In short, confession is a baby step toward change, and it has the power to subtly shift the inertia of apathy toward interest.
• Clay Gill is the Executive Director at Cord of Three. He is also a licensed professional counselor.