A patient person [shows] great understanding, but a quick-tempered one promotes foolishness. – Proverbs 14:29 HCSB

One of the greatest gifts we can give is an honest answer.[1] Though it may take a while to be truly appreciated, any wise person will value honesty over flattery.[2] Being dishonest with our spouse is as harmful as physical abuse[3] and in the end, will only cause trouble.[4] El Emet[5] expects and deserves truthful followers[6], so we need to strive for honesty and openness with each other[7], especially about our motives.[8]

However, honesty must be balanced with grace.[9] It is tempting to launch into a tirade listing all the other person’s faults when we are angered. Yet, we need to resist this urge, if for no other reason than the shame of being quick-tempered.[10] We need to keep in mind that every time we demonstrate patience under pressure, we build not only our character,[11] but our esteem in the other person’s eyes.[12]

The natural human tendency is to fight fire with fire, but Spirit-empowered Christians know that the only way to quench the flames of strife is through gentle patience.[13] It’s a lot easier to nip the argument in the bud than to stop it once it gains momentum.[14]

The conversation of Christian spouses should be characterized by sacrificial love[15] and a quiet spirit[16] that borders on reticence to speak.[17] If our spouses lose their tempers, we should walk away until they can calm down.[18]

We are allowed to be angered by sin[19] or frustrated by miscommunication, but we must never allow our emotions to drive us into sin[20] or base, corrupt speech.[21] After all, there will some day be an accounting for every word that comes out of our mouth.[22] We should never allow a mocking spirit to cause us to belittle our spouse[23] and it goes without saying that gossiping about our marital troubles will only make things worse![24]

Instead, we should practice active listening,[25] motivated by a humble spirit that is constantly asking, “Lord, have I done wrong?”[26]

Loving consideration for our spouse should be our priority,[27] being careful about prejudging or jumping to conclusions,[28] giving them the benefit of the doubt[29] and resisting the impulse to bring up past wrongs.[30] We should be concerned for our spouse and seek to discover what is causing their frustration.[31]

We must think carefully before speaking,[32] taking long pauses for silent prayer if necessary;[33] not only to avoid saying something stupid[34] but in order to say the most helpful, healing thing possible.[35] This habit can actually bring a lot of personal satisfaction.[36]

Finally, we should be trying to live blameless lives that do not cause irritation[37] but instead are a source of strength and refreshment to our spouse.[38] We should not merely promise change but actually come through with action.[39]

I know this advice is impossible for a mere human to follow[40] – but with God’s power anything is possible.[41]


[1] Proverbs 24:26; 1 Corinthians 13:6

[2] Proverbs 12:19; 28:23

[3] Proverbs 25:18

[4] Proverbs 11:1; 12:13-14; 20:17; 21:6

[5] Psalm 31:5

[6] Psalm 51:6; Proverbs 20:23

[7] 2 Corinthians 8:21; 1 Thessalonians 2:3

[8] Proverbs 10:6,11, 18-20; 26:24-26

[9] Proverbs 10:13,31-32; 12:6; John 1:14; Colossians 4:6

[10] Proverbs 12:16; 14:29; 19:11; 19:19; 20:3; 29:11

[11] James 1:2-4

[12] Proverbs 17:28; 19:11; 20:3

[13] Proverbs 13:3; 15:1,18; 16:32; 25:15

[14] Proverbs 17:14

[15] 1 Corinthians 13:4-5; Ephesians 5:25; 1 Peter 3:7

[16] Proverbs 29:11

[17] Proverbs 17:27; 18:21; 21:23; Ecclesiastes 5:2

[18] Proverbs 22:24-25

[19] 1 Kings 11:9; 2 Kings 17:18; Psalm 7:11; Proverbs 31:8-9; Mark 3:5

[20] 1 Corinthians 13:5; Ephesians 4:26; 5:8-11

[21] Proverbs 4:24; 7:13; 11:9; Ephesians 4:29; 5:4; Colossians 3:8; 4:6

[22] Matthew 12:34

[23] Proverbs 11:12; 12:18; 15:4

[24] Proverbs 11:13; 16:28; 17:9; 20:19; 25:23

[25] 1 Samuel 25:17; Proverbs 18:2; 21:28; Ecclesiastes 5:1-2; James 1:19

[26] Psalm 139:24

[27] Proverbs 21:3; John 15:12

[28] Proverbs 14:15; Matthew 7:1-5

[29] 1 Corinthians 13:7

[30] Proverbs 16:27; Matthew 18:21-22; 1 Corinthians 13:5

[31] Proverbs 12:25

[32] Proverbs 15:28; 29:20

[33] Proverbs 12:13; 16:1

[34] Proverbs 14:3

[35] Proverbs 16:23-24; 18:4,20; 22:17-18

[36] Proverbs 12:14; 13:2; 15:23; 25:11

[37] Proverbs 12:14

[38] Proverbs 31:12,28-29

[39] Proverbs 14:23

[40] John 15:4-5

[41] Matthew 19:26; Luke 18:27