Honouring Words

— by Rachel Mills

‘To honour’ is a common part of many wedding vows, and carries with it a promise to show respect and value in words and deeds towards each other – both privately and publicly. Part of Kiwi culture is to make light of deep emotions or painful realities, but this type of joking can be hurtful to those closest to us if we’re not careful to keep ‘honouring’ a guiding principle.

A rule we follow in our marriage is that any joke about each other needs to be funny to the person it’s about. Topics that are sore spots are not up for sport, we don’t fight in public and we try to speak well of each other both in and out of the home.

This doesn’t mean concealing struggles from close friends and family – others can give valuable insight into our marriages, and the wisdom of living in community with trusted people shouldn’t be underestimated. However in the middle of our honesty we don’t set the other up as a fall guy. My husband and I are a team, and when one of us hurts both of us do. So it makes sense to build each other up rather than tearing each other down.

Honouring each other in this way grows trust and makes marriages stronger – there’s nothing like knowing your spouse has your back even when you’re not being particularly likeable or reasonable. Even better, we have the chance to reflect our beautiful God when grace and love are poured into weaknesses, instead of judgements and jokes.

So my challenge to all of us this week is this: open up a conversation about how best to honour each other. Ask the tough questions – is there anything I do or say that makes you feel shame? How would you like me to talk about you in public? How do we honour each other when we’re fighting? What topics are off-limits to jokes? The answers may surprise you, but listening with an open heart and taking on board feedback will go a long way towards creating a truly honouring marriage.