Louder Than Words

When actions speak louder than words

The Christian Marriage Bloggers Association has a blog challenge this month, asking us to post each week about wisdom or encouragement about marriage from various sources.

This week, we’re asked to write about words of wisdom and encouragement from family.

And I am completely stuck.

I remember no words at all about marriage—not from my parents, grandparents, in-laws, or other relatives. I learned lots of lessons about gender roles (not particularly CMBA_challenge_14good lessons, either), but I remember no words about marriage, encouraging, wise, or otherwise.

The lessons I did learn about marriage were through actions rather than words.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words . . .

One thing has come to mind, and while it isn’t specifically about marriage, it is something that proved to be a huge encouragement to me as I worked on making changes in myself for the sake of our marriage.

I remember my father as a very angry man when I was young. I don’t remember ever being hit, but I remember a lot of yelling, with me feeling afraid and distressed quite frequently

When I was around ten years old, though, I noticed that he was no longer like that. My dad had been angry, and then he wasn’t. Even now, forty years later, he isn’t like he once was.

He changed.

Throughout my life, I have frequently heard people say, “People never change.” I knew better, because I had seen it happen in my own family.

I have no idea how this change happened in my father, but it became part of how I viewed the world. I was witness to growth.

People can change.

When I faced the knowledge about how I had been hurting my husband in my lack of sexual connection with him, I had absolutely no idea what to do or how to do it. What I did know, however, was that it was possible to change.

As I began my journey of change, I clung to that knowledge time and time again: Change is possible. My dad did it, and now I’ve done it, too.

 . . . But Words Still Matter

Actions may sometimes speak louder than words, but I find myself surprised that there were no words at all about marriage—at least not any that were memorable.

It makes me wonder what words of wisdom and encouragement my husband and I are passing on to our kids (all young adults who are single).

They have all noticed that Big Guy and I are happier. They know that we have a sexual relationship. They see us respond to each other in difficult situations. They hear us apologize to each other. They see us hold hands, kiss, and snuggle.

Our actions do matter, but as I’ve been thinking about this post off and on over the past month, I’ve been paying attention to the words our kids hear from us about marriage.

I am thankful and relieved that I have observed that we do speak about marriage. We’ve had quite a few opportunities, as one of our sons has been going through a relationship break-up.

Here are some of the things we’ve said:

  • Marriage can bring out the worst and the best in people. Before you marry, think carefully about whether your best is enough to deal with the other person’s worst.
  • Feelings are important, but her feelings shouldn’t drive your decisions.
  • Your needs are not more important than your spouse’s, and your spouse’s needs are not more important than yours.
  • Once you have sex, you are part of each other permanently. It’s one of the reasons it is best to save sex for marriage.
  • One of our biggest relationship regrets is not waiting until we were married to have sex with each other.
  • Love is a decision, not a feeling.

The actions we show in our marriage say these same things to our kids, but I’m glad we use the words, too.

What wisdom and encouragement do you pass on to others about marriage, in deed and in word?


Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

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11 Comments on “Louder Than Words”

  1. Our teens have watched us lead the couples ministry at our church, meeting with couples in crisis and encouraging marriages before crisis hits. I would say that they have a positive idea of marriage, but not a lot of specific information about it. Looks like we are counting on actions speaking louder than words!

  2. Hey Chris –

    I love that you are being intentional with the messages you are passing along to your son. We have a 9 year old, and are beginning to navigate and think about how to best express these type of messages, other than just modeling them 🙂

    1. Ah, the age of 9, right before all the hormones get interesting 🙂

      Throughout our kids’ teen years, we were not sending good messages about marriage through word or deed. I’m so thankful that we changed that while they were still living at home and could see growth in action as well as hear what we have to say to them.

  3. Best twin advice I ever got from my “Christian parents” who were sent to me by God to learn how to be married: 1) you do not have to attend every argument party you are invited to and 2) you do not have to be wrong to say you are sorry.

  4. Overall a great post, but I strongly disagree with “Once you have sex, you are part of each other permanently.” My wife and I were not raised as Christians, and there was sexual sin before salvation. We had not met at that time. Upon salvation, each of us received forgiveness. When we married, we didn’t experience issues related to being “part of” a previous sexual partner. That implies that we don’t have our entire selves to offer to our spouse, and that isn’t us. Sex has been an important, enjoyable and fulfilling part of our marriage – for 37 years. There is entirely too much guilt and shame among Christians for past sins that have been forgiven.

    1. That’s a good point and one I will think about. My premarital sexual partners are still part of me–a small part, but still a part of me. I don’t see that as needing to evoke feelings of guilt or shame.

  5. Great post, Chris, and one I find that resonates with my own experiences growing up. I guess our parent’s generation didn’t talk a lot about practical help when it came to marriage. My parents never, ever kissed in front of us. In fact, it wasn’t until their 25th wedding anniversary party that I asked them to kiss for a picture. My Mom was obviously uncomfortable with the focus, but I’m grateful I asked. Tom and I have made sure we talk to our grown children about marriage – two are happily married and one more is still at home.
    God help us to elevate the importance of talking about marriage.

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