Recently I've become frustrated with Berenstain Bear books for this very reason. I remember them fondly from childhood and tend to consider them wholesome children's literature... but has anyone else noticed the tendency of Papa Bear to act just like one of the cubs, while Mama Bear reigns as the far wiser head of the family?
One of our biggest opportunities as wives to meet our husbands need for respect is in the way we talk about him when he isn't around. How we speak about their dad in front of our kids is a crucial opportunity to inspire their own respect, or conversely, lack of respect, for their father. Our words about the man in our life truly matter.
To counter my own tendency towards sinful husband bashing, I try to pass my words through this filter:
Would I be saying what I'm saying the way I'm saying it if my husband could hear me? This should be an obvious one, but if you wouldn't say it within your husband's ear shot, saying it when he can't hear is an act of disloyalty.
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18How would I feel if my husband was talking about me to his friends in this way? I would be mortified if my husband aired all of my dirty laundry, big or small, when hanging out with the guys. If I'm treating him the way I want to be treated, I need to not complain if he doesn't help enough with the kids, is a terrible listener, or always leaves his socks on the floor, etc.
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Luke 6:31Do these words have the potential to embarrass or hurt my husband? How will my words make my husband feel? Do they cause his cheeks to burn, his stomach to boil, or his anger to rise? While I can't control or necessarily predict how he would respond to them, a discerning spirit can usually tell if their words are helpful or hurtful.
She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. Proverbs 31:12What opinion of my husband am I causing my listeners to form? This is a big one. Think about how your words will be received. We've all experienced it; listening to someone gossip about another person, our opinions of that person are colored and formed in a negative direction. Are your friends leaving your company thinking of your husband as a bumbling idiot or a tyrannical brute? Or do they have reason to admire and respect him?
With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor, but by knowledge the righteous are delivered. Proverbs 11:9Do my words help the situation in any way? Is venting about my husband really going to make me feel any better? Will this conversation cause personal and relational growth? Or is it just making me and my hearers feel worse?
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29Am I encouraging my listener to love her husband, or am I promoting a bitter or complaining spirit? The thing about husband bashing is that it can be rather contagious. Even if I don't voice those frustrations, hearing other marital complaints can make me look with more dissatisfaction on my own marriage and home life. I want to build up other women with my speech, not pull them down.
The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. Psalm 37:30Of course these filters could apply to anyone we speak about. Even and especially our children- if I'm honest I tend to be way less respectful of my children's feelings when I talk about them with other moms. Purposing to honor others with the way we talk about them is one of the best ways we can actively love them.