Nothing irritates others as quickly as being rude. Rudeness is unnecessarily saying or doing things that are unpleasant for another person to be around. To be rude is to act unbecoming, embarrassing, or irritating. In marriage, this could be a foul mouth, poor table manners, or a habit of making sarcastic quips. However you look at it, no one enjoys being around a rude person. Rude behavior may seem insignificant to the person doing it, but it’s unpleasant to those on the receiving end.
As always, love has something to say about this. When a man is driven by love, he intentionally behaves in a way that’s more pleasant for his wife to be around. If she desires to love him, she purposefully avoids things that frustrate him or cause him discomfort.
The bottom line is that genuine love minds its manners.
Embracing this one concept could add some fresh air to your marriage. Good manners express to your wife or husband, “I value you enough to exercise some self-control around you. I want to be a person who’s a pleasure to be with.” When you allow love to change your behavior—even in the smallest of ways—you restore an atmosphere of honor to your relationship. People who practice good etiquette tend to raise the respect level of the environment around them.
For the most part, the etiquette you use at home is much different than the kind you employ with friends, or even with total strangers. You may be barking or pouting around the house, but if the front door chimes, you open it all smiling and kind. Yet if you dare to love, you’ll also want to give your best to your own. If you don’t let love motivate you to make needed changes in your behavior, the quality of your marriage relationship will suffer for it.
Women tend to be much better at certain types of manners than men, though they can be rude in other ways. King Solomon said, “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife” (Proverbs 25:24 niv). But men especially need to learn this important lesson. The Bible says, “It is well with the man who is gracious” (Psalm 112:5). A man of discretion will find out what is appropriate, then adjust his behavior accordingly.
There are two main reasons why people are rude: ignorance and selfishness. Neither, of course, is a good thing. A child is born ignorant of etiquette, needing lots of help and training. Adults, however, display their ignorance at another level. You know the rules, but you can be blind to how you break them or be too self-centered to care. In fact, you may not realize how unpleasant you can be to live with.
Test yourself with these questions:
• How does your spouse feel about the way you speak and act around them?
• How does your behavior affect your mate’s sense of worth and self-esteem?
• Would your husband or wife say you’re a blessing, or that you’re condescending and embarrassing?
If you’re thinking that your spouse—not you—is the one who needs work in this area, you’re likely suffering from a bad case of ignorance, with a secondary condition of selfishness. Remember, love is not rude but lifts you to a higher standard.
Do you wish your spouse would quit doing the things that bother you? Then it’s time to stop doing the things that bother them. Will you be thoughtful and loving enough to discover and avoid the behavior that causes life to be unpleasant for your mate? Will you dare to be delightful?
Here are three guiding principles when it comes to practicing etiquette in your marriage:
- Guard the Golden Rule. Treat your mate the same way you want to be treated (see Luke 6:31).
No double standards. Be as considerate to your spouse as you are to strangers and coworkers.
Honor requests. Consider what your husband or wife already asked you to do or not do. If in doubt, then ask.
He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, it will be reckoned a curse to him.
Ask your spouse to tell you three things that cause him or her to be uncomfortable or irritated with you. You must do so without attacking them or justifying your behavior. This is from their perspective only.