There are all sorts of big and small ways to show love to your spouse. One of the easiest, but powerful ways to demonstrate this is to talk about them positively in public. This one reason I am so grateful for Angela. She has to live with my sinful tendencies, my human weaknesses, and my annoying quirks. There is a lot of material from which she could easily draw when talking with her girlfriends or other friends. And yet Angela has always talked well about me in public. It’s a small thing, but it’s a big thing to me. If she has a problem with me, she tells me. But never does she send a message through passive-aggressive shots delivered while in public. I appreciate and love her for that and I try very hard to return the favor.
I’m amazed at how often I hear good, faithful Christian couples undermine each other in public. I hear wives degrade their husband’s character and worth, sometimes in the church parking lot. I cringe every time I hear this because in my mind I can see the strength and confidence of the husband shrink. I also hear husbands rail on their wives in a sort of “can you believe what my wife just did?” kind of manner that tells me how much they really value the wive God has given them.
Angela and I are far from perfect. We have many flaws. But I’m grateful we’ve made this small commitment to each other. It’s hard for two people to walk together in mutual love if one or the other feels degraded. It’s crippling to the kind of long-lasting marital love that reflects the love Christ has for His Church.
In fact, I would bet there is more value to not saying negative things about a spouse than the kind of over-the-top flattery we sometimes display in order to have others commend us. If my wife never said I was “the best husband alive” on Facebook, but committed to not criticizing me in public, I’d be a happy man. And I”m guessing she’d say the same about me. Not tearing her down in public is better than a thousand “smoking hot wife” references on Twitter.
The reason this matters, I think, is because we often reveal our true selves when we’re trying to posture ourselves in front of other people, in a crowd. We reveal our true motivations. And for the other person to observe us sort of using them as fodder for a well-timed quip or cutting remark–this hurts more than we might realize.