Loving Your Husband: Tone of Voice
I have come to believe through both personal experience and observant listening that our tone of voice is the primary way we communicate either love or displeasure. It's not so much the words we use as the manner in which we say them that communicates. The same words can convey loving, gentle questioning or selfish, irritable disdain. Through our tone of voice, we confer dignity and respect upon others or we heap criticism and doubtful disrespect.
As wives, God has called us to respect our husbands. I am well aware, having talked with many women, that our husbands sometimes do things that don't always command or engender respect. However, that does not absolve us of our responsibility to respect them as God has commanded—not suggested—us to do. Showing respect to our husbands is a matter of obedience to God. It is a sacred picture of the Church's attitude to Christ, our Savior and Lord.
Ask yourself this question: Does the way I speak to my husband (even when you're having a disagreement) uphold the spiritual metaphor of how the Church should respond to Christ? I know, your husband is not perfect like Christ and has not shown you the same degree of self-sacrificing love. But just because your husband may have broken the picture, whether in small or overwhelmingly great ways, doesn't mean that you are free to break your side of the picture. As we wives uphold our side of the picture, it can go a long way toward helping them uphold theirs, as I Peter 3:1-2 suggests. ["Accompanied by fear" at the end of verse 2 can be translated, "accompanied by deep respect." The word translated "respect" in Ephesians 5:33: "Let the wife see that she respects her husband" is the same word as "fear" in I Peter 3:2.] In the same way, as they strive to uphold their side of the picture, it helps us tremendously in upholding our side, making it much easier.
Sometimes our familiarity with our husbands, our knowledge of their faults, our hurts from living in such close proximity with another sinner can cause us to let our own guard start to slip. It's easy then to begin to speak to our husbands in ways we wouldn't ever talk to anyone else. And this can ingrain itself into a habit, a bad one that we become oblivious to. We don't even hear ourselves—though others around us may hear and wince.
The manner in which you bring up a problem, the tone of voice you use to discuss some irritant, can either open up or shut down your husband. What is communicated through your tone will transmit loving respect or contempt. Even if irritation is rising within you, kicking up a hurricane of turmoil, remember your real desire for closeness, which can only be had by subduing the brewing internal storm and choosing to show the necessary respect undergirded by grace.
Ask God to help you hear yourself, to hear the tone in which you speak to your husband. Then ask yourself, How would I feel if someone spoke to me like that? Would I like it? Would it draw me to them? Would it cultivate love and trust and a desire for closeness?
Speak quietly. Speak gently. Speak kindly. Speak graciously, remembering your own faults that so often require your husband's grace. Choose a tone that reflects the respect your heart desires to have—and that you would want shown to you.