Slow to Speak

I told my wife Ramona of a study that claims men use about half as many words as women do. She thought about this and said, “That’s because we have to repeat everything.” “What was that?” I asked.

We laughed. That laugh has been a lifesaver. Early on, I was critical, demanding, and verbose. I make a living with words. I often use three times as many as my wife. In fact, she’s quiet, more comfortable shining a spotlight than standing in one.

Our psychologist friend Kevin Leman once dragged Ramona and me onto a stage to ask about our marriage, and she froze, horrified. I, on the other hand, was in my element. With Kevin talking about birth order, I confessed that we were both the youngest in our families, which, according to psychologists, isn’t a great match. “The babies have trouble making decisions,” he said.

I looked at my wife and said, “I don’t know if that’s true. I’ll have to think about it.”

Kevin laughed.

“Years ago I was indecisive,” I said, “but now I’m not so sure.”

The audience laughed.

A few days later, Ramona and I were disagreeing and I was boldly proclaiming the merits of my point of view. Often the one with the weakest argument talks the loudest. Ramona was silent. And then, out of nowhere, the most gentle soul I’ve ever known, punched me on the shoulder. This was no gentle love tap; this was a direct hit containing the force of the words she wished she could use. I deserved every ounce of it. And, mercifully, I was speechless.

“You can argue your way out of anything,” she said, “I don’t care if you’re right… your words hurt.” If that isn’t a turning point in a guy’s marriage, there’s no hope for the guy. I hung my head and said the magic words. “I’m sorry. I was wrong.”

In Proverbs 29:20, wise king Solomon writes, “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

Thank God for the grace he’s shown me.

Thank you for a grace-full wife, too.

May we all learn to consider things from another’s point of view. May we be quick to listen, and slow to speak. After all, 87 percent of the time, the best way to save face, is to keep the bottom half of it shut.

Phil Callaway

Phil Callaway, the host of Laugh Again, is an award-winning author and speaker, known worldwide for his humorous yet perceptive look at life.

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