Tones of Respect

It’s a common mistake for marriage partners to become lax in their tones of respect as familiarity sets in. Too often requests become demands, and sweet tones become sour. What happened to frequent use of “please” and “thank-you”? I agree that, “language appropriate to the stewardship of a spouse is the language of request. It is the use of words—‘if,’ ‘would,’ ‘could,’ ‘will,’ or ‘can.’ It is the language of equals. How a husband speaks to his wife and how a wife speaks to her husband reveals their true perception of their relationship” (Dr. John Lewis Lund). Here’s a little experiment. Say the words, “What can I do?” placing emphasis on a different word each time. Tone alone can completely change meaning. George Eliot described the importance of tone in this excerpt from her classic book, Middlemarch. “That little speech of four words [What can I do?]…is capable by varied vocal inflexions of expressing all stages of mind from helpless dimness to exhaustive, argumentative perception, from the completest self-devoting fellowship to the most neutral aloofness.” Isn’t that true? Familiarity should never diminish the language of respect to a spouse; rather, familiarity should increase respect in all communication and behavior.

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