Have you ever, in the heat of the moment, said something that you later regretted?
Chelsea and I got married twelve years ago. A few months prior, we went through premarital counseling, which is supposed to prepare you for marriage. As if anything could prepare you for marriage.
By the way, my favorite question to ask engaged couples is “Are you ready to get married?” Typically, the guy opens his mouth and says, “Yeah!” And you know for sure he is most certainly not ready.
But in an attempt to be ready for marriage, Chelsea and I read a book called The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. It was very helpful.
Dr. Chapman says every person has one or more “love languages.” We show our love for others using these languages, and we also feel loved when other people use the language we prefer. The five are: acts of service, words of affirmation, gifts, physical touch, and quality time.
Everyone has a top love language, says this book, and then we have maybe a top three. My top three go like this: words of affirmation, touch, and then touch me again. I bet some men can relate.
Growing up, I was very influenced by my mom and my older sister. My mom’s top three love languages are acts of service, acts of service, and acts of service. No question. My sister is also very easy to figure out: it’s gifts, gifts, and gifts. Since these were the women I grew up around, I started to think, That’s what women like: acts of service and gifts.
The Five Love Languages also says, and it seems true to me, that we tend to dispense the kind of love we desire. So here I am in the first year or so of our marriage, just pouring on words of affirmation. And I’m trying to touch my wife, you know, and we’re playing tag. And I’m giving her gifts and I’m buying her things, and it doesn’t seem to be resonating.
One afternoon, things came to a head.
I came home, and I must have been playing golf or something. I’d had a good round, and I was thinking, This is going to be a great night. We’re going to make dinner, then we’re going to make something else, and it’s going to be a great night.
So I walk into the house and I immediately notice that Chelsea seems a bit distant, a bit put off. And finally, I start asking, “Babe, is anything wrong? What’s wrong?”
“No, nothing’s wrong. Nothing.”
Now, when a woman says nothing is wrong, it means everything is wrong, but she just doesn’t know where to start. I’ve found that out the hard way, so trust me.
“Nothing.” Yeah, right.
So I keep pressing. “No, babe—honestly, what’s wrong?”
Things start to escalate. She’s so emotional. I’m reasonably stable, you know, but she just loses her emotions. Okay, maybe it’s the other way around.
I keep prying. My voice might have entered another octave. “I mean, come on. What did I do? What did I do?”
“It’s not what you did.”
Now I’m like, What? So it’s who I am? And I’m so confused. It’s like she’s giving me signals, and I’m not figuring them out. I’m getting more and more frustrated, until finally she just spells it out for me, because I’m a guy and I need that.
“I just, I just feel like we don’t get enough time together.”
“What do you mean? We’re together right now. We sleep together. We live together. We eat together. I mean, what more do you want?”
“We don’t get enough real time together.”
That’s when, in the heat of the moment, it came out. I don’t know if I meant to say it, but it just slipped out.
Fast-forward for a minute. Recently, I was preparing a message and I told Chelsea, “I need an illustration of when I said something in the heat of the moment that I regretted.”
Without hesitation, she goes, “Oh, I know! I know just the one. Why don’t you tell the church about that time twelve years ago, when we were in the living room of our house, and you said, ‘Why can’t you have any other love language than quality time?’ Tell them that.”
“My God, woman, get healing! You need counseling. That was twelve years ago. I’m a better man.”
Which means, “I don’t say things like that anymore. I just think them.”
Back to our newlywed experience. “We don’t get enough real time together,” my bride says.
“Really?” I’m exasperated by now. I mean, my emotions are at a high. “Really? Can’t you have any other love language than quality time? Be like my sister—you give her a gift, and you don’t have to spend time with her for three months. How awesome is that?”
It didn’t go over very well. I’m still paying for that one.
Maybe you’ve done it too. You’re in the heat of the moment, and you don’t mean to, but something wells up inside, and you blurt it out. The Bible says that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Sigmund Freud said the same thing, but he used bigger words, and now we call it a Freudian slip.
When you’re in the heat of the moment, typically what you really believe comes out. What you really want to say slips out, and you can’t get it back. It can be painful or embarrassing, but it can also be revealing.
Excerpted from the book Jesus Is ___.: Find a New Way to Be Human © 2013 by Judah Smith (Thomas Nelson, Inc.) Used by permission.
Discover more about Judah’s book Jesus Is ___.: Find a New Way to Be Human here.
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Judah Smith and his wife, Chelsea, are the lead pastors of The City Church in Seattle, Washington. They were youth ministry pastors for ten years—ranked as one of the top five “most dynamic” youth groups in the country by Ministry Today—before stepping into their new role in 2009. Outreach has recognized City Church as being one of the fastest growing churches in the country. It has four satellite locations orbiting the Seattle, WA metropolitan area. Judah is in high demand as speaker, both in the U.S. and abroad, is the author of several books including Jesus Is ___., and is a popular voice on Twitter (@judahsmith). Judah and Chelsea have three children: Zion, Eliott, and Grace.