I don’t know about you, but I HATE sarcasm.
Okay, okay, I know that there are times when it is funny, and even somewhat appropriate (like when my husband hikes his pants all the way up to his chest and runs around the house like that, and I say, “Oooh, that’s sexy!” …definite sarcasm there). Most times, however, sarcasm does not have happy results, even if the receiver does not “seem” hurt, offended, or angry.
Picture this: Your husband comes home from work a little late, and you make a sarcastic comment on his timing as he walks through the door. He flops on the couch, exhausted from work, as you finish making dinner. You observe him relaxing while you’re working hard to get dinner done and the table set. Insert sarcastic comment about how helpful he’s being. After dinner, he helps clear the table. Insert another sarcastic comment about how helpful he’s being, assuming he’s only helping because of your first comment. How do you think your husband is feeling at this point? Encouraged and uplifted? Or discouraged and defeated?
Does this seem like your home? Your relationship with your husband? You may think your comments are funny, and he may even laugh… but picture your sarcasm acting like a game of Jenga: the longer it goes on, the wobblier your marriage will be, until it (or your husband) collapses.
Ready for another word picture? Picture a sand castle being meticulously built on the beach next to the beautiful ocean. You can build it high, sculpt it perfectly, and decorate it beautifully… but gradually, as the tide comes in, the water will eat away the foundation of your castle, and it will crumble and fall. Your sarcasm acts like that water, eating away at your marriage until it destroys it.
Sarcasm is THAT dangerous.
Why? Because, all too often, truth is hidden in sarcastic barbs. If, deep down (or not so deep down even!), you think your husband is a loser, the things you sarcastically say will show your true feelings. Hurt by something your husband said to you? Sarcasm is often the retaliation. It seems “safer” than an all-out confrontation, but it is not! It can cause a deep wound to your husband, and over time that wound can either harden his heart toward you, cause a rift in your marriage that is difficult to mend, or fester and infect him with bitterness toward you.
Sarcasm demeans your husband, shows the lack of respect you have for him, and is the opposite of a submissive and gracious wife!
Perhaps sarcasm is part of “who you are,” part of your “sense of humor.” I’d like for you to evaluate why exactly you enjoy using sarcasm, and make sure that you are not hurting or demeaning others through your sarcasm. I decided long ago that sarcasm was unbecoming of a Godly (or striving to be Godly) woman, and a sarcastic woman was NOT what I wanted to be. I had to evaluate what I was saying, and how I was saying it.
Here are some questions to ask yourself the next time you feel a sarcastic comment coming on:
- Who will benefit from me saying this? Will it uplift and encourage anyone? Will it bring joy or laughter to someone else? (see #2 if this last answer is a “yes”)
- Will anyone be demeaned, offended, insulted, singled out, made to feel uncomfortable, or made fun of? Will the comment be at the expense of another person, even if they are not present in the room? (If yes, it’s not worth it to say it!!)
- What are my motives? Am I saying this to draw attention to myself, even if it’s to my own flaws? Am I trying to get someone to notice how much I’m doing, or how much they are NOT doing?
- What am I REALLY trying to say? Am I trying to get my hurt feelings assuaged or noticed? Am I trying to get help in a particular area?
- How will the recipient of my sarcasm receive it? Did you recently have a fight, and a sarcastic comment will be like throwing salt in an open wound? Has he had a bad day, and one negative comment from you will push him over the edge?
- IS IT NECESSARY? Sometimes, you won’t know the answer to the above questions. You might think everything is fine, throw out a few zingers, and it could be the worst thing you’ve ever done. You JUST DON’T ALWAYS KNOW. Therefore…. if your sarcasm is not necessary, just don’t say it!! You might not be known as the funniest girl at the party, but at least you won’t leave a trail of hurt feelings behind you.
- IS IT CHRIST-LIKE? Can you picture Jesus zinging one of His disciples with a sarcastic remark? Really think about WWJD - what would Jesus do? If you are striving to be a wife after God’s own heart, think about if sarcasm truly fits that mold.
Remember that one of our definitions of grace from my previous post, What Defines a Gracious Wife?, is a sense of propriety and consideration for others. That means being polite and considerate! Thinking of others’ feelings before you speak! Want to be gracious? Tone down the sarcasm!
Don’t just take my word for it…. look at what the Bible has to say about our words!
Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Your “harsh word” could be a thoughtless (or carefully aimed) sarcastic remark towards another person. Perhaps your husband, a friend, a co-worker? Instead of a fight, a gentle answer could offer a conversation starter.
There are a lot of verses in the book of Ephesians that I could mention, but I’ll just pick a few out of chapter 4:
Ephesians 4:2-3 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
It’s hard, but we are to be completely humble and gentle. Sarcasm is the opposite of gentle, that is for sure! Often, too, it is our pride that brings our sarcasm out - to “save face” or feel better about ourselves, we use sarcasm as a prideful defense. A Gracious Wife speaks with humility and gentleness to bring about peace and unity.
Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Like we asked ourselves in the above questions, will my sarcasm uplift or encourage anyone? God calls us to speak only words that will build up, not tear down; benefit, not hurt.
Perhaps you know that sarcasm is not the right weapon to use against your husband (or anyone else for that matter), but the habit is so deep you don’t know how to get out…. Well, our first plan of action should be to pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you overcome this habit. Then, hit the Word! In the Bible, God gives us a prescription to follow, and it can help control your tongue….
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Paul wrote these words in the context of trying to get two women to get along with each other (obviously the fight had to be pretty bad for him to have to address it in a letter to the church). Not thinking nice thoughts? Sarcasm getting ready to spew out of your mouth? Think about these things - anything that is excellent, anything that is worthy of praise. Think about the positives, and don’t dwell on the negative things that you see in your relationship.
Shall we strive to knock sarcasm out of our lives? Shall we strive to break that habit? Let’s strive to be Gracious Wives, who lift up and encourage our husbands, not tear them down with our sarcasm.
You can do it! (With the Holy Spirit’s help of course!!) Keep on Striving!
PS - Have you signed up for the 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge? It can also help you overcome your sarcasm because you’re not allowed to say negative things to or about your husband!
PPS - I’d love to hear your progress! If you are a part of the Encouragement Challenge, how is it going? Have you noticed any changes (in your marriage or your sarcasm)? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!