I’ve met both extremes.
I had a friend in bible college who, at parties, we’d make sit at a keyboard while we sing random notes. Almost instantaneously, she’d play the exact note. No mistakes. She can pick out any tones, notes, and/or pitches and play or sing them. She’s very talented musically.
I have another friend who’s not so talented in this area. He has amazing gifts and abilities. He loves Christ with all of his heart and that’s what matters. But he is the polar opposite of friend #1. He loves to sing. But he’s what you call “tone-deaf.” I can’t harp on him too much. I love to sing in the shower. And there’s been more than one occasion where I’ve had a knock on the bathroom door asking me, more like pleading with me, to stop.
As a trumpet player, I know the necessity for being able to hear tones to be able to know if something is sharp or flat, harmonious or obtrusive, perfectly balanced or completely off (Luckily, the trumpet makes up for my lack of voice…well, sort of).
My friends at “Marriage Works” (twitter: @mrgwrks) shared a great TRUTH:
The timing & tone of your words have a significant impact on whether your mate receives or rejects them. Speak wisely!
This is what helps uncover the problem. It’s a condition called “The Tone-Deaf Marriage.”
1 – Tone usage. Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” On of my favorite instruments to listen to is also one of my most hated instruments to listen to. It’s the oboe. Why both extremes? Played with proper tone, blended with the entire orchestra, can sooth the soul. Played harshly and abruptly, can be painful and abusive (take it from the guy that sat two seats over from the novice oboe player).
Your tone can change the entire context of the conversation. You may think you are not being harsh. Look around the room as you talk. Watch your spouse’s face when you speak to him/her. Their perspective is their reality. Stop being stubborn about how you think you sound. It could be that you are “tone-deaf” to your own voice. It could be that you are so caught up with how you think you sound that you’ve never humbled yourself to admit you’re wrong. And the result: you “make tempers flare.”
2 – Timing. Proverbs 25:11 says “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” In an orchestration, everything it timed out. The tempo, taken wrongly, can destroy a musical piece. A prime example is from the movie, “That Thing You Do.” Guy Patterson takes the initiative, during their first performance, to up-tempo the ballad, and transform the song. I’ve seen it happen to worship songs. Some songs seem to be more powerful at specific tempos and don’t belong at other speeds.
You’re timing with your words is critical. I think of just a few weeks ago, when something that Anne and I have joked about before, ended up hurting her instead of making her laugh. Comedy is all about timing and I screwed up. It was a quick reminder about how our words are used. When the timing has been thought through, scripture says, it’s received like “apples of gold in a silver setting.” It means the words are presented well and have been sweet to receive.
Do you want your words to be presented in a way that they are heard and sweetly received? Watch your timing. If you have no idea what I am talking about, it could be you are “tone-deaf.” Ask your spouse about your timing. If you’re afraid to ask, you may already know the answer.
3 – Mannerisms. Colossians 4:5 “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.” That refers to our manner of life, our behavior, our actions. But in the very next verse he talks about words: “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.”
I know that this verse in Colossians is speaking in context about how Christ-followers act towards those who don’t have a relationship with Christ. But I cannot help but think that those heading these instructions were living this at home before they were expected to live it outside. I can see Paul, the writer of Colossians, saying, you’ve learned this at home and in church, it’s time to live it the say way out in the world.
We cannot separate our words from our actions. They must be consistent with each other. “Tone-deaf” spouses don’t recognize this. They may say their listening, but their body language doesn’t tell that. You say you’ve forgiving, but your actions are still cold. Actions are everything. And for your actions in your marriage to be inconstant with your words to your spouse speaks of you being “tone-deaf.”
My challenge today comes from Proverbs 16:24, “Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Have a talk with your spouse about this issue of being “tone-deaf.” Better yet, get a baby sitter and go out on a date and have a conversation. Speak truth in love and kindness. Show humility and teachability. The promise of scripture: the words you give and/or receive will be “like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
Thanks for letting me ramble…