I saw this meme on a friend’s page on Facebook the other day and it made me laugh. I read it out loud to husband who also chuckled. I am not sure if it was sincere or obligatory in an attempt to ward off my using one of the words against him.
I know I have said these words in exactly that way and I bet many of you have as well. Whether you are male or female, I am sure you relate to this “secret” language that we are making light of here.
I started to share the post to have a laugh over it with friends but was stopped short. A sense of deep sadness swept over me as the truth about using this “secret” language or “code words” took hold.
We speak these code words, sometimes flippantly, in frustration, or maybe even in exasperation, expecting our spouses to understand. We may even use these code words on our children, friends, or coworkers.
We are expecting the recipient to be an interpreter who magically possesses the secret decoder ring to help them figure out the hidden message. Why? It is probably slightly different for all of us but here are some of my thoughts.
- We are too tired to engage in conflict.
- We avoid conflict.
- We don’t know how to manage healthy conflict.
- We are afraid of being mocked, put down, being labeled as disagreeable or being viewed as unlovable.
In these moments we have journeyed down a path that takes us far away from truth, that is dishonoring to the “decoder” and allows for frustration and anger to seep in, which often leads to resentment and tears down relationships.
In Ephesians 4, the Apostle Paul gives a very straightforward warning about engaging in this practice. “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor (spouse, child, friend, coworker), for we are all members of one body. ‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
Let’s face it, relationships are hard enough without us sabotaging them by speaking a different language that requires interpretation and we certainly don’t need to aid the enemy in wreaking havoc to boot.
Now there may be some of you who think I have taken this whole thing too far and that it was meant to be a joke. I love a good joke, but this in fact was making fun of reality for many of us. I would put forth that when we put this joke into practice, using these words, saying one thing but expecting an understanding of something else, then we are not being honest with ourselves or the decoder and there is no humor in deception.
I want to be a woman who walks in and speaks truth. Where is the truth in “secret” or “code”? I am prayerfully making a commitment to amend my thinking and my language as follows:
- I will stop the unrealistic expectation that my listener must possess the ability to read my mind and magically understand that the words I say actually mean something else entirely, some of the time.
- I will stop using words that do not represent my beliefs or feelings.
- I will stop being sarcastic, speaking in escalated and hostile tones.
- I will take ownership of my beliefs and feelings and speak them lovingly.
- I will make efforts to set discussions up for success by practicing good conflict resolution techniques.
- Should I fail at the above, I will take a step back and reassess where I strayed, make amends and start over.
- Should I fail at that, I will seek help from a mentor, pastor, or counselor.
Who will join me?
Heavenly Father, help us to be women of truth, to be able to love in the unlovable moments, to have a harness on our minds and tongues, and to exercise grace and humility. Please help the decoders in our lives to be grace-filled and blessed as you continue to sharpen us while we work out our salvation in you. Amen