As an introvert, I’m not much of a talker compared to a lot of people, and yet I still catch myself trying to make conversation when the situation calls for silence. I did it again last night at suppertime. My husband Kenny and I had a busy afternoon, so we picked up a pizza, went home, and sat on the porch to eat it. He was as silent as a tortoise, which is completely understandable since, in the course of a day, he’s often pulled in a hundred directions while having myriad conversations and making countless critical decisions.
But could I leave well enough alone and just enjoy the peace? No. Instead, I said, “A penny for your thoughts?” And a few minutes later, “Gosh, you’re quiet tonight.” Finally, I realized what I was doing. For Pete’s sake, stop it! I scolded myself.
Why are we so afraid of silence?
In spite of the stereotypes, men can be just as gabby as women, but right now I’m talking to wives/girlfriends because that’s the perspective I know. When we haven’t yet learned to appreciate silence, we women can get in the habit of (excuse the graphic illustration) “verbally puking” all over our men during those moments they need stillness. We fill the air with words—and far too often, those words are negative: “Karen is driving me nuts at work … Can you plleeaassee fix the brake light? … You’re going to have to punish Alex for talking back to me …”
I’m not saying that difficult subjects shouldn’t be broached, but there’s a time to do it, and when your spouse has that dazed, “my-brain-is-on-overload” look is not the time.
In 1 Peter 3:3–4, the apostle cautions women against putting too much emphasis on adornments like jewelry and fashion. He advises focusing on “the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” Peter then refers to the Old Testament heroines who exemplified this by “trust[ing] in God” and being “submissive to their … husbands” (v. 5).
These verses do not denote a mousey, faint-hearted woman who refuses to wear makeup, laugh enthusiastically, or express herself honestly. “A gentle and quiet spirit” indicates peace on the inside that’s reflected on the outside (versus shrieking on the inside while gritting your teeth on the outside). A gentle, quiet spirit is the product of unreserved trust in God and is therefore free of panic and agitation.
Notice that this quality is precious to God—after all, it’s impossible to possess deep peace without radical trust in Him—and that it produces incorruptible beauty. What woman doesn’t want to be beautiful to the man she loves? There’s something highly attractive about a woman who possesses inner peace—who does not have a meltdown when things don’t go her way, or blather on and on about everyone’s faults, or meet her man at the door with a list of demands when he’s already swamped with obligations.
Many times, when I sense that Kenny’s already got too much noise in his brain or too many responsibilities on his shoulders, the Lord will prompt me to be at peace. And when I say “be at peace,” I mean far more than “shut up”—I mean “be at rest body, soul, and spirit so that my presence makes it far easier, not more difficult, for Kenny to be at peace himself.” This kind of stillness is cultivated. It’s not easy; in fact, learning to be still is a discipline.
Are you a chatterbox? Don’t apologize—there’s nothing wrong with you. But learn to give the gift of silence when the situation calls for it, and you’ll discover that you can bring your husband relief from the tension or confusion in his head—and he’ll love you for it.