This is a phrase used often. It is said when the person really is just kidding. Laughter erupts with everyone in the room.
However, there are times when this phrase is said and one person is the brunt of the “just kidding” words spoken. One person may try to laugh it off–the one who said the thing. But to the one who heard the words, it’s like a dagger to the heart. They aren’t laughing. Oh, they may laugh on the outside, but on the inside there are tears of pain, of humiliation, of all sorts of bad things.
When this happens in a marriage the pain is only more intense because the one who knows you best is betraying you by leaving you vulnerable and exposed in public.
This may sound harsh. But it isn’t our heart to be harsh, only to address a very real problem that can be a blind spot in many marriages.
Here’s a scenario:
A couple is at a dinner party with friends. The evening is full of laughter and fun when one wife comments, “The flowers on the table are gorgeous. Where did you get them?”
“Oh, my husband bought them for me last week and they’ve stayed fresh all this time. I just love them.”
Another wife chimes in putting her arm around her husband’s neck, “If my husband ever bought me flowers it would be at my funeral.” She laughs and everyone else joins in, yet there is a sting in the air.
When the wife sees the expression on her husband’s face she says, “I was just kidding.”
These types of situations happen in marriage because two sinners got married. We shouldn’t be surprised when we treat each other sinfully. What we do after a time like this determines if our marriage is on a healthy path or a slippery slope.
A marriage on a healthy path…
…would bring this scenario up later when the two are alone. The husband would say, “You know when you said that about the flowers tonight, I felt embarrassed. It wasn’t funny to me.”
A marriage on a slippery slope…
…would either not bring the situation up at all, letting the sting penetrate the heart. Or the husband may retaliate with a stinger back to her in front of their friends. Both responses only add to the damage done.
Saying anything in jest that has an ounce of truth to it is detrimental to a healthy marriage. We must purpose before getting in situations like these to never put each other in a bad light. If there are hurts or disappointments–which there will be–make sure you talk about these things in private. If you happen to be the one who said the hurtful words in front of others, humble yourself and repent. You should also go to your friends and repent to them for speaking ill of your spouse making the moment awkward for them.
These are growing moments in your relationship, but growth is stunted if we don’t learn from our mistakes.
The next time you use the words, I was just kidding, make sure you really are.
How have you handled moments like these? Has your marriage learned and grown stronger as a result? Or are you in need of making some things right?
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Wonderful reminder. It’s making me realize that saying “just kidding” could be an attempt on my part to protect MY reputation once I noticed that saying that made my husband or others feel awkward or embarrassed. Whew. It’s also a form of lying, right? If I really wasn’t “just kidding” and say I was, I lied. Thanks for getting my thoughts going!
Sheree, You’re right–it is a form of lying. God help us to confront this sinful tendency and be honest with our spouse in private, so we’re not making sarcastic jabs in public.
Been there! My husband gave me a real zinger once. But he realized right away and mended the hurt. It’s something I need to watch as well, as sarcasm and teasing come pretty naturally. Building up, not tearing down!
Erin – I’m wondering if sarcasm isn’t the enemy’s number 1 tactic in going after marriages. These little darts aren’t harmless, they wound and kill the life out of a marriage. Thanks for sharing.
This is so true and the adage “sticks & stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is SO wrong. It’s the same with bullying…I was always fat and so I would try to take the sting out of something by being the FIRST to comment on my weight, so that I could build a wall around my own inadequacies and using my own “put-down” would make it a matter of laughter rather than hurt.
I realized much too late, that my habit actually hurt me worse and also hurt those who loved me no matter how big I was…I was my own bully – my own worst enemy and ultimately had to learn to stop mocking myself…it was getting me nowhere fast.
Lots of prayer and talking it through with people who loved me, I finally conquered that personal demon and put him where he belonged – not in my life!
Simply wow, to your comment. Thanks for sharing your experience, your insight and your advice. May we all learn from you and change as a result.
Thank you – sometimes I think I say too much and yet other times, I think I say too little. I appreciate your response to my comment!
I’m the same way, so I understand completely.
In our young married years this was more of an issue for us. It was always in a humorous style but when feelings get hurt on either side its not funny. We have tried to put in safe guards so we don’t do that to each other anymore. Also, we don’t say rude things and then laugh. I am amazed at the couples who say shut up to each other. Excuse me? I know I would be upset and I think my hubby would be too if we said that to each other.
Yes, those couples seem to stand out don’t they? Esp. after God has dealt with you in this area. Maybe we need to start speaking up in love to help couples see this sin for what it is–a marriage destroyer.
I have been on the hurting end of these comments. My husband grew doing this in his family. Finally in the last couple of years he is realizing that this has hurt many people, but now we have to brake the kids of this.
Don’t be afraid of the work ahead of you. God gives much grace to humble and the fact that your husband is seeing this is an evidence of humility at work in your lives. Look forward in faith for what God will do, not back in regret.
Boy, that would terminate a heck of a lot of comments….
🙂 I can always count on you to help me see things from a different perspective. I hadn’t thought of this one.
Some people use sarcasm or ‘just kidding’ remarks as a way of getting back at their spouses or making a point, but in a public setting (or even in private) it is so unhealthy. It is never Ok.
Thanks Debi. I usually avoid those kinds of coarse jokes. Instead, I prefer to go to the other extreme when “kidding”. Instead of talking about funerals, I would say something like, “Don’t we have amazing wives, we truly married well to be receiving such”. Otherwise, embarrassing jokes are just that, embarrassing!
Great tip Walter! Thanks for helping us with another way to avoid those embarrassing moments.
I once heard this described as “sting of the tail.” It is that joke which really contains a slam or an insult or a dig in it which may even be intended to bring hurt, but that intent is covered over with laughter so it becomes okay to wound the other. After all it is joke and I was “just kidding”.
It is like the sting of a scorpion’s tail, and it can be as deadly too. Worse yet, who wants to be around something or someone who stings all the time?
Thanks for the great analogy.