Psychologists Cliff Notarius of the Catholic University of America and Howard Markham of the University of Denver discovered that none of the factors that one would guess might predict a couple's longevity: not how in love a newlywed couple says they are; not how much affection they exchange; and not how much they fight or what they fight about.
When Notarius and Markham studied newlyweds over the first decade of marriage, they found a subtle but telling difference at the beginning of their relationships.
Among couples who would ultimately stay together, on average 5 out of every 100 comments made about each other were put downs.
Among couples who would later split, roughly 10 out of every 100 comments were insults. That gap magnified over the following decade, until couples were flinging five times as many cruel and invalidating comments at each other as happy couples.
The researchers commented, "Hostile put downs act as cancerous cells that, if unchecked, erode the relationship over time, and in the end, relentless unremitting negativity takes control and the couple can't get through a week without major blowups." (US News and World Reports, February 21, 1994, p. 67)
This sounds remarkably similar to what the Bible says about the power of words in James 3:2, 5-6 (New Living Translation). "We all make mistakes, but those who control their tongues can also control themselves in every other way. So also, the tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. The tongue is a flame of fire. It is full of wickedness that can ruin your whole life."
The article concluded with these thoughts-
Words can do great harm, or be a tool for great good. They can build up relationships, or tear them apart- not just in marriages, but in the workplace as well. A Tiny spark -5% more negative comments - can be the difference between success and failure- vocationally and relationally.
I hope this encourages you as it did me...... food for thought.
(article taken from: A Monday Morning Service to the Business Community from Glen Schneiders)