How can we let go of our need to be right, our desire to win, our fear of being known? What are some practical ways we can revolutionize our marriages, to divorce-proof them?
1. Bless, don't curse
Instead of focusing on your spouse's shortcomings, consider listing what you're thankful for. Focus on the great things that made you fall in love with your spouse. Afterward, choose to speak words of blessing. This takes discipline and humility.
Instead of retaliating because your spouse forgot to do something, pray for your spouse's overworked schedule, say something positive about something he or she has done that you admire, or stay silent until you can think of a blessing.
2. Replace contempt with love and respect
The apostle Paul has a lot to say about relationships and marriage in Ephesians 5, about submitting to each other, acting lovingly, and choosing the best for the other. He concludes his thoughts with, "To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband" (Ephesians 5:33).
Love and respect are the opposite of contempt. Choosing to love someone with whom you're frustrated demonstrates that you're relying on Jesus. It's only through Him that you can love someone who seems unlovely in an argument. Respecting someone who acts disrespectfully is nearly impossible, but with the Spirit of God within us, you can do this counterintuitive act. Next time you're in an argument with your spouse, ask yourself, How can I love him despite how he's acting? or What can I say that will show respect even though I'm not feeling respected? Choosing to do what feels impossible will keep you close to Jesus for help and will turn around a painful argument.
3. Settle your worth
If you're always looking to your spouse to be your fulfillment, you'll sink into resentment and negativity. Why?
Because no one on earth can fill up your heart. To put that expectation on another is unfair and misplaced. Only God can fill a heart. Only God can settle your worth. The source of your conflict could be that you're asking your spouse to be everything, when, in reality, Jesus should be your everything. The best gift you can give your spouse is a settled heart, resting fully in the fact that you're wildly loved by your Creator.
4. Risk your heart
Walling yourself off hurts both of you. You may think you're simply protecting yourself from further heartache, but your isolation deeply wounds your spouse. Excessive withdrawal is a form of emotional abuse.
Here's the difficult truth: If you've been hurt in relationship, God will use a relationship to heal you. The frustrating part of that healing is that you have to risk your heart again. In order to do that, you may need outside help, someone to coach or counsel you through the re-entry process. Protecting your heart at any cost only makes you an angry, closed-off person. It affects every relationship. So take time and space to heal, then re-engage.
5. Believe the best
It only takes a shift in perspective to believe the best about your spouse. In the Bible's famous love chapter, Paul doesn't say that we're to love when a person is easy to love. Instead, he tells us we're to love. Period. And he mentions this aspect of love toward the end of his discourse:
"[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Corinthians 13:7). The love that believes the best about your spouse is a choice that you make. You choose to bear, believe, hope, and endure. It's difficult, but not impossible. Jesus knows best how to love.
You simply need to ask for His help. My husband, Patrick, and I aren't perfect. We have arguments and misunderstandings. But we're learning the art of slowing down, asking Jesus for help, bending more toward selflessness. We're learning to bless, not curse, dignifying the other. The next time your spouse annoys or angers you, instead of retaliation, consider holding your tongue and unleashing Jesus' heart.
This article is courtesy of HomeLife Magazine.