Do You Still Not Understand?
I was at my monthly counseling meeting where we were brushing up on listening skills. It reminded me of Jesus and the disciples, when He said to them:
You still don’t get it? Don’t you understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes, don’t you see? And having ears, don’t you hear? And don’t you remember? Mark 8: 17-18
Marriage can be like that. When we get married we are in love. Everything is right with the world. We are in sync with our spouse. But, there will come a day when you will have your first argument or you will have to say no, because it's not doable or not in the budget. You will disagree and voila, your first argument.
How will you respond?
Will you react without thinking?
Why are you upset? Why do you hear, but you do not understand each other?
No matter what you disagree about or how upset you may feel right now, don't forget, you love this person. Your disagreement shouldn't be against each other. You don't want to hurt the one you love.
How can you best communicate your feelings to your spouse, without getting into an argument?
Genesis 2 teaches us the foundation of marriage, and later Jesus teaches us the importance of serving one another and to be like-minded. (John 13; Phil. 2)
But no one teaches us effective interpersonal relationship skills when we get married. When we get married, it is no longer you and I, but us as a team. We must always be for each other, not against each other. The Bible teaches us to bear each others burdens and to be slow to anger. (Gala. 6:2; James 1:19)
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up." 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Jesus is the ruler of our hearts and He models and teaches us to live in servanthood, humility, kindness, forgiveness, and most importantly love. He wants us to look inside ourselves and to step away from our own self-centeredness and selfish behaviors.
We all have a story to tell. There will be bumps along the way. The way we overcome the rocky path is to allow God to permeate our souls, for the enemy is ready to pounce at any moment. Do not give him a foothold.
When I met my husband, it was not long before he stole my heart. I fought my desire to be in a relationship when I met him. It was not what I was looking for. I had already experienced my share of bad relationships. I was on a new journey to follow my Savior, again. As the Lord refreshed my soul, though, He also blessed me with my soon-to-be husband.
Steven, my husband, had asked me out several times before I succumbed. My journey with men had not been a positive one by any means, and I don't mean just bad boyfriends. My parents divorced after 20 years of marriage. I did not know what a healthy relationship looked like.
At first, my relationship with Steven was amazing. He is a gentleman after all. We decided to get married, however, all that repeated in my head and heart was, "He is going to leave me." I was traumatized, and did not realize the extent of my anger. He patiently repeated each time, "I love you. I am not going to leave you." But, this was my lingering baggage, early on in our relationship. If we disagreed about anything, I would get upset and think, "Oh no, he is going to leave me." But, he never stopped being patient or expressing his love for me.
It wasn't about what he had done to me, but what had been a part of my pain. For other couples, it might be about the years of built up anger, resentment, and things not said, until you finally explode. You start talking about the first time they did something wrong, and now this and that, and finally you see divorce as the only solution. The negative things that happened all throughout the marriage suddenly are the only things you see. You forget how wonderful it was when you met; how you fell in love; and the wonderful blessings God has bestowed upon you throughout your marriage.
No marriage is perfect. But that is a critical point in a marriage where you need to profess:
My marriage is worth fighting for!
I don't need to have the last word
Winning is not more important than the love I have for my spouse, the one I promised to love and cherish until death separates us
I will not allow pride to be at the center of my heart, but instead choose humility
I choose to honor and obey God in my marriage
I will not give a foothold to the enemy
What issues keep you from living the kind of life where there is a revolution that might change your marriage, your family, your heart? Ask the Lord today to help you to see what you do not understand. For communicating effectively with your spouse means listening with empathy.
Our engagement with our spouse should express our love.
Ways we can express the kind of love where God is at the center of our home, our marriage, and our heart:
Keep Christ at the center of your home and pray together regularly.
Decide today how you will resolve conflict in your marriage. Never do it publicly or in front of your children.
Communicate lovingly and be empathetic. Keep your spouse's love tank full.
Focus on each other's strengths and compliment each other's weaknesses.
Learn to appreciate one another's differences and what makes you unique, for these are the reasons you were first attracted to them.
Never use the "D" (divorce) word.
Date nights are sacred.
Establish boundaries and safeguard your marriage.
Make marriage retreats, marriage books, and devotionals a part of your marriage to help keep it strong and thriving.
Whatever feelings you have, don't hold it in until you explode and believe there is no hope other than divorce. God can bring healing, hope, and restoration to your marriage.
If you need help, get counseling, a marriage coach, marriage mentors, a pastor, or seek out friends who will be for your marriage and give you godly advice.
Edify one another and live in servanthood, having each others best.
Talk about money regularly. Keep a budget, and don't let finances become an issue.
Respect and cherish one another.
Use "I" statements. Take turns speaking and paraphrase what you hear to make sure you are understanding. Respond in love!
Don't bring up past issues. Bringing up the past only hinders you from learning from it and growing from it, and most importantly it hinders your relationship with the Lord. (Matt. 6:14-15)
Forgiveness is grace. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Col. 3:13)
Keep intimacy alive in your marriage. Don't withhold sex as a punishment.
If emotions are intensifying or leading you to want to withdraw, it's okay to say, "I can't talk about this right now." If possible, pray together. But if you need to walk away to calm down, pray, and think about the situation, communicate clearly and decide on the exact time you will talk, but don't go to bed angry.
Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Ephesians 4:26
I encourage you to tell your story, as it might be the catalyst for jump starting another marriage that is struggling. Sharing your incredible testimony of God's amazing love and how God revolutionized your marriage is such a powerful way to honor God. If you feel like you are the only one with problems in your marriage, you are not alone. This is not how God intended marriage to be.
You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11
Is Christ at the center of your marriage? Christ at center is at the heart of every marriage that is worth fighting for. For the Lord says, "With man this is impossible, but with God ALL things are possible." (Matt. 19:26) Where there seems to be no hope, no way, or getting past the hurt, and forgiveness and reconciliation is inconceivable, God says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6) Ask God to help you overcome your unbelief. (Mark 9:24)
For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light. Psalm 36:9
Do you still not get it?
Having eyes, don’t you see? And having ears, don’t you hear?
As Christians, we are called to be the light of the world. When people see us, they should see Christ in us. Our marriage should reveal the love of Christ, as Christ revealed His love for the world. So much so, that He died for us. (John 3:16)
So I ask, do you remember when you first met? When you fell in love? Hold on to that!
Do you see how important your spouse is to you? Do you understand that God put them in your life for better or for worse, till death do you part?
And having ears, do you hear their heart when they are in pain? Do you listen with empathy and really put yourself in their shoes?
Do not harden your heart with pride, with having to be right, with hurting the one you love. Choose to love your spouse every day. When you need help, fall on your knees and pray. For the One who created you cares and loves you deeply.
Lord, give me eyes that see and ears that hear and a heart that understands, that I may respect and cherish the one I love.