So I thought I’d try something new.
For the past 5 years-ish, I’ve reserved most of my marriage blogging for Fridays as people are heading into the weekend. So I thought, like a good cup of Costa Rican coffee on Monday morning, I’d start off the week with a simple marital challenge. So today, I thought I’d break down this week’s challenge to two words:
What often happens in marriage is what can happen in life. We tend to judge ourselves by our intentions and our spouse by his/her actions.
A question I tend to ask couples in this place of tension is, “Do you trust your spouse’s heart? Do you believe he/she loves you?” If the answer is “no,” then there are other issues at hand. If the answer is “yes,” then my reply is simple: Then see his/her actions through those intentions and show the same grace you show yourself. Sometimes, the action holds more ignorance then intention; sometimes the heart was right but the method was not.
How much conflict do we entertain because we want grace for ourselves but justice for others? We allow ourselves space to work through our own issues but zero margin for our spouse.
“From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.” John 1:16
How do we navigate through this? Let’s make it as simple as A-B-C.
A – Ask clarifying questions.
Where the “A” you used to respond with was “Assume,” stop and ask your spouse about what you just experienced. Instead of jumping to imaginary conclusions, ask about the action(s) you just experienced with the same level of grace that Christ gave you. “I don’t understand what just happened. Help me understand…?” The beauty of verbalizing this as a question is, first, it gets you to think before you respond and second, it helps your spouse to own their actions. Sometimes, people don’t understand what their actions do. And even if they do, this gives them a chance to own their issues.
B – Be open to your spouse’s perspective.
Slip inside their skin and see things from their perspective. This doesn’t excuse behavior but it may explain it. And an explanation can bring understanding. Maybe their behavior wasn’t wrong at all but it stirred up a hurt from your past. Perhaps because expectations were not clarified, he/she didn’t realize an expectation wasn’t met. Don’t assume you are always in the right and/or don’t defend your “rightness” because you don’t want to be humble with your spouse. Make sure you show value to your spouse’s perspective with the same level that you expect for yours.
“But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” James 4:6
C – Confront with grace.
If the grace of God is not our default, it’ll cause more fracture than we anticipated. Grace is what steadies our hands and hearts so that we can build, adjust, and reinforce our marriage. But a misunderstanding about “grace” is that people see it as passive. I see it as aggressive. Grace doesn’t ignore or hide issues, it gives us the mindset and strategy to deal with them. It positions us for the greater health of the marriage and glorification of Jesus.
Today, stop judging yourself by your intentions and your spouse by his/her actions. Play fair.
Love you all. Praying for you.
Thanks for letting me ramble…
BTW: Check out my book. Click on the link below.