2 Minute Devo: What are you thinking Day 18

We’re focusing on what the Bible says about the “mind” and how that affects us.  Spend time on the devo and take a minute or two to ponder what the Word is challenging you to do.

Matthew 5:27-28

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

You may already know that October is Breast Cancer awareness month. There is a group doing a special event auctioning three unique pieces of furniture. All the proceeds of the sale will go towards Breast Cancer awareness charities.
You can see the details here:
http://www.regencyshop.com/charity-auction.html

You’ll never be the perfect spouse…so stop trying.

Maybe you provided the perfect date.  Perhaps you found the perfect gift.  Possibly, you cleaned up the house for your spouse to come home perplexed in surprise over what was done without asking. You spoke the love language of your spouse flawlessly.  You stand there in your cape taking in the glory of your title.   Other spouses envy/hate you for what your spouse posts about you on social media.  You stand back in the glory of what you feel you’ve become.

The perfect spouse.

perfect spouse

It may be the next morning or even ten minutes later, but reality has hit.  The smile on your spouse’s face isn’t as big as it was a few moments ago.  Social media isn’t singing your praises anymore.  The fame of your accomplishments seem to be dimming.  Your mind seems to be thinking “What should I do next? How do I get that feeling back? What do I need to do to regain the title again?”

But it’s nothing more than a hamster wheel.

hamster-wheel

This “hamster wheel” is an endless pursuit of something can never happen.  I watch/counsel people from all walks of life striving for the same thing: they want to have the perfect marriage by being the perfect spouse. 

I’ll admit as a marriage blogger/preacher/counselor, I admire the drive to be the perfect spouse.  It seems like a great accomplishment and something we should all strive to be.  

But here’s the problem: it’s not what your spouse needs from you. 

Huh?

I’ll say it this way: Your spouse doesn’t need you to be driven to be the perfect spouse.  Your spouse needs you to be driven to be the best man/woman of God possible.  

Let me explain…

As admirable as it seems to be, striving to be the perfect spouse can be extremely hazardous to your marriage. What I’ve learned from these type of people is they’re willing to do and/or sacrifice anything to look like that superhero to their spouse….even if it means lowering our standards and sacrificing their character. After all, our spouse is happy…isn’t that the point.

NO!

When you are DRIVEN to be “the perfect spouse”: 

  • Your decisions become about “what makes my spouse happy” as opposed to “what does my spouse/marriage need”.  After all, his/her happiness is everything to you. 
  • To protect your title of perfection, you shy away from confrontation by avoiding it instead of walking in truth. 
  • You overly spoil your spouse. Your actions are dictated by the wants of the marriage instead of the needs.
  • Your strength is derived from affirmation and recognition of your accomplishments.
  • You place your spouse at the center of your life instead of Christ.  

You can ask Anne, I love to take good care of her.  I love fulfilling her needs and serving her the way the Bible states.  But the worst thing I can do is make her the center of my life.  It’s the worst thing I can show my children.  

As flattered as your spouse will be, they don’t need you to be the perfect spouse.  They may say it, but it’s not going to help them or your marriage.  Why? Because it’s a hamster wheel that will only get you to a point where when you stop make them the center, they’ll inherently feel like the marriage is failing.  You’ve conditioned him/her in such an unhealthy addiction of being the center of everything. 

What your spouse needs is for you to be the best man/woman of God possible.  They need you to have Christ at the center of your life.  He/she needs you to be drawing your strength from the Holy Spirit.  I love what the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1: 

1 Corinthians 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

Paul didn’t begin with himself.  His focal point came from who Christ is.  And it’s from that place that he was able to be the man he needed to be.  It was from that point that he became the leader that others, like you and me, needed him to be. 

THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND!!!

I’m not telling you to stop dating your spouse. 
I will not steer you away from speaking your spouse’s love language. 
Don’t stop showing humble, courteous, self-sacrificing love. 
I’m not advising you to ignore your marriage relationship.

What I am saying is: all of that should come from you keeping Christ in His rightful place as the center of your life.  Why? Because your marital actions will come from a place of truth, humility, grace, and unconditional love.  You’ll treat your spouse the way that Christ treats you.

And that’s what your spouse truly needs. 

You want to be a superhero to your husband/wife? Follow Jesus and give them THAT example to follow (1 Cor. 11:1).

Thanks for letting me ramble…

2 Minute Devo: Confronted with me John 4

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October is our journey through the 2 minute series called “Resurrecting Repentance”.  It’s as simple as viewing the vlog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is John 4:

John 4

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.[a]

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her,“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.[b] The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know;we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.

31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

43 After the two days he departed for Galilee. 44 (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) 45 So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.

46 So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you[c] see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him,“Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. 51 As he was going down, his servants[d] met him and told him that his son was recovering. 52 So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour[e] the fever left him.” 53 The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household.54 This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.

Naming Your spouse: Weekly Marriage Blog

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Naming something is a powerful thing.  It says something about authority and even speaks about passion and vision.

14 years ago, when deciding a name for our daughter, Anne and I had quite a few disagreements about what our little girl would be called.  We knew it had to be a name that we were both excited about as well as something that kids on the playground can’t use to twist and make fun of her.  I brought up names like Cosette, Fantine, and Eponine. Obviously my passion for Les Miserables (both book and musical) were coming out.  Those immediately went to the chopping block. We bounced from name to name before we settled on a name we love: Camryn Noelle.

It’s a lot of pressure to come up with a name that a child will FOREVER be known as. Again, naming is a powerful thing.

Genesis is a story of new beginnings.  Early in creation’s story, Adam is given the responsibility to name animals.  In my futile mind, this had to be an immense amount of pressure.  To name all of the animals with names that not just give them identity for the moment but would be the name they would carry for centuries.

Adam and Eve

There’s a so much we can get into but I specifically want to look at Genesis 3:1-21.  I think it’s really important that we get the back-story of what’s taking place.

  • Woman eats the fruit from the tree that she knew she wasn’t supposed to even touch.
  • Adam take the fruit from the woman and eats it.
  • Eyes are opened.  Fear and shame sets in.
  • The curse is pronounced upon the serpent.
  • We see the repercussions of sin

It’s verses 20-21 that I want to focus in on.  It is here that Adam’s wife is not longer called “woman”. Why?  Simply said: Because he names her. The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

These are two amazing scriptures. There’s so much redemption packed into these two verses. It is in verse 20 that, up unto this point in the story, the woman has only been referred to as “woman” and not “Eve”. (I’m thinking how Anne would act if all I ever called her was woman…maybe I’ll save that for another blog.) Remember: She was the one who listened to the serpent.  She was the one who took the bit.  She gave it to her husband. It is at this point in the story that Adam decides to name his wife.  But instead of naming her “sin” or “weakness” or something to reflect frustration and hurt. He does something else…

He names her Eve.

He names her “potential”

The moment of her greatest tragedy, grace was extended.  Why?  Adam was made in the image of God.  He was reacting in the redemptive way God responds to us. In fact. if you follow verse 21, you see that instead of leaving them in fear and shame, God provides a covering for them.  An innocent animal is sacrificed for them to have a covering over their shame.

Again…there is so much redemption in these verses.

My simple TRUTH I want to share this week with ya is this:

You have the power to name the people in your life. 

I’m not talking about taking your spouse down to city hall and legally changing their name.  I’m talking about everything that we attach to our spouse’s identity.  We have the power to fix an identity to them and force them to wear it whether they like it or not.  Adam probably could have justified any other name for Eve to reflect her mistake.  But he names her “potential”.  He recognizes that he himself was not innocent and he looks at her with vision and speaks that vision over her life.  Her name is Eve: the mother of all things.

How often have we allowed a bad circumstance to dictate the identity we stick to our spouse. They’ve made a mistake and we use the line, “I’ll forgive but I won’t forget” and they have to live with a label forever.  I’ve had people say, “they keep making the same mistakes”.  That may be true in some circumstances, but how many spouses are living out the expectations attached to the labels we place upon them.

Do they keep failing because you continue to let them know they are failures.

Do they have expectations to follow that identity because not only do you attached labels, but because of who you’ve talked to (parents, friends, etc), other people now look at them with labels?

Do they continue down paths because a spouse hasn’t taken the chance to name them “potential”?

Proverbs 18:21 teaches us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” The wisdom of this truth is seen in all of life. Kind words breed warmth of relationship; harsh words breed tension and separation. True words build trust and confidence; lies break trust, and doubt and suspicion replace confidence. Words are central to our most meaningful relationships.

If you want to see change.  Change their name.  In other words, change what you have attached to way you have labeled them.  For too long, we have allowed our spouses to wear labels that they were never meant to wear.  Their backs have been breaking under the weight of faults, bitterness, unrealistic expectations, and unforgiveness.  Their legs grow weary walking the stressful paths we’ve placed them on.  It’s time to change their destiny by starting with their name.

Name them “potential”.

A simple prescription to help you bring “potential” in your spouse is to speak blessing over and in them.  There are numbers of ways to bless someone but the most affirming are those blessings that come in words:

1) Words that affirm and approve

2) Words that commend and compliment

3) Words that specifically speak love and affection

4) Words that invoke hope and self-confidence

5) Words that answer pain and disappointment with support and faith.

As you speak blessing and potential over them.  A new identity will arise in your heart AS WELL AS within their heart.  Watch them rise to the potential as you unleash them to grow. Watch your passion for them grow as you release the issues to the Lord and see your spouse for how God created them.

Set your spouse up for success!! Give them a new name.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Part 2 from our “Live Highlight Reel” service @kalamazoofirst

Highlight Reel "Live" service

On June 30th we had our “Live” service in which our plan was to share testimonies and then answer questions from the congregation. Because of how the Lord directed the service. We’ve had to re-adjust our approach to the questions by utilizing the blog to answer the questions. In Part 1, we started with four questions while we waited for the participating couples to read and give some replies. If you’ve missed Part 1 of this blog, check out “Follow up from our “Live Highlight Reel” service @kalamazoofirst

I sent off the questions that were submitted to ALL 4 couples. The couples chose different questions to answer.  Here’s our answers:

Will I ever find a woman?

Benny and Nicole Clark: I believe if you pray to GOD to find that right mate for you he will answer that prayer. You have to put action towards your prayer.

Ryan and Katie: Yes, they are everywhere.

What do women look for when choosing someone?…I wanna know everything

I’ll try to keep this one simple to answer…tough to carry out:
Connection (Spiritually, emotionally, etc)
Fun
Maturity
Responsibility
Security
Stability
Respect.

What have you done when it seems like you and your spouse are always headed in different directions?

Benny and Nicole Clark: I have been up front with her and told her how I felt @ that time. She has always been very, very up front with me also. Figure it out together as ONE…

Ryan and Katie: We’re not 100% sure what you mean by ‘always headed in different directions.’ In our life, we’ve experienced two kinds of ‘different directions’ so we’ll address both. The first version is a busy-life
version where you don’t see each other except when you pass the kid off, at dinner once a week and for about 15 minutes at bedtime before you pass out. This we’re-busy-and-always-running lifestyle was a huge contributor to the near death of our marriage. For us, the solution was dramatic: Ryan changed his work schedule from second to first shift and eventually changed careers altogether. Not everyone can make such a dramatic change. (Having said that, don’t eliminate the possibility completely – you might need to ask the Lord if you need to make dramatic change in order to make more room for your spouse. If He says yes, trust that He will make a way!) The fact of the matter is, a marriage where you and your spouse are always headed different directions provides a weak spot for the enemy to exploit. (For
example, he might put an attractive, like-minded person in your spouse’s path who’s always heading the same direction he/she is!) Don’t give the enemy a foothold!  We highly recommend that you make changes so that you are no longer ships passing in the night. Some practical things you can
do are:

  • Pre-plan time for just you and your spouse and treat it as sacred. You don’t have to spend money, but you at least need some quality time together.
  • Communicate as much as possible – daily phone calls to catch up, emails, text messages – whatever it takes so that your spouse feels like he/she is in the loop with what’s going on with you.
  • Say no to things. We discovered that there were a lot of harmless or good things – even ministry opportunities – that we needed to say no to because we needed to guard the limited time we had to spend quality time as a family/couple.
  • Ask yourself honestly if there’s something or someone in your life that you’re putting before your spouse? In our case, Katie had to halt her workaholic tendencies and spend less time at work. Ryan had to give up certain friendships that were damaging to our marriage.  For a long time we played the “You’re not being fair to me by asking me to give this up!” game, but when we chose to put the other person first, they were natural sacrifices to make.

The other kind of ‘headed in different directions’ we experienced has more to do with the fact that each spouse changes over time. Because we stopped spending time together, we started growing in opposite directions with different ideas about what we wanted in life. If you and your spouse seem to have completely different – perhaps conflicting – priorities in life, we recommend prayer. Ask God to give the two of you shared priorities. Then ask Him to help you understand the other person’s perspective. Look for ways to put them first – even small things. Talk openly about what you want and why; try not to be defensive. Also, listen openly.  Your spouse is speaking their mind, not reading yours. You won’t agree on everything, but at least you’ll still know each other. In our experience, you’ll get much farther by asking God to show you what you need to change or understand rather than praying for God to make
your spouse change his/her mind.

Have any of you had couples counseling and how was the experience? Did it help strengthen your marriage?

Lori & Scot:  Yes, we definitely did go to counseling.  It was helpful; certainly it helped Scot adopt a less confrontational and defensive style of discussing issues.  For Lori, the counselor helped her label and understand her own emotions.  The counselor could catch those moments when a conversation starts to “go off the rails” and point out the counterproductive styles or tactics so that they can be corrected before emotions get too raw.  It probably would have been even better if we had gone earlier in our marriage, before such serious problems had set in.  On the other hand, counseling is not a substitute for prayerful reflection on your own behavior.  Good habits must be practiced both inside and outside the counselor’s office.  The counselor can point out the problems, but changing is hard – often so hard you need the help of the Lord to really achieve it.

Is there one thing you wish you knew before you got married?

Ryan and Katie: The person you marry on your wedding day will be a different person five, 10, 20 and 50 years from now. We all change – hopefully in good ways. You won’t always have the same things in common. Your spouse won’t always enjoy the same hobbies and past times as they used to. Your perspectives on faith and politics and life’s goals are going to change. That’s another reason why (as Pastor Dave said in his July 1 blog) it’s important to be sure that you and your spouse share the same core beliefs and values – the things that don’t change, like a commitment to serving Jesus. It’s also a reason why you must decided in advance that you will love and be committed to this person through thick and thin because you are both going to evolve over time.

Lori & Scot:  Yes, we have both often felt that we had a very inadequate understanding of how much our families’ styles affected our assumptions about communications and conflict in a marriage.  What we’ve learned since then is that many of us come through our childhood with certain (often subconscious) injuries and hurts from our primary caregivers.  Usually, it was not that our parents meant to hurt us, but they were imperfect humans too.  It often leaves us with a longing, or a “hole,” that we hope our mate will fill.  Indeed, we often pick out mates that remind us in some way of our parents, but we’re always hoping that they will fulfill that longing.  It isn’t always the parent of the opposite gender we try to match.  Maybe you feel like your father, was a devout Christian and a highly moral man.  Yet, he was also distant and aloof, perhaps hard to please.  You might marry a wife who is also a good, moral Christian.  After a while, you may come to find that she too is hard to please.  But God’s love has no holes.  When we strive to become the best reflection of God’s love for our spouse, we improve ourselves in the process.  The good, moral Christian woman learns to show more appreciation and let her husband feel the long-sought approval for a job well done.  The little girl who never felt respected by her family for her ideas or intelligence probably craves that recognition from her husband when she’s a grown woman.  That husband grows himself when he learns to be more humble and listen respectfully to her good ideas.  One good resource to learn more about this concept is the book entitled Getting the Love You Want, by Harville Hendrix.

What has been one of the hardest compromises you had to make in your marriage?

I think it’s easy to make a list of the individual things that I, personally, feel was hard.  I could say, some hobbies, sports, time with friends, my work schedule, sex, etc.

What it breaks down to is my pride and selfishness.  They are what makes compromises hard.  When I don’t want to change and/or I want to get what I want, no matter what the issue is, compromise is difficult to do.  The other side of that coin is a spouse won’t make the same sacrifices.

What makes compromise easier (not necessarily easy) is when I choose to look through the eyes of my spouse and approach marriage for her benefit instead of my own. I’m to love her as Christ loved the church and therefore need to be willing to lay everything down. Again, this is a reciprocated relationship which means that we BOTH approach the marriage the same way; we both give, we both die to self, and, therefore, the marriage wins.  You don’t wait for your spouse to comprise first.  Take the leadership and show it before you see it.

Do you every feel competitive in your marriage? How do you deal with this?

Absolutely.  As a competitive person married to a competitive person, this comes very natural.  The problem with being competitive is it’s driven by pride and selfishness.  The heart behind it is personal gain. I’ll defer to what I said in the last question: What makes dealing with competition easier (not necessarily easy) is when I choose to look through the eyes of my wife and approach marriage for her benefit instead of my own. I cannot approach it for the personal win. I’m to love her as Christ loved the church and therefore need to be willing to lay everything down. Again, this is a reciprocated relationship which means that we BOTH approach the marriage the same way; we both give, we both die to self, and, therefore, the marriage wins.  You don’t wait for your spouse to serve first.  Take the leadership and show it before you see it.

How do you continue to stay committed to someone who doesn’t want to stay committed to the relationship?

Lori & Scot:  This was one of the hardest things for Scot in the divorce.  He really felt committed to Lori, but that feeling wasn’t reciprocated.  He went from being the chased to being the chaser,… and he made a lot of mistakes in the course of that chase.  Here are some of the lessons those mistakes taught us (read “Them” as the prodigal spouse):

Treat Them with Patience

When hoping for reconciliation with your spouse, always remember that the secret to peace is to accept and appreciate God’s timing.  Doubt or resentment can lead to despair or moving ahead without His advice.  Be patient waiting for God’s plan to reveal itself.

Treat Them with Calm

In our anguish and desperation to “solve the problem,” we often deny our spouse the space and peace they need to hear God’s voice speaking to them versus our pleas for reconciliation.  This is especially true for men who often want to be “Mr. Fix-It,” relentlessly focusing on solutions to the marital crisis and the goal of reuniting the family.  It’s important for your spouse to view you as a source of calm instead of turmoil.  Chances are they already have enough stress and turmoil going on inside their heads and hearts.

Treat Them with a Soft Heart

If we can recognize the injured child inside our spouse, we can certainly be more understanding of their current behaviors. It’s even better if we can provide the love, care, and encouragement needed for our spouse to overcome those past injuries.   Remember, despite the marital strife that might have gotten you to this point, to have a soft heart toward the injured child inside your spouse.

Speak Their Language

Dr. Gary Chapman believes that we all have a “love language,” a primary way of expressing and interpreting love.  We can show love in many ways but Chapman outlines five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.  We often have a different love language than our spouse.  The things that make us feel loved and valued are different from those that make our spouses feel loved and valued.   Some people cite the Golden Rule as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” but Chapman shows us that we have to dig a little deeper here and “do unto our spouse as they wish to have done unto them.”  It’s like traveling to a foreign country and trying to use the wrong currency.  If we go to England and try to pay our bills with Mexican pesos, they just won’t recognize the payment. They take pounds in England, not pesos.  Similarly, if we try to show our spouse how much we love them by buying them an expensive gift, but their love language is Quality Time; we just paid in the wrong currency.  This is particularly important to bear in mind when we are trying to reconcile with a prodigal spouse.  They’re already convinced you’re speaking a different language, but you’ve got to show them you know how to communicate your love in a language they value.

Treat Them with Honesty (and to thine own self be true)

Whether you or your spouse did something to compromise the trust in your relationship, we are all sinners and play a role in the current situations in our marriages.  Search your heart for thoughts or behaviors that have negatively affected your relationship – pray and eliminate them from your life.  Be honest with yourself as you examine these behaviors – after all, if you cannot be honest with yourself, you will never be able to be honest with your spouse.

Treat Them with Consistency (rebuild trust)

Consistently treat your spouse with patience, calmness, understanding, and love.  If your negative behavior or thinking was part of the reason they left, continue to show your spouse that you no longer exhibit these negative thoughts or behaviors.  Show them that the change in you is real.  Show them that they can be “safe” in your presence and that they can trust you to love them unconditionally.  Be supportive, encouraging, and positive in your interactions.

Treat Them with Grace

Reflect the grace that God has given you to your spouse.  Even if your spouse has done something to disrespect, hurt, or betray you, respond to them as God has responded to your sins and failures with undeserved grace.

Love Them Unconditionally

When your spouse is prodigal, your feelings of jealousy, anger, and resentment are “par for the course.” Unchecked, these emotions can corrode your inherent love for your spouse.  You must bear in mind how imperfect you are in the eyes of God, how often you have been unfaithful to Him and His purpose in your life.  Let God’s unconditional love for you, a flawed and sinful human being, be reflected in the way you love your spouse.  Indeed, your spouse may deliberately test your love, just to see how sincere you are, how real and unconditional your love truly is.  Only God can give you the strength to withstand these tests.  In The Love Dare, Steven and Alex Kendrick write that “The only way love can last a lifetime is if it’s unconditional.  The truth is that love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love.”   They go on to say, “But you will struggle and fail to achieve this kind of marriage unless you allow God to begin growing His love within you.  Love that ‘bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things’ (I Corinthians 13:7) does not come from within.  It can only come from God.”

Here are a few things not to do:

Don’ts

  • Don’t try to argue your spouse into reconciliation with logic or guilt
  • Don’t try to enlist the help of others (e.g., children, parents, brothers, or sisters) in convincing your spouse to reconcile – God is the best “convincer” you can have on your side
  • Don’t play holier than thou with your spouse – God will inspire them to change their ways better than you ever can, and you’re still a sinner no matter how much you may have improved yourself
  • Don’t try to rush or crowd your spouse when they show promising signs – let them control the pace and the proximity (sometimes the pace will be two steps forward and one step back)
  • Don’t view this as just a passing phase, something to get through until things “go back to normal” – “normal” was broken, or you wouldn’t be here
  • Don’t let your emotions get the better of you – pray for patience and calm
  • Don’t try to control all the outcomes – only God can do that
  • Don’t give up

Come back next week for Part 3 of this marriage blog!

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