Below is a powerful and practical guest post from my friend Matt Brown. Matt is a gifted writer, speaker and the founder of Think Eternity. For more info about Matt, his family and his global ministry, check out thinke.org.
No one is perfect, but everyone should try his or her best to love well…especially your spouse.
We have to be cautious not to be fatalistic in life. Much of life is about nurturing. Nurturing the right attitudes and relationships so that they can grow over time, but in our “Amazon Prime Now” society, we want things quick and easy too much of the time, and get frustrated when it is not quick and easy, and some even throw in the towel when they don’t see quick results from their efforts.
I wonder if some of you feel like there is a mountain between your marriage, when it’s really just speed bumps that have repeatedly stressed the relationship?
Ted Cunningham in his book The Power of Home, writes: “Great marriages flow from character, not chemistry. In a thriving marriage, character trumps chemistry every time. Daily decisions that flow from your character create compatibility over the long haul. Compatibility isn’t something you have. It’s something you make. It’s a disposition, an attitude, a willingness to work.”
I thought this was brilliant. For those of you who are still dating, don’t look for a future spouse who you have perfect chemistry with, look for someone who values character and spending their life growing and learning to love well…someone with a disposition, an attitude of willingness to work and fight for the relationship above all things.
Ted goes on to write, “When compatibility is all about acceptance for who you are, you rob yourself of the refining process. Becoming compatible means we each take personal responsibility for our own sinfulness.”
Our culture often gets this wrong. Greg Laurie puts it this way, “Our society tells you to find yourself. Jesus tells you to deny yourself, and lay your life down, and you will find true life.” Living for ourselves always gets us nowhere fast.
Everyone experiences speed bumps in their marriage, but what if you were intentional to level obstacles in the way of a deeper relationship, and spent your life loving your spouse with the attitude and disposition to work toward being more compatible and selfless toward them? Remember: The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. The grass is greener where you water it.
Here are 6 common speed bumps in marriage…what if you stopped doing these 6 things toward a deeper, more fulfilling relationship?
- Stop doing things that annoy your spouse
If your spouse is clearly annoyed by some of the everyday things you do, what if you tried to change yourself in order to stop doing those things?
I remember Dr. Emerson Eggerich, author of Love and Respect sharing years ago at a marriage conference that if he loved his wife, why wouldn’t he try to stop doing something that annoys her, in order to make her happier and more fulfilled with the relationship? I thought this was a powerful statement of selfless love, and I haven’t forgotten it. This is a mindset that we could all do good to work towards in our own relationships.
- Stop making your spouse wonder how much they mean to you
Tell your spouse how crazy you are about them. Tell them often. Tell them more than anyone else ever would. Be your spouse’s biggest admirer.
And don’t just say it, but also back it up with the way you treat them courteously and respectfully. Pursue your spouse emotionally and romantically, in ways they will respond to.
- Stop waiting for your spouse to beg you to help around the house or with the kids
Be mindful and intentional to look for ways to help around the house or with the kids. Don’t wait for your spouse to beg you to help more.
If they do express frustration in this area, ask what items you can take off their to do list, and how you can do more so they can take a needed break. You might be surprised at how much a little more effort means to them. Think about it: if you could make them happier by helping out more, wouldn’t you want to try?
- Stop spending all your time on duties, and make room for delights
Life is short. You don’t want to get to the end of your life, and wish you had more fun, worried less, traveled more, took more vacation days. Do it now.
Be persistent to set aside time in your week, month, and yearly calendar as a couple, towards healthy activities that fill your tank.
What if you made space for your spouse to enjoy their life more: to go on a vacation, indulge in hobbies without worrying about the time, or to do fun things they love.
- Steer clear of selfishness daily
This is where media, celebrities and society will often not help. There is no life on the other side of selfishness. On the other hand, if you make an effort each day to steer clear of selfishness, you will build the relationship you long for.
Stop trying to express yourself, and start listening to your spouse’s deepest needs more.
Stop trying to gain respect, and start admiring your spouse for who they already are.
Stop trying to make your point stronger, and start letting your spouse’s points make you better.
Stop thinking you deserve more, and should get more, and start looking to give of yourself more.
- Stop trying to make your marriage work in your own power
Maybe you are reading this, and you already feel it is too late, or you don’t know if there’s anything left you can do.
I have good news for you – when you come to the end of your rope, you arrive at the starting point of God’s power.
Marriage is too important, too epic, too messy, too precious to try to go at it in your own power. God promises in His Word, that when you call on Him, He will provide the power that only He can give.
Don’t let another day go by that you don’t pray for your spouse, and pray for yourself that you could continue to grow into and become the kind of person they always needed.
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