Have you ever been injured? Maybe a broken arm? Or a sprained ankle? What about something as tiny as a splinter?
When there is an injury in the body, our focus (mental and physical energy) goes to that injury. All else seems to stop and we protect the area of the body in order to allow for healing.
Take for example when our daughter tore her meniscus during a volleyball game. The pain was excruciating and was all that Hannah could focus on. Following the surgery, Hannah wore a brace to protect her knee and her focus was on doing things that would reduce the pain and facilitate healing until the pain started to subside.
The same should be true in marriage, but sadly, sometimes, our focus isn’t on healing. When there is hurt present in the relationship, it is all that we can focus on. But do we focus on making it right? Do we focus on facilitating healing in the relationship? It’s going to take up our mental energy and sometimes our physical energy, so we might as well use that energy to bring things back into harmony in the marriage. IF we are not focused on the healing of the hurt, it brings disharmony to the relationship. Marriage is God’s example of our relationship (as believers) with Jesus; Marriage was intended to be a sanctuary.
If we don’t begin to protect the part of the marriage where the hurt takes place by focusing on healing that brings harmony, the hurt will not heal or may get worse.
Here are seven ways to work with God to bring harmony to your marriage.
Take thoughts captive.
Did you know that your thoughts are not fact? We can think things that are true, but just because we think them doesn’t make it true. Your thinking is how your brain makes sense of a circumstance. Confusion is not a state that our brain allows us to stay in for long, so it will come up with rationales concerning the circumstances. As we react to a perceived negative circumstance, we often attribute the worst possible cause. And because we are our own worst critics, the attribution is usually self-deprecating. Stop. Just stop. There is a more effective and empowering way of handling circumstances, even ones that seem out of control.
Be quick to forgive.
It’s a no-brainer. Carrying unforgiveness toward your spouse will undermine any harmony you’re trying to build. Unforgiveness then progresses into bitterness, and bitterness comes out in almost everything we do: our words, our actions, our thoughts. It will affect our motivations and thus affect our behavior.
John Bevere describes it this way in his devotional supplement of the book The Bait of Satan. “The fruit of offense, which includes hurt, jealousy, strife, anger, envy, bitterness, outrage, resentment, and hatred, causes people to be dysfunctional in their lives. Offended people hurt, and their understanding is darkened. They begin to judge others by assumptions, appearances, and hearsay.”
If you are easily offended, be quick to forgive. It is for your good not just the good of your spouse and others in your life.
What happens to someone when they feel that they are not heard? They tune out or lash out. We’ve all seen it. Maybe we’ve been on the receiving end. Maybe we’ve been on the giving end. I know I have. Keep these things in mind when listening intently:
- Reflect with understanding
- Encourage open engagement
- Summarize and affirm
Be patient & kind.
We are in a relationship not for ourselves but for the benefit of our spouse. It doesn’t feel like that is true all of the time, but if you realize the purpose of marriage and the fact that God makes a couple stronger than the sum of the individuals you will realize that this is true.
Above all LOVE.
We love because Christ first loved us. When you are hurt or when your spouse hurts you, do you stop and ask “How can I show my spouse love today?” Hard as it may be, that is a show of commitment to the relationship.
Become one in the eyes of God. There is power in agreement. Sometimes we don’t know how to agree. Maybe it is that you just have to agree to disagree. The point is you, as a couple, work to stay together, moving forward even when you don’t agree on a topic.
Joyce Meyer says: “The three-strand cord is a picture of the power that takes place when two people agree for something in line with God’s will for them. As two people become one in agreement with each other, there is a tremendous amount of power.”
One of the best ways to be unified is to pray together. Even if you don’t agree or feel like you’re on the same page, praying together can unite you as a couple by Grace that is unexplainable. For more on this topic, get the guide to praying together, Praying With Your Spouse, A Brief Guide.
Don’t go to bed angry.
If we’ve heard it once we’ve heard it a million times. But take heed. God will bless an effort to not go to bed angry. When you do, you give the devil a foothold and he is looking for those whom he may devour. Do whatever it takes to let go of your anger before you end your day.
Working on being married is one of the hardest and most rewarding things you will ever do. Be prepared for the bumps by putting these 7 things in place before you start rolling. God will honor your efforts to honor Him in your marriage. You’ll be glad you did.