Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Best Thing I Did for My Marriage

With a small budget and plans to completely re-decorate the master bedroom in a year or two we decided to go with simple, inexpensive decorations to get us by. I found some wall art that said “always kiss me goodnight”. I thought it was sweet, and since I agreed with the message, I decided it would be suitable to go above our bed. 

I never expected to be staring at it one night trying to figure out how to take it down without ruining the walls. I didn’t really want to take it down, but I certainly did not feel like kissing him goodnight, and I needed a way to express my anger. We had had a disagreement and I felt hurt, annoyed, and confused. 

The conversation started out like any other conversation, but it started to unravel as we began misunderstanding each other, thinking selfishly, and refusing to shut our big mouths.  We were not listening to God, and we were not listening to each other. We were allowing our emotions and selfishness to take center stage. This obviously did not end well. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Having good communication is essential in every marriage and relationship. However, sometimes that communication does not involve talking. There are times when we simply need to listen, there are times when we need to speak up, and there are times when we need to reach down deep and find words of kindness and love despite how bitter we may be feeling.

Life is complicated and people are confusing. That is why, no matter how well you know and love someone, it is still inevitable that your communication will go down the drain at some point.  

In my younger years I used to use the phrase “when all else fails, pray” quite a bit. Now, I could not disagree with this more. Prayer should not come as a last resort. Instead, it should come first. When prayer comes first, there is no last resort. 

In Mark 11:24-25 Jesus writes: “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.  And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” 

This Bible verse, which has no direct correlation to verbal communication with your spouse, has had a life changing impact on my marriage.  I would be lying if I said we never have disagreements; however, they happen far less often than they used too. 

Whenever I am having ill feelings towards my husband, no matter how big or small, I reach for this verse and go to God in prayer. This verse first reminds me to forgive my husband for whatever it is I am holding against him, and that likewise, God is forgiving me for having the ill feelings. Then, He reminds me to believe with all my heart and soul that whatever I am asking God for, I will receive. 

When I do these 3 things: forgive my husband, know that I am forgiven, and believe that what I ask for will be given to me, I immediately feel better. Sometimes God shows me that I am really the problem and need to be the one to change. Other times, I feel God telling me to remain silent and allow God to work through my husband. There are still times when, after prayer, I do approach my husband with my concerns and I find that my head is clearer and I am better able to understand the complexity of the issue. 

When I look back on that night when I wanted to rip apart our wall art, I realize what the problem was. God wasn’t there. Technically He was there, because He is everywhere all the time. However, I was not open to receiving his wisdom, grace, and love. I was running on my own batteries which consisted of selfishness, emotions, and lack of self-control. 

You might be wondering, did we end up kissing each other goodnight? Yes, we did, but only by the grace of God and humor. When my husband came upstairs to apologize he found me with my hair dryer attached to an extension cord trying to peel off the letter A. It was such a ridiculous sight that he started laughing, and I did too. 

Our marriage is not perfect, and it never will be. However, since tapping into some of God’s most helpful marriage advice, we kiss each other goodnight, every night.

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