Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Gary and Greg Smalley's book, The Heart of Remarriage(Regal Books, 2010).

 

If you've suffered a divorce or death of a spouse, you've gone through a significant loss.  Having had your emotions churned up so strongly by your previous marital loss, you know the importance of emotional security if you decide to marry again.  But a remarriage, and the stepfamily that often comes with it, brings even more emotional baggage to manage.  So it's especially important that you learn how to create emotional security after you remarry.  If you rely on God's help to do so, you and your new spouse can enjoy a close relationship and healthy marriage.

Here's how you can create emotional security after you remarry:

Recognize that the state of your marriage depends on the state of your heart.  If your heart is closed, you can't build the kind of relationships with God and your spouse that you need to enjoy a healthy marriage.  But if your heart is open, God will pour His love into it, giving you an endless supply of love that will overflow, empowering you to love your spouse in all circumstances.  So avoid closing your heart and watch out for the warning signs of a heart that's closing: emotional distance or unavailability, apathy or lack of interest, lethargy, selfishness, insensitivity, harshness, meanness, and cruelty.  Pray daily for God's help to overcome hurts and fears so you can keep your heart open, and be aware of these signs of an open heart: connectedness, involvement, interest, focus, attentiveness, energy, passion, unselfishness, considerateness, thoughtfulness, sensitivity, compassion, empathy, gentleness, kindness, and tenderness.

Give your spouse unconditional love and respect.  Ask God to help you accept your spouse for who he or she really is - not who you'd like him or her to be - and to love and respect your spouse no matter what.  This will encourage your spouse to do the same for you, which will create plenty of emotional security in your marriage.

Expect conflict and handle it with care.  Recognize that conflict is a natural and normal part of any relationship, and especially marriage.  The key is handling conflict wisely when you and your spouse encounter it.  Learn how to listen to each other well and handle each other's thoughts and feelings with genuine interest and care.  Then you'll both know that you're loved, which will motivate you to seek solutions to your problems.

Take good care of yourself.  Take care of your own spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical needs so you'll be healthy enough to care well for your spouse, children, and stepchildren.  Maintain a close connection with God through prayer every day.  Quickly forgive those who hurt or offend you—such as your former spouse, if you've been divorced—so bitterness won't poison your soul.  Recognize your own God-given value and accept sincere compliments and affirmations from other people.  Develop relationships with a few trusted mentors to help you mature as a person.  Learn how to identify your emotions in various situations and pay attention to what your feelings are trying to tell you.  Replace lies you've come to believe about yourself (such as that you're not good enough or that you're powerless) with biblical truths that you memorize.  Don't allow other people's opinions to be the truth in your life; always look to God as the source of truth.  Ask God to show you the positive ways you've grown from the painful death or divorce you've endured, such as becoming more humble, compassionate, courageous, and strong.  Set relationship boundaries when necessary so you can avoid unnecessary emotional trauma and keep your heart open.