Enjoy the Marriage of Your Dreams
- Saturday, March 19, 2005
Forgive your spouse. Understand that you must choose to forgive your spouse whenever he or she wrongs you, whether or not you feel like forgiving or you think that your partner deserves it. Know that since God has forgiven you of your own sins, He expects you to be willing to forgive others.
Rely on the Holy Spirit's help to go through the process of forgiveness, as often as your spouse hurts you. Realize that God doesn't expect you to forget the wrong or condone sinful actions, but He does expect you to release your spouse from ever repaying you or making the wrong right. Trust God to heal your wounds much better than a person could. Let God free you from the poisons of bitterness, rage, hatred, and vengeance.
Seek your spouse's forgiveness. Talk to your spouse gently and humbly. Remember that your approach sets of the tone of the conversation. Ask your spouse to let you know specific ways that you have hurt him or her. Acknowledge every aspect of your wrongdoing and commit to trying to do better in the future. Keep your focus on what you did to your spouse rather than on what your spouse did to you; clean up the only part of the mess for which you're responsible - your own behavior.
Learn to honor each other. Treat your spouse like the priceless treasure he or she is in God's eyes. Remind yourself that God made both you and your partner in His image and wants you to treat each other with dignity and respect.
Ask God to open your eyes to your partner's value. Make a list of all your partner's positive qualities. Believe in your spouse's dreams - including his or her legitimate dreams for your marriage - as you each deal with life's pressures. Encourage your spouse to express his or her opinions, concerns, and expectations.
Take good care of yourself. Remember that you can't give well to your spouse if you don't first take care of your own needs. Take care of your mind by regularly studying and gaining new knowledge. Take care of your body by getting enough exercise and sleep, eating a nutritious diet, and avoiding harmful addictions to things like cigarettes, alcohol, and caffeine. Take care of your spirit by praying regularly, participating in a biblical church, and studying the Bible, and constantly growing closer to God. Take care of your emotions by knowing what you're feeling when, and understanding how best to react to those feelings.
Think positive thoughts. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Ask yourself if you could have mistakenly interpreted your partner's actions in an overly negative way. Substitute a more reasonable response for the negative thought in question. Consider alternative explanations for what your spouse does.
Methodically focus on what your spouse does right. Understand that happiness is largely a choice, and you can make it.
Find treasures in your trials. Write down the most painful trails you've endured in your marriage. Then list all the benefits you've experienced as a result of those trials - ways God has used them to make you more mature. Remember that it's possible to find treasures in even the worst circumstances.
View conflict as a doorway to intimacy. Don't avoid conflict. Recognize that it can be a useful tool to build your marriage, if you and your spouse properly navigate it. When discussing an issue about which you disagree, take turns being the listener and the speaker. The listener should focus on the speaker's feeling and emotions, then repeat back what he or she heard for clarity, without editing, evaluating, or defending himself or herself.
The speaker should share needs or feelings using "I" statements rather than "You" statements that blame the listener. The speaker should stick to one subject and avoid bringing up past issues or starting a new argument. The speaker also should give bite-sized pieces of information that the listener can remember easily. When the speaker feels heard, understood, and validated and the listener has captured the essence of what has been said, you can switch roles.
Remember that you're both on the same team and will either lose or win together. Look for a win-win solution to the problem at hand.
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