Loving Your Spouse with a Whole Heart
- Monday, April 13, 2009
- Avoid unhealthy actions like ignoring, suppressing, judging, or minimizing your feelings; viewing your feelings as facts; impulsively acting on them; or spewing them on others.
Figure out some healthy responses from which you could choose to manage any emotion that comes your way: taking deep breaths, praying, going for a walk, journaling, talking to a friend, cleaning your house, reading a book, etc.
Deal with a wounded heart. Life in this fallen world wounds you and your spouse’s hearts by attacking them with false messages (such as: “You’re not valuable”). The messages on your hearts affect how you see yourselves and how you interact with the world.
- Ask God to help you identify the false messages that have attacked your hearts and wounded them.
Does your heart make you feel: rejected, abandoned, disconnected, a failure, helpless, powerless, inadequate, inferior, invalidated, unloved, undesirable, worthless, judged, ignored, unimportant, misunderstood, disrespected, defective, or some other harmful message?
Then replace those lies with biblical truth.
- Search the Bible for specific verses that line up against the lies with which you’ve been struggling, and memorize those verses.
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to renew your mind so you can see yourself from God’s perspective and think right thoughts about yourself.
- Talk to some people you trust (such as friends, mentors, or a trained psychologist) for counsel and encouragement.
- Care for your heart by nurturing yourself (such as by maintaining a close prayer connection to God, nurturing healthy friendships, setting healthy boundaries in your life, journaling your feelings, eating whenever you’re hungry, and sleeping whenever you’re tired).
Deal with a fearful heart. Create an emotionally safe environment for you and your spouse to relate to each other, so both of you feel safe to truly open up and be known at a deep, intimate level. Each of you should be able to open and reveal who you really are and know that your spouse will still love, understand, accept, and value you no matter what.
- Avoid behaviors that erode trust, like:
criticism, angry reactions, threats, withdrawal, sarcasm, broken promises, nagging, judgment, harsh words, defensiveness, manipulation, teasing, deception, negative assumptions and jumping to conclusions, bringing up the past over and over, and refusing to forgive.
- Recognize your spouse’s value.
Ask God to help you honor your spouse -- no matter what – because he or she is God’s priceless gift to you and has a position in your life that’s worthy of great respect. Treat your spouse in valuable ways, such as by: praying for and with your spouse, listening to your spouse with your full attention, validating your spouse’s feelings, considering your spouse’s point of view, notice your spouse’s good qualities, thank your spouse for what he or she does for you, serve your spouse in ways that are meaningful for him or her, honor your spouse’s boundaries, spend lots of time with your spouse, be honest and trustworthy with your spouse, forgive your spouse, and reassure your spouse of your unconditional love for him or her.
Deal with an exhausted heart. If you don’t intentionally plan regular time with your spouse and time to recharge yourself, the busyness of life will take over and your marriage will suffer.
- Slow down the pace of your lifestyle and simplify your schedule.
Build in plenty of time for rest, reflection, and prayer. Learn when and how to say “no” to pursuits that don’t relate directly to your core values, so you’ll be free to focus on what’s most important and let the rest go.
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