Loving Your Spouse with a Whole Heart
- Monday, April 13, 2009
- Get rid of stuff that clutters your house and demands your time and energy to deal with it. Refuse to allow our culture’s standards to define your value by what you look like, what you do, or what you own.
- Find your true value in the fact that God has made you and redeemed you, and He loves you.
Ask God to help you become whole and full emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically so you’ll have the energy and resources necessary to love your spouse fully and unconditionally.
Fight for your spouse’s heart. Conflict is inevitable in marriage. But it doesn’t have to harm your relationship; it can actually strengthen it. If you and your spouse respond to conflict in a healthy way, conflict will become the doorway to intimacy between you because it will deepen your understanding of each other.
- Consider how both you and your spouse tend to react to conflict now.
Responding with “fight” behavior – defensiveness, anger, going into fix-it mode, escalation, criticism, sarcasm, blame, or belittling comments – won’t promote the intimate connections you want to make. Neither will responding with “flight” behavior: withdrawal, negative beliefs, shut-down mode, isolation, numbing out, over-functioning, stonewalling, or passive-aggressive behavior.
- Instead of becoming your spouse’s adversary in conflict and causing your hearts to close to each other, open your hearts to God.
Pray for the ability to embrace, appreciate, and deal with you and your spouse’s differences in healthy ways. Ask God to show you what emotional buttons your spouse is pushing through the conflict and how that makes you feel. Also ask God to reveal how you’re pushing your spouse’s emotional buttons through the conflict. Then pray for the power you need to gain control over the conflict and use it to accomplish something constructive in your relationship.
Care for your spouse’s heart. Your spouse has an amazingly valuable and incredibly vulnerable heart, just as you do.
- Keep the promise you made in your wedding vows to care for each other.
- Communicate to understand by agreeing on when it’s a good time to talk, agreeing on the goal of each conversation (connecting emotionally, or trying to fix something), and checking during the conversation to make sure you’re still both staying on track and understanding each other.
- Avoid communication pitfalls, such as trying to figure out: who is right or wrong, who is to blame or at fault, and what was said or what really happened.
- Avoid destructive behaviors like: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. During difficult interactions, say to your spouse: “Help me understand” so he or she knows you truly care.
- Ask God to open the eyes of your heart toward your spouse and give you compassion for him or her.
- Respect how valuable and vulnerable your spouse’s heart is by treating it gently.
- Set aside your temptation to blame your spouse and focus on simply caring for him or her instead.
- Express empathy (“I feel what you’re feeling, and I want to share in your joy or pain.”) and validation (“What you’re feeling matters to me and you matter to me.”) toward your spouse.
Speak to your spouse’s heart. Give your spouse words of encouragement every day.
- Honor, motivate, and call out your spouse’s spiritual gifts and natural talents.
- Find out what wounds and fear your spouse is struggling with, and what you can say to encourage your spouse to pursue healing.
- Consider people’s most common intimacy needs – acceptance, affection, appreciation, approval, attention, comfort, encouragement, respect, security, and support – and do what you can to help meet your spouse’s intimacy needs through your marriage.
- Understand people’s love languages – words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch – and express your love for your spouse in ways that best speak his or her specific love language.
Celebrate with your spouse’s heart. Bring fun and laughter into your marriage often. Humor increases intimacy, reduces stress, and increases positive emotions. Intentionally turn toward your spouse each day to help prevent drifting apart. Spend as much time as you can together.
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