How to Let Love Build Up Your Marriage
By: Amanda Idleman
Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. - 1 Corinthians 8:1 NIV
Knowledge focuses on winning and being right. It focuses ultimately on you. Love, however, builds up the people in your life.
Paul wrote this passage in response to a dispute about what foods were acceptable to eat for the new church in Corinth. Many were concerned about eating meat because it was common practice to sacrifice this meat to the pagan gods. These new Christians felt it was wrong to consume this defiled meat.
Through this insightful passage, Paul instructs the church of Corinth that the real issue is not the meat at all; it’s about not being a stumbling block to each other. Ultimately, he’s saying it’s about showing love and building each other up. Our personal feelings about the “rightness” or “wrongness” of this meat is secondary.
How often do we get hung up on the “meat” in our marriages? We feel justified in suppressing our spouse’s thoughts and feelings because our conscious tells us that we are right! How can we be “right” in the eyes of God if our path to righteousness in our relationship is to bulldoze our spouses into submission along the way?
We have nothing if we don’t have love. How many hours of arguments would be saved if we could catch what Paul is trying to show us! When we live with love, our relationships come first and our opinions come last.
I am so guilty of this in my own marriage. I too often come to my husband hoping to force him into seeing that my way is the right way. I passionately advocate for myself, fanning the flames of conflict, rather than seeking to first love my husband.
The funny thing is that loudly pushing my way forward never seems to work in converting him. The middle ground of unity is only found when we approach one another with humility. This is why Paul begins this chapter with this reminder about posture before really talking about the details of the conflict he is hoping to resolve. He knows that the details aren’t the true issue at hand, it’s the way we approach each other that really matters.
How can we build each other up when we face issues we may disagree on?
First, be willing to hear each other out. When we interject or talk over each other we are saying that we don’t value the point-of-view our spouses bring to a situation. The simple act of offering a listening ear shows your spouse that their words matter to you.
Summarize and affirm them! Offering a short recap of what you just heard them say helps to make sure you are on the same page. It also says you really want to internalize their thoughts on the matter. Let them know through words of affirmation that their thoughts and feelings are important to you.
Now it’s time to share your view on them matter. Open and kind communication lets them know that you trust them. Building each other up isn’t about never giving an opinion; it’s about being willing to collaborate before jumping to make a judgment call.
Once you’ve both shared, it’s time to find the path to common ground together. Invite your spouse to help you find a solution to your situation. In the end, if it’s an issue that is going to remain a stumbling block to one of you, then follow Paul’s lead and avoid that activity in respect of the one it offends.
Remember, the next time you face a conflict in your marriage- it’s not about the meat. It’s about your relationship and finding a path forward that genuinely shows love for one another. What a transformational way to approach each other; always being reminded that love builds up.
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She creates devotions for the Daily Bible Devotions App, she has work published with Her View from Home, is contributing to a couples devotional for Crosswalk, and is a regular contributor for the marriage/family/homeschool/parenting channels on Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda at rvahouseofjoy.com or follow her on Instagram at rvahouseofjoy.
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