Create Emotional Security After You Remarry
- 2010 16 Nov
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.
Have faith in two key beliefs that will keep you satisfied in marriage. Your spouse can't complete you; only God can. So realize that a loving relationship with God and His power in you to love and serve others is far superior to the belief that you need to gain more pleasure or have more fun. Understand that bad times are good for you, since all the difficulties and conflicts you face in your remarriage help you grow into a better person.
Treat your spouse like the valuable person God has made him or her to be. Speak words that are helpful, encouraging, affirming, and loving to your spouse, and avoid speaking hurtful words. Honor your spouse through your daily actions, such as doing chores or errand to serve your spouse, giving your spouse physical affection, listening carefully when your spouse talks, helping your spouse reach his or her personal goals.
Deal with your needs as a remarried husband. As a remarried husband, you need respect from your wife, so communicate that to her. It's crucial that you express your anger only in healthy ways and pursue healing for any destructive anger patterns. Ask God to help you fully embrace your wife's love and let down your emotional guard completely with her so you can love her fully. Work with your wife on ways to build a mutually satisfying sex life. Invest in friendships with other men who will encourage you and hold you accountable.
Deal with your needs as a remarried wife. Look to God to meet your love needs when your husband lets you down; remember that your husband is an imperfect person just like you, and only God can give you enough love to fulfill you. So make your top priority your relationship with God through Christ. Discover and fulfill all of God's purposes for you, including those that go beyond your role as a spouse. In your marriage, be your husband's partner rather than a dependent. But keep in mind that your husband craves respect, you communicate that to him regularly through your voice, facial expressions, words, and actions.
Be a faithful stepparent. As a stepfather or stepmother, keep in mind the many losses that your stepchildren have gone through and ask God to help you be gentle and loving with them as you all adjust to a new life together. Be available to spend time with them and have fun with them whenever possible, but don't force them into a closer relationship than what they're comfortable building with you. Leave the primary discipline to their biological parents; simply help your spouse out as needed and requested. Pray for your stepchildren often and remain committed to loving them no matter what.
Adapted from The Heart of Remarriage, copyright 2010 by Gary and Greg Smalley. Published by Regal Books, a division of Gospel Light, Ventura, Ca., http://www.gospellight.com/books-all.html.
Gary Smalley is president and founder of the Smalley Relationship Center, which presents conferences nationwide and provides resources for families and family churches. Combined, his books has sold more than six million copies. The Blessing and The Two Sides of Love won the Gold Medallion Award for excellence in literature, and The Language of Love won the Angel Award for best contribution to family life.
Greg Smalley has a passion to help premarital and married couples learn how to enjoy a lifetime together. Dr. Smalley is the Director of Marriage Ministries for the Center for Relationship Enrichment on the campus of John Brown University, and assistant professor of marriage and family studies. Dr. Smalley is the author or coauthor of 10 books, including The Wholehearted Marriage; Before You Plan Your Wedding, Plan Your Marriage; The DNA of Relationships for Couples; The Marriage You've Always Dreamed Of; Men's Relational Toolbox; Winning Your Wife Back, and Winning Your Husband Back. Greg and his wife, Erin, along with their three daughters—Taylor, Maddy, and Annie—and son, Garrison, live in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.