Growth in marriage sometimes requires us to take a step back in order to move forward in a fresh direction. When we see a negative cycle spinning out of control in our relationship it can be easy to want to throw all we have into “fixing” the problem. Even worse, we can run away feeling defeated and powerless to change the broken spaces in our relationships. While taking action is important (it’s never wise to ignore red flags in our marriages) sometimes the most powerful thing we can do is to take a step back just to pause and invite God into our mess. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Our mysterious God reminds us that he does his best work when we step aside and take a posture of still surrender in his presence.
This space isn’t the I’m-so-fed-up-with-you-I-never-want-to-talk-again kind of space. It is you as a spouse intentionally choosing to be still. It’s in these moments of stillness we are reminded that God is the one that empowers us to be the spouses we are called to be! It is in the stillness we realize our marriages are more than just about us and our needs, but a place that we can live out the Bible’s call to “serve one another with love” (Galatians 5:13).
It is in this moment of humble prayerful invitation, or sometimes desperate cries for help to our capable and big God, that we can have the grace to step back and allow the waters of your relationship to calm. When we relinquish our rights and our control and realize that God is the only one able to heal the damaged spaces between us, we are also free to stop poking and pestering one another over the same old failures. We are free to begin to forgive each other for the mounting hurts that want to tear you apart.
Remember the Beginning
Being still may look like not pointing out every flaw or choosing to extend grace when things don’t go as planned rather than fighting to be right. It can even look like turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:38-40). Biblical marriage is one filled with humility, sacrificial love, and forgiveness.
Falling in love didn’t require deep investigations of one another. Love comes easily and in the tender moments of acceptance between people. Love flourishes when we feel safe, nurtured, known, cared for, and protected. Love is best felt through fun, laughter, and lighthearted exchanges. Remember back to the start of your marriage when what now drives you crazy was something you loved about them. You loved how “easy going” they were but now you can’t stand how lazy they are. Somehow at the start, it is so much easier to see the positives in our spouses and overlook the things that may “need improvement.”
Lean into Jesus
This retreat could also look like leaning into Jesus rather than dumping all your hurt onto each other. Instead of exclaiming how lonely you are to your spouse another fruitless time, make the choice to cry out to the Lord, asking Him to meet your needs. God never tires of hearing out our hearts and is the only one who can truly meet all of our needs. Many times, our spouses are not capable of giving us what we are searching for. We begin to resent them for their inability to meet a need that only God has the power to fully satisfy.
1 John 4:19 tells us that we love because He first loved us. In our stillness, we can ask God to give us renewed ability to love our spouses, even in the moments we feel they may not deserve it. Choosing to love in any situation is an act of holy obedience to God. When we rely on our own strength, we all run out of the strength we need to love our spouses well. It’s essential that we tap back into the Holy Spirit because he is the ultimate well of love.
Being still helps to calm the anxiety that can tear away the joy in our relationship. When we stop and soak in the knowledge that a loving God is holding our marriage and lives together, we find peace. Being still brings rest to our hearts that spills over into the way we interact with one another. When we go through our daily lives with a God-given calm, we can begin to change the climate of a tense home.
Embrace the Stillness
When we embrace stillness, we make room for creativity. If we need a new solution to an old problem, creativity is required! Pausing, stepping back, and seeking God... the one who restores our souls and our great healer...makes room for God-inspired creative problem solving to arise to the surface.
Reflection and retreat cultivate the soil of our hearts for new life to begin. It allows dormant buds to sprout back to life in the dead corners of our souls. God can shine through what once looked like a fault line of our lives together. When we step back, He can step in and be exalted through His redemption story being told in your life.
If you are in need of a new direction God invites you to take a moment and pause before searching out one more self-help article. He wants you to go to him before throwing up your hands in defeat or before packing that beg out of anger. There is a different option, that includes the miraculous marriage healing power of God! It goes against our every instinct to run, defend, justify, or fix. God prompts us to be still in his presence, to remember that God is in control of all the threads that make up your life together, and invite him in to do the restorative work that only he can do. Seek him first and then find that new path forward together.
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Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.