Delighting in your spouse can be a real challenge… but of course, you know that.
It’s a challenge because stuff happens in marriage, stuff that strains your relationship and causes hard feelings between you.
Betrayal, arguments, disagreements about kids or finances, extended family tensions, physical issues, irritating habits… all of these can put the two of you on opposite sides, and put a strain on your relationship.
When that happens long enough, it can seem impossible to delight in your wife or husband. There’s too much water under the bridge, too many hurt feelings, too many unresolved conflicts. It feels hopeless to dream of things ever getting better.
What do you do when it’s that hard to delight in your spouse?
God’s got some pretty simple, but “non-easy” prescriptions for resolving these kinds of issues. They require you to commit yourself to doing WHATEVER IT TAKES to make things right, improve your relationship, and get past the past.
Here are some of the vital things God says you have to do in order to regain that delight in your spouse…
1. Talk about the issue(s).
Matthew 18 tells us that when a “brother” (fellow Christian) offends us, we are to go to them. This passage is typically used to instruct church members on how to handle large-scale problems within their church community. But that’s only one application. If you read the passage carefully, you can see that it’s talking about a situation where individuals are experiencing a sin or offense between them, and it gives specific steps to follow.
- Go to the person you are at odds with
- Bring up the issue (doing so in a humble way goes a long way)
- Ask to work out the issue
THAT is about as practical as it gets, and as applicable to marriage as it can be. If you and your spouse are at odds over anything, the first thing you need to do is talk about it.
BUT, given how conflict-averse our culture is, this step, though very, very simple, is extremely hard to do. It takes courage and it takes a commitment to obedience to what God says.
That’s where a counselor or third-party might be helpful. In fact, many couples who have years of built up tension between them will not be able to get anywhere without a third-party who can wisely help them walk through the issue.
If the issues you’re trying to navigate are repeated and very long standing, you might need something a bit more intense. But your marriage is worth it, believe me.
But you can’t do it unless the following are true:
- Both of you are truly willing to work things out
- Both of you are humble, ready to admit your own wrongs in the situation
- You are both willing to do WHATEVER IT TAKES
2. Commit yourself to believing that God will do what He says He will do, if you do your part.
The scriptures teach husbands and wives how they are to relate to their spouses (Ephesians 5:25 & Ephesians 5:22-23) . These instructions have nothing to do with how anyone feels and they have nothing to do with whether your partner is doing “their part” or not. They are steps of obedience you take, believing that God will honor the trust you are placing in Him, and bring about a good (even miraculous) result.
Let’s be honest, that is hard. But absolutely necessary.
You cannot expect God to do things your way. He is God. He will not be pressed into your mold. He is the one who is going to bring the healing and resolution to your marriage relationship, and He does it His way, or not at all.
So, get your mind around this fact: You have to trust God, that if you do what you are supposed to do, He’ll do what only He can do.
But there are some important things to keep in mind:
- God works on His own time frame. Trust Him to do His work when HE believes it to be best.
- God works out all things for His glory and your good (Romans 8:28). That includes bad things. So you can expect that in the process of moving in the right direction, God will bring some hard, potentially “bad” things (in your mind) into the mix. But continue to trust Him. He gets greater glory and you’ll have greater joy, because of your endurance and faith (Romans 5:4).
- The results God brings may not (probably won’t) look like what you are expecting. But know this, God’s work on your behalf is the best. He’s trustworthy, and will be for you.
Preventative maintenance goes a long way…
Maybe your situation doesn’t sound so extreme. Maybe you’ve got a few unresolved things, but nothing major.
I can tell you, the greatest thing you can do is to prevent yourself from getting there. Your marriage will be richer because of it, and your ability to delight in your wife (or husband) will grow as a result.
So what do you do?
1. See point 1 above.
2. See point 2 above.
3. Set aside time to talk regularly.
I’d love to hear your feedback below.by