By Dr. David B. Hawkins, Crosswalk.com
My wife and I have a “contest” going between us. Please understand that we are not keeping score and the “winner” never gloats. Perhaps it’s better to think of this as an understanding we have to enrich our marriage and rescue us from getting stuck in any kind of squabble.
Before I describe our “contest” I want to set the stage.
My wife Christie and I enjoy our marriage. More specifically, we enjoy the smile that happens internally when we are connected to each other, out-giving the other and showing special acts of grace. We bask in the glow of knowing we are loved by, and love, each other.
Conversely, we don’t enjoy conflict that most often stems from selfishness. We don’t relish “winning over the other,” knowing that such action costs a great deal in the form of distance and tension. Perhaps you are like Christie and I, enjoying closeness and loving connection far more than being right, “winning”, or silencing the other with our indomitable spirit.
To this end we decided we would always strive to be the first to apologize, admit wrong, and generally practice humility. We would seek opportunities to reach out to the other after a tense moment, a more protracted conflict, or time of tension. In short, we agreed to make an all-out effort to be at peace with one another.
Currently my wife is winning in our contest, as far as I’m concerned. She just made a phone call to me thanking me for helping her this morning. Her kindness brings that inner smile, that warmth of knowing I am loved and love.
Would you like to have such a contest in your marriage? Here are a few more suggestions:
First, make a goal of “forgiving first”. Consider sitting down with your mate and agreeing to be intentional about quickly resolving matters and offering forgiveness routinely. Be quick to apologize and admit wrongdoing, focusing on yourself and your part in a matter. Be first to forgive and to reset after a time of tension.
Second, cultivate a heart of humility. Forgiveness and resetting come from a humble heart. Pride is the destroyer of connection whereas humility brings us together. Humility allows us to see our weaknesses and to seek help for them. Pride causes us to focus on the wrong of our mate.
Third, reset to a positive attitude. Resentment grows where we rehearse wrongs done to us. It is easy to slide into a bad attitude where resentment and bitterness take hold. Be quick to forgive and reset to a positive attitude. Guard against anger and narrow-mindedness.
Fourth, remember the good in your mate. See the best in your mate. Remember and notice what he/she does for you that is good and praiseworthy. Notice how they care about you and what you like about them. Cultivate a positive attitude and a view of your mate that is good.
Finally, dwell on the Word of God. The Word of God has the power to change our lives. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and intentions and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) If you want to change the direction of your marriage, practice these five steps, paying special attention to reading God’s word and inviting God to change your heart.
Are you ready to offer your mate a friendly challenge? Determine that you will both be quick to offer apologies for wrongdoing and accepting apologies from your mate. If you would like further help, we are here for you. Please send responses to me at [email protected] and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website and learn about our Personal and Marriage Intensives as well as our newly formed Subscription Group, Thrive, for women struggling from emotional abuse.
Photo credit: ©Pexels/Luis Quintero