Written by: Gay Idle
We all long to have a relationship with the one person with whom we will feel safe, secure, accepted, respected, cherished, wanted, and encouraged to be all we can be...shall I go on? Most seem to be either looking to find that ideal relationship or longing for it while feeling stuck in one that doesn't seem to live up to any of those expectations.
So many people I know see more faults than strengths in the person they have chosen to spend the rest of their life with. It's amazing to me that we can think positively in so many other areas of our lives…even giving most friends the courtesy of trying to think the best of them in the most trying of circumstances...yet when it comes to our spouse...we turn into "negative Nellie's". As a result, so many women, and men jump ship before really trying to figure out what is going on in their relationship.
If you want to have a good relationship, a ten...then don't be a five...what are you bringing to your relationship? Maybe we should put into practice the verse that is referred to as the golden rule..."Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Luke 6:31. As clinical psychologist, Dr. Henry Cloud says, " If we want the great things that relationships offer-like love, security, and growth-then we have to be capable of building love, providing security, and fostering growth. When we are, we can have the relationships we want. Until we are, great relationships will elude us.". That’ll preach! Imagine if we all took those words to heart and acted on them. All men and women...wow...can you imagine the results?
If you are single and looking for "the one", don't allow all of your energy to be focused on the pursuit. Your energy needs to be focused on "being" the one. Pay attention to the person you are becoming. Do you have healthy relationship skills, healthy coping skills? Work on developing skills that will give you the kind of relationship you want. Yes, it is important to find the right person, but if you are not the right person you will just bring the other one down to your level. "Relationships fail when the skills to make them work are not present in one or both of the people involved."~ Dr. Henry Cloud,
If you are married please know that I am not saying that if you work on yourself and practice treating your spouse the way you would want to be treated then all your marital problems will be solved. I know that it takes more than one to make marriage work. But you do have to start with you. In your relationship with your spouse, the only one you have control over is you.
I have said this many times as I have taught and counseled women throughout the years...we cannot be our husband’s Holy Spirit! Last time I checked that job has already been filled by One who is so much more capable and powerful in His influence than we could ever hope to be.
So what do we do?
Go humbly before God and ask for His wisdom and His knowledge in how best to grow in your relationship with God and in your relationship with your spouse. This is not a once-and-done deal. I’ve been praying for the entire 40 years of my marriage. I have learned that I can better love my spouse, and be more loveable when my relationship with God is my #1 priority.
Make sure you are taking the time to connect with each other. Communicate your thoughts, feelings, and needs honestly and take the time to listen to his needs. You don’t have to be in complete agreement on every issue. Pick your battles wisely and learn to agree to disagree when necessary.
Stop expecting your spouse to think the way you do. God created each of you to be unique in so many ways. Learn how those differences can complement one another instead of competing against one another. Side note: No one can read your mind…not even your spouse. You need to let them know how and what you are thinking. Assumptions can be the cause of many an argument.
Want to feel more connected to your spouse? Make a habit of expressing thankfulness to your spouse for those things they do that you appreciate. Focus on those positive aspects of your relationship. Gratefulness breeds contentment. It’s so easy to see the things in your spouse that drive you crazy…all the quirks and irritating habits, traits, etc…but if you don’t have the power to change those things (and you don’t), then quit pointing them out to them and to yourself. Practice gratitude. Sometimes we have to dig to find the gold, but unless you are married to a narcissistic psychopath…it’s there. Just keep digging.
Life happens…there will be lots of ups and downs. Just when you feel settled, you move. Just when you get used to having kids around all.the.time. They move out…and then you miss having them around.
Don’t stay stuck in past memories. Yes, revisit those memories from time to time. The good memories are nostalgic and the bad memories taught us lessons that were needed…but either way…don’t stay stuck in your memories. Move forward. Marriage is meant to be lived. All living things change. Adapting to change builds resilience in your marriage. Change brings adventure!
Not one of us operates in perfection. Mistakes happen. Sins are committed against one another. Slights occur. Grievances can be seared into our souls. I for one am so thankful that not only can I forgive, but I can be forgiven. We need to learn to let go of our grudges and work together to move forward. Forgiveness can be a hard issue. I’ve written an entire article about this…here’s an excerpt from the article entitled, Forgiveness…Why So Hard?
When you refuse to forgive you are giving the person who hurt you permission to hurt you all over again...in your mind, your memory. Every. single. time. you dredge up the offense you are allowing yourself to be hurt all over again. Bitterness becomes embedded into your heart and soul and becomes a heavy burden.
You see...when we forgive we are not letting the person get away with anything. We are not setting the offender free! It's okay to hold someone accountable that you have already forgiven. It is even okay, to set boundaries so that you cannot be wounded by that person in the same way again. However, it is NOT okay to hang onto the anger, bitterness, and hurt for the rest of your life.
Practice forgiveness with your spouse. Forgiveness restores marriages. Forgiveness restores your soul and gives you hope for a better future and opens the way for a deep and abiding love.
But…you may say, what if my spouse is not cooperating in all this?
Sometimes it’s necessary to take more extreme measures. So, with the help of godly counsel, we create the crisis that may be needed to nudge our spouse to wake up to the fact that they have married a daughter of the KING OF KINGS, who is worthy of his adoration, respect, love, protection...need I go on?
What are you looking for in order to be happy and content in your marriage? Where do you place all your expectations? On you, or your spouse? Should we be expecting our significant other to complete us?
My husband is fond of pointing out my very own words on this matter. Words I once blurted out to him earlier in our marriage in frustration, "I can't be your everything...I will never be the one to completely fulfill you, nor should I try to be...only God can do that."
Are you allowing God to fill in the empty spaces? Those spaces are God-shaped holes and no human being on this earth will ever be able to completely fill them up. So let your spouse off the hook and let God, in His perfect love and compassion, complete you.
"I have loved you with an everlasting love" ~ GOD (Jeremiah 31:3)
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