Every child knows that there are three things they can do when confronted about their attitude or behaviour. They can try to deny it; they can blame something or someone else; or they can admit to it.
Denying something that is clearly your fault doesn’t get you anywhere in marriage, because it doesn’t resolve the issue. Blaming your spouse or somebody else is even more damaging, because it offloads your responsibility unfairly onto your partner. So the only sensible thing to do when you’ve blown it is to admit your failure and ask for forgiveness.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15.) NLT.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. (James 5:16.) NLT.
Of course that begs two questions:
i.) Will I do what I can to correct the situation?
ii.) Will the forgiveness being offered be genuine?
Question one is important because just admitting to something over and over again, but not doing anything to correct it is very frustrating for your partner. Even if he/she wants to forgive and move on they can’t, because they know it’s going to happen again.
It’s like continually peeling the scab off an old wound; it just never heals. So you must make sure that you are doing more that just admitting to things. You must be growing, maturing, changing and correcting things that are unhealthy in your relationship.
Question two is also important because it can hinder your spouse from freely admitting their fault (or failure) to you – if they think you would hold it against them for life. Or if they think that you would use the information they give you as a weapon of shame.
Consequently, it is crucial that when you say, “I forgive you”, you really mean it. You wipe the slate clean and you see any new offence as a new offence, not a continuation of old offences. Learn to offer genuine forgiveness whenever your spouse asks to be forgiven.
Forgiveness is such an important part of marriage because it keeps communication flowing in both directions. It reminds us of our humanity. It qualifies us to ask for God’s forgiveness too. And, it shows that we are growing and maturing relationally and spiritually.
If you and your spouse would endeavour to follow these guidelines, you would be healthier emotionally, physically and even spiritually. Everything will be out in the open and there would be no need to allow offences to fester in the dark recesses of your mind or your heart.
Forgiveness does not change the past, but it enlarges the future – Paul Boese.
8. Look for Ways to Build Up Your Spouse Verbally.
We’ve already seen that the words we speak to each other are important. Understand that words are like containers. We use them to convey ideas, thought and requests. But words do much more than that: they impact life-changing values, virtues, graces, gifts and abilities that can’t always be quantified.
The Bible goes even further to tell us that the powers to give life and extinguish it are invested in our words. The tongue can bring death or life; and those who love to talk will reap the consequences. (Proverbs 18:21.)
Just imagine that for a moment: You can decree death to a person or situation; or you can breathe life to that person or situation. I’ll say it again because the implication of this truth is huge. You can decree ‘death’ to a person or situation; or you can breathe ‘life’ to that person or situation.
That being the case, it should be obvious that you are meant to use your words to build your partner up and not to tear him/her down. Well, how do you do that?
You build your spouse up by:
- Being a constant Encourager to him/her.
- Finding and highlighting the things they do well.
- Affirming to him/her that they are special and loved dearly.
- Validating the support and effort they put into the relationship.
- Speaking positively and approvingly about them to outsiders.
- Praising him/her regularly for the way they look, dress, work, help, provide, care, cook, look after the children, pay the bills, etc. etc.
We live in a society that’s all but starved of uplifting and encouraging experiences. The news is almost always bad. Work is almost always stressful. The economy is almost always depressed. And, life is almost always rough and bumpy.
Therefore, make it your aim to build up your partner and to bring out the best in him/her. When you do that, you are making a positive difference to your partner’s destiny. Furthermore, you are honouring God’s plan and purpose for your marriage.
If you do discipline yourself to do these things in good times and in difficult times, you will not fail to have an upbeat home and a rock solid marriage. You will even begin to look more attractive to each other, because uplifted people blossom beautifully within and without.
When life hands you a lemon, find a way to turn it into lemonade – Dale Carnegie
...To be continued next week.
Extracts from KEYS TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE...
Written by Pastor Tony Peters.