Taking each other for granted.
Have you ever experienced those things in your marriage?
The enemy loves to come against marriages because two people who are united on God’s Word are a powerful force for righteousness. When God created marriage, He designed it to be an incredible blessing to you! Unfortunately, many times we allow the circumstances of life to steal the joy out of this significant partnership.
One of the most common questions I get about marriage is, “What do I do if my spouse is not on the same page with me spiritually? How do I encourage them toward God?”
Staying obedient to God and His Word while also maintaining peace in your marriage can be one of the greatest challenges when your spouse is not a believer, but it’s a battle worth fighting.
Mark 3:25 says, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” That’s the enemy’s plan. He wants to make your marriage a place of stress, strife, and disagreement, so he can get a foothold into your life.
You and your spouse may not be in agreement today, but you can be. Don’t give up. No situation is too hopeless when you bring the power of God into it. When you allow God to work in your marriage, He will give you the tools you need to thrive despite the setbacks.
Understanding Your Husband
We have all been guilty at times of trying to change our spouses. When you are with somebody 24/7, whether that spouse is a believer or not, it’s easy to start focusing on the flaws you see.
I’ve learned the hard way that God doesn’t put us with our spouses so we can “fix” them. A healthy relationship can’t exist when one person views the other as a personal project, instead of an equal partner.
God gives us our spouses so we can refine ourselves—not the other way around!
If we really want to change our spouses, we have to accept the fact that we can’t change them. Only God can. It’s not our responsibility to try to uncover their weaknesses, or to approach them with guilt, condemnation, or judgment. We have to give God access to do His work instead of us trying to do ours.
In the meantime, we can pray and ask God to give us the understanding and knowledge to see things from their perspective, and the patience to love our spouses as they grow in their relationship with God as we continue to grow in ours. Release your spouse to God and commit to working on yourself, becoming the best person you can to honor that relationship.
How to Introduce God
In our excitement and passion for God, it can be tempting to preach to our spouses. Nobody wants to receive a gift that’s wrapped in condescension, shame, and criticism. I always encourage people to let their lifestyle be their testimony. You can preach at somebody all day, but your actions speak louder than your words. The best way for us to share the good news of Christ is to look for opportunities to show the same love Jesus showed, and then provide answers as people become open to hearing them. Here are 3 steps you can take on the journey:
1. Turn to Father God.
God’s direction will give you the encouragement and power to surpass your problems. God’s grace is powerful in you, and with Him, you can overcome. No situation is too hopeless when you bring the power of God into it.
When you cry out to God, He’s going to speak to you. It’s up to you to listen and simply obey His Word and allow Him to reveal answers to you. When God gives you His Word, you have to believe it and step out on that Word. Choose to obey and trust Him, even if it means giving up a couple of time commitments and refocusing your priorities to get your family to a healthy place. You have to move toward prayer and peace for your family.
3. Remember who you should be fighting.
Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that our enemy is not flesh and blood, but the rulers of the darkness of this world. No matter what you’re dealing with in your marriage, don’t forget that your spouse isn’t the enemy.
Share God’s Love
Sharing God’s love is not only our mission as believers, but also it’s our first ministry to our spouse. We are called to love unconditionally.
So what does it really mean to love like Jesus loved?
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul tells us that loving without agenda looks like patience. It looks like kindness. It isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it doesn’t dishonor others, it isn’t self-seeking, it isn’t easily angered, and it doesn’t keep a record of other people’s wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes for the best, and always perseveres. Love isn’t just how we treat people; it’s how we choose to SEE people.
When we look at Paul’s definition of love, how do we measure up?
Every day we should strive to possess the unconditional love that Jesus demonstrated toward others. The great news is we don’t have to do it in our strength; God gave us His ability, so we could learn to love like Him. As you commit to show the love of God to your spouse, you can start with this prayer:
I trust you, and I refuse to allow fear, worry, self-pity, or anger to control me. Instead, I choose to rest in you and to work on the areas you show me. Give me wisdom to love my spouse without words and to demonstrate my faith by my actions. Help me become their companion, lover, and encourager. Help them rely on you and believe your promises for our life, marriage, and finances, in Jesus’s name.
I am full of joy and peace as I trust in you and grow in grace. I am loved. I am accepted and complete in you. My worth and identity are in you. I am free. I trust confidently in you. I am not alone. You never leave me nor forsake me. I can do all things through Christ because you strengthen me. Strength and dignity are my clothing!
I speak words of life over my spouse, our marriage, our family, and myself! God’s grace is sufficient to see me through this time. I believe I receive it now, in Jesus’s name!
Couple’s Devotional Suggestion
One of the most powerful tools you can apply to your marriage is learning and growing together. It might be cliché if I tell you the couple that prays together stays together, but it is true. Seeking God as a couple is an essential key to a healthy marriage. When we put a priority on prayer in our marriages, it allows us to hear God’s direction for our lives.
Deuteronomy 31:8 tells us God has already gone ahead of us and made a way for us. All we have to do is trust Him and listen for His voice! Even though we can’t always see the reward up front, following God’s Word always pays off in the end.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” God is on our side. He wants what is best for our lives; we can trust Him with our dreams and desires.
There may be times when God asks us to do something that doesn’t make sense to us, but since we know God’s heart is for us, we can confidently step out in obedience. God sees the bigger picture—He knows the beginning from the end. We may only see a small part of the equation, but God’s Spirit can direct us around obstacles in our relationships and lives.
A Healthy Marriage is Possible
It’s not time to quit. God created you for something special. He created you to make a difference. Don’t give up on God’s plan for your marriage just because you’re afraid, or because you face obstacles or hurdles. You have to believe what God says about you—that you CAN do it. (Link to YOU CAN series)
Whether it’s the emotional, financial, or communication skills to make a marriage work, or something else, most couples come into marriage missing something they need. God can supply what you need and train you in your marriage. If you and your spouse came into marriage missing a lot of things, or you let go of some things along the way—wisdom, maturity, humility, passion, communication—it’s not too late to ask God to bring that into your marriage!
You are wonderfully made, loved, created with purpose, forgiven, and accepted—and it has nothing to do with what you’ve done or what you’ll do. It has to do with what Jesus did 2,000 years ago. He set your value at the highest price when He gave His life for you. And no matter how anyone else perceives you, you can hold your head up high knowing that there was one Man who was willing to give everything for you.
Would you like more keys to discovering a happier you? To get them, along with powerful tools for managing emotions, completely free, download chapter one of my book, Better Than You Feel HERE!
Q & A
How do I start a relationship with God?
Salvation is a free gift; all you have to do is ask! Romans 10:10 says, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Starting a relationship with God is as easy as believing in your heart that Jesus is Lord and asking Him into your life.
What should I do when I make a mistake in my marriage?
We all make mistakes. In fact, Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” When we do, the important thing is that we make it right. We don’t have to feel condemned or ruined by what we’ve done in our past. That’s why Jesus paid the price for our sins 2,000 years ago! If we confess our sins to God, He is faithful to forgive us and give us a fresh start.
How do I forgive my spouse for hurting my feelings?
First, pray. Pray and ask God to help you sort through your hurt. Hurt usually leads to offense, then anger, and then paybacks through disloyalty and betrayal. Prayer helps us see things as they are, not as we justify ourselves to “feel.” It’s much easier to forgive others when we realize just how much forgiveness we need ourselves. Pray and then choose to forgive your spouse, just as God chose to forgive us through Jesus!
What do I do when it feels hopeless?
Keep your eyes on what God has for you. If you will renew your mind with the Word of God, vision, joy, and excitement will begin to rise up inside of you!
How do I let go of anxiety over the relationship?
Jesus has already purchased the victory for you on the cross. It’s up to you to know the truth, to live the truth, and to enforce it when you’re in the battles. YOU can do anything you need to do through Christ who strengthens you. (Philippians 4:13.) When you turn to God, you can live a life of perfect peace, despite your circumstances. (Link to Better Than You Think anywhere in copy)