My marriage gets mixed up, turned around and in-side-out ALL the time. And I am guessing yours does to. The circumstances aren’t necessarily epic…but the heat is turned up all the same. Perhaps you disagree on which family to visit for Christmas. Perhaps you are trying to get out the door and one baby is poopy, one toddler crying and the other wanting help with their shoes..and your husband is nowhere in sight. Easy daily decisions and the up-down-all-around demands of being parents often drive husband and wife against each other. We want someone to blame, we want someone to point a finger at, so we point it at our spouse. Soon they become our enemy.
But we couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, I believe that viewing our spouse as the enemy or the problem is one of the most dangerous places we can be in.
Here are a few short words that have revolutionized our marriage:
“We are on the same team.”
When my temper starts to flare, Chris steps in with these few simple words and disarms the situation. When we are hurt by each other’s seeming thoughtlessness we remind each other “we are on the same team.” We are for each other! In the war zone known as life, we’ve got each other’s backs.
This concept is simple but day-to-day the practice of it is not. It takes an intentionality in ones thoughts that can best most Olympic athletes! I must choose to believe the best of my husband. I must reject all those thoughts about his irritating habits. I must have a careful reign on what I allow my mind to dwell on.
One way to do this is:
- Begin to notice when your emotions are particularly volatile in relation to your spouse (don’t let the resentment grow without doing something about it).
- Ask yourself “why?” Why are you hurt or angry? (Inside all anger is a hurt from which it originated.)
- Learn to talk with your spouse respectfully. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. Communication is perhaps the MOST difficult aspect of existing so closely with another human. For example,your husband leaves his dishes all over the kitchen for the thousandth time:
Wrong response: “You leave your dishes everywhere expecting me to be your maid. You are either lazy or just plain don’t love me!”
Better response: “So I’ve noticed that you’ve left your dishes out a lot recently…and I wasn’t sure if you’ve been really busy or just forgot. But sometimes it communicate to me that you think of me as your maid.”
Example one shows someone who is speaking out of anger and hurt, judging their partner’s motives, and not believing the best. Response two is tempered…gentle in bringing up the problem, believing the best about their motives and sharing the hurt in a healthy way. The problem in marriage is that we have to learn to respond like example two when we feel like example one! The best thing for me is to slow down, go for a walk, give myself time to ramp down. And learn to keep my mouth shut when my emotions are running on high.
For further reading on this subject (and an all around honest look at real marriages) check out Love and War by John and Staci Eldredge. They are honest in portraying the real storms and battles in their own marriage and share their secrets to “staying on the same team” from a Christian perspective.