7. Purpose to lovingly give. Love is the most powerful motivation to resolving the differences in your marriage. Love is the reason why you seek a plan to resolve your conflicts. Love is also the motivation to carry-out the agreement once you have talked it through. In addition, love is what enables you to forgive when your spouse fails to fulfill the agreement (1 Peter 4:8). Love is the key to all aspects of dealing with your differences.
But most of all, love is what causes you to give when you don’t feel like giving. Scripture constantly brings to our attention the example of God’s love that gave in the greatest way possible to resolve His differences with mankind. Remember, “For God so loved that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Love is what motivated the Father to give up His most precious possession, the Son of His love (Col. 1:13). John then naturally encourages us “If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).
Here is the answer you are looking for: a giving motivated by love. This is what makes the differences you possess workable because it causes your spouse to be provoked to give in return. This is why we are commanded to “provoke unto love and to good works” (Heb. 10:24 KJV). We know all too well how to provoke one another unto wrath and evil works. Yet, love and giving to your spouse will bridge the chasm between you. Therefore, decide how and where you can be more giving in the areas where you have been stubborn. Take little opportunities throughout the day to determine your mate’s needs and give. Purpose in your heart to never be “out given.”
8. Resolve to be respectful. Behaving in a respectful manner in these areas of difference is essential to keeping the peace, which in turn enables you to enjoy long-term success. Scripture gives a reciprocal command to husbands and wives that encourages this action. “Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Eph. 5:33). Notice the coupling of the command to love and respect. How important these two attitudes and actions are because one naturally will beget the other. Even though respect is a command given specifically to wives, this by no means exempts the husband being respectful anymore than it allows the wife to be unloving. Loving respect is the glue that holds a marriage together even when there are grave differences between the partners.
How can you show respect for one another? Respect is fundamentally an attitude of consideration and care that you demonstrate to your spouse in all that you say and do. It is demonstrated by observing all of the points I have addressed in this article. You respect your loved one by not acting selfishly or forcing your will upon your mate. You come with love in your voice to talk over your differences and attempt to find a mutually agreed-upon solution. There will be no harsh condemnation or belittling of your partner, but a willingness to admit your own faults and seek forgiveness. When two people have this definition of respect there is nothing that they can’t resolve.
9. Learn to accept. Acceptance is truly the crowning decision of the mature believer regarding the differences with one’s spouse. What do I mean by acceptance?
Acceptance means that you acknowledge the fact that you have these differences because you are two different people. You must also conclude that it is unrealistic to think that you will ever become exactly alike. This simply will not happen! However, as long as you are hoping for such an experience or hoping to change your mate you will always be dissatisfied. You may be thinking, I don’t expect my spouse to become just like me. Then why do you criticize your partner, or suggest exactly how he or she should do something? Your words reveal what you truly think and expect.
Acceptance doesn’t mean that you stop trying to resolve issues or that you allow your partner to treat you in an unloving way. Acceptance of your differences is simply the fruit of the Spirit demonstrated toward one another. You will become patient and kind to each other while you bear with the differences that exist. You will be gentle and daily seek a greater self-control over your own wants and desires while at the same time attempting to faithfully give to your loved one (Gal. 5:22,23). These are truly the only ways to deal with your differences effectively which will produce the depth of relationship you long for with your spouse.
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If you would like more information on the marriage ministry of Pastor Steve Carr or his book Married and How To Stay That Way, please visit us at www.covenantkeepers.org