4. Seek understanding. Once you’ve reconciled these past issues, now you are ready to lay the foundation for growth in compatibility. To begin this work you need a greater understanding of your mate in your areas of difference. Understanding is what keeps you from failing in the same area over and over again. What is required to gain understanding of your mate?
The first thing to do is to sit down and talk over the most recent issue that has destroyed your sense of compatibility. Ask your mate if he or she has any suggestions about how to keep this conflict from recurring. This action would demonstrate your obedience to a simple command of Scripture. Husbands should dwell with their wives “with understanding” (1 Peter 3:7).
The word understanding in this passage means to gain knowledge by investigation. Therefore, investigating your mate’s thoughts and goals will always be the first step in understanding any behavior or conflict. The more time you spend simply inquiring and searching out what your mate thinks and desires on any given subject, the greater will be your understanding. Greater understanding of your loved one will always produce a greater sense of compatibility in your relationship.
To further enhance your understanding you must also become a good listener. Solomon explained to his son this key to understanding. “Pay attention to my wisdom; lend your ear to my understanding” (Prov. 5:1). If you want to develop understanding of your mate, you must develop good listening skills. However, most of us are more ready to talk than we are to listen. If this is your problem, you are doomed to hear these words over and over again from your spouse: “I’ve told you this several times before. Haven’t you been listening?” If you don’t want to hear these words, then be swift to hear and slow to speak (James 1:19).
Another key ingredient in gaining understanding is your ability to remember what your spouse has explained or asked you to do. It usually sounds like this: “Honey, if you would just do _____,” or, “If you would only stop doing _____ I wouldn’t get so upset.” So often husbands and wives try and explain to their mate what would make the relationship better, but it is simply not heard, or it is forgotten. If your knowledge of what should or should not be done is to be applied to future behavior, you must remember what your mate has said. Jesus reproved his disciples for failing to learn the lesson from a miracle that he had just performed. He asked them
Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up?
Jesus knew that the disciples were confused about what He was teaching them. Note that Jesus directly associates their lack of understanding with their failure to remember.
Therefore, begin investigating what your spouse thinks and believes is important. Listen carefully, and remember what he or she has said. Then act on your insights. If your mate has told you, “I love it when you _____,” don’t wait another day, do it! As you demonstrate your understanding by your actions, you will also sense a greater compatibility and harmony in your relationship.
5. Agree to compromise. A further aid to developing compatibility will be finding mutually agreeable compromises. However, let me clarify what I mean by compromise. I am not talking about compromise over moral issues or direct biblical commands. These issues should never be compromised under any circumstances. However, there are a multitude of issues that do not fall into this category, issues which may allow you to find workable compromises that will greatly affect your relationship. Let me give an example.
Paul gave excellent counsel to the couples in the Corinthian church concerning decisions about when or if they should abstain from sexual relations with their spouse. He declared,
Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
1 Cor. 7:5
The word consent in this passage means to find a harmonious agreement. Note that an agreement between both partners was essential. Please notice that neither the husband nor the wife had the right to dictate to the other concerning the frequency of their sexual relationship. Paul explained that both partners had given up the right to refuse their bodies since they were joined in marriage. If a refusal for sexual relations is verbalized it must be by mutual consent and agreement.
Judging from the amount of marriage counseling that I do on this subject, many couples have confided in me that they are not very compatible in their sexual relationship. Some believe they are being deprived while others believe they are being forced to perform. Compatibility in the sexual area or any area is simply a question of finding an agreement to lovingly compromise. Love will cause one partner to restrain his or her desires for sexual relations. However, love will also cause the other partner to initiate and give more frequently. It’s simply a matter of choosing to love! Love will always motivate you to find a compromise in this, or any area of your marriage. You can do it!
Therefore, whether your differences are in your sexual relationship or some other issue, you must begin a dialog with your mate and pursue agreement through compromise. When you come up with a reasonable idea for compromise, sit down with your mate and discuss it. If there is still a disagreement, continue in prayer and discussion until you find a compromise. Remember: If Paul commanded couples to find an agreement in the most intimate area of sex, don’t you think it could also work in other areas? Why not begin your search for that loving agreement to compromise in those recurring areas of conflict?
For more godly advice on marriage, you might also enjoy BIBLICAL RESOLUTIONS
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 Covenant Keepers
Excerpt republished with permission from Covenant Keepers by Pastor Steve Carr, Copyright 2013