This week has been an emotional roller coaster for me. Sunday started out with me attending my friend’s baby shower. Celebrating the new addition to her already-wonderful family was probably the highlight of my week.
Then on Monday morning, I got some terrible news. A couple that’s been friends with my parents for decades was in a bad car accident, leaving the wife dead and the husband in the hospital with a broken neck bone. It pretty much crushed me. I’ve spent the rest of the week walking around functioning on the outside, but whenever I have time alone, the tears are always close to the surface.
This week was also the last week of school for my eighth-grade students, so yesterday was especially bittersweet, saying goodbye to the students I’ve taught and loved for the past school year. Surviving this week took a lot of compartmentalizing, to say the least. Even though I was sad inside, and often found myself close to tears, I had to put my grief aside and still be present for my family and my students. Though I had a lot going on internally, I had to find the strength to keep it at bay and put a smile on my face when I picked up my kids from daycare, or when I was making ice cream with my students on their last week of school.
It got me to thinking about something similar in marriage. Sometimes, dealing with your spouse during a disagreement requires the same thing. At times, your spouse will make you upset or hurt your feelings, but you still have to put that aside and be a reflection of Christ to them. This is what God calls us all to do. It's definitely not easy, but I'm an example that it works!
When we first got married, I used to get REAL petty when I was upset with my husband. I wouldn’t cook him any breakfast, I’d make sure I spoke to him in a really cold tone (if I spoke to him at all), and I’d slam things around in the house. Then I’d go to the store, or the closest library, and stay out of the house for a long time. Basically, I did everything I could to make him very aware of the fact that he had messed up.
But then things started to change when I saw how Jono treated me when he was upset with me. He still made me breakfast, cleaned, and spoke politely when I was being petty. I felt ashamed at my reaction when this became a regular thing that he did. After a while, I realized that I had to change my attitude too, and it made our marriage a whole lot better! Now when I get upset with Jono, I try to follow the standard he set at the beginning of our marriage because I know that's what God is calling me to do. He's calling me to love my husband unconditionally and treat him accordingly no matter how upset I am with him. Here are some reasons why I think it's so important for us all to uphold that same standard in our marriages.
1. God wants you to be His reflection to your spouse.
Marriage is your first ministry. No matter how nice you are to people outside your home, the greatest test of your love as a Christian is the way you treat your spouse. If you’re a reactive person and respond in a vengeful way when your spouse does something hurtful or upsetting, you’re not reflecting the image of God to your spouse. Part of His plan for your spouse’s salvation is the Jesus they see in you. So the question is, are you a reflection of unconditional love when your spouse upsets you?
2. God is trying to make YOU more like Him too.
Here’s the thing about making the effort to be loving in spite of your spouse’s actions: it makes you better too! When you make the decision to be more loving and kind, you’re going to quickly realize that you can’t do it on your own. You’re going to have to get that strength and willpower on your knees in prayer. The more you do that, the more your own character changes. You’ll find that your habits in other areas of your life will change as well. It's all part of your walk with God.
3. Someone has to initiate the love cycle.
When you choose to walk in obedience to a higher standard of the word “love,” your entire marriage will change. When you make the decision to initiate that cycle of unconditional love, you’ll see so many blessings as a result. The energy in your home will be a lot more positive. Even when you disagree, your kids won’t walk around on eggshells because your demeanor won’t reflect whatever disagreement you and your spouse are going through. And when you do decide to work it out, it won’t spiral out of control because your goal won’t be to hurt them the way they’ve hurt you. Your goal will be unity and love, so there won’t be any room for yelling, cussing, or the fighting. Your conscience will be free of regret for thinking terrible thoughts or saying terrible things to your spouse in the heat of the moment.
It’s not easy to take the high road. Believe me, I know! It’s a constant battle between your pride and your conscience. But when you make that decision consistently, so many good things come from it. You become a better person, and your spouse will have no choice but to see the difference in the way you treat them. That contrast will become seeds that will bear the fruits of change in their own life. It only takes one person to initiate the cycle of unconditional love in your home. It’s totally worth it!
Till next time!