Do you know what it’s like to be married but feel “miles apart” from your husband?
How about the feeling that there’s tension in a friendship but you’re not sure why?
Or, maybe your difficulty is with a growing — or grown — child who sees things differently than you.
Change has always been hard for me. I think because I’ve always liked the security of knowing things wouldn’t change. But someone once shared with me that “Growth ALWAYS means change.” And I believe that applies to our relationships, too. When we start doing something differently, we can start seeing positive changes because “more of the same doesn’t mean change.”
Let me share with you five ways we can change our attitude — or actions — and thereby change our relationships and our lives for the better. These are five truths from my book, 12 Ways to Experience More With Your Husband, but they can apply to you whether you’re married or not.
- Think it Through – How many times do you say the first thing that comes to your mind and then later regret it? Or maybe you are one to emotionally react instead of maturely respond (remember that lesson from my book, Drama Free?). But when you think it through and then carefully respond to someone you can improve or even save a relationship. Ephesians 4:29 tells us to “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” And in James 1:19, we are instructed to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”
It’s in our human nature to let our guards down and even take advantage of someone we love after we’ve been around them for awhile, but one of the principles in my new book is to think it through and respond the way you once did — as a new wife who adored her husband, or as a best friend who was excited about her friendship. But there’s so much baggage, you may be thinking. Sure there is. But Christ loved you in spite of your baggage. And it’s possible your spouse, child, parent, or sibling is loving you in spite of your baggage, as well. Can you think it through and become the person you once were when the relationship was going great?
2. Let it Go — My, how we can hold onto things. We know how to bear grudges, grow resentments, refuse to forgive. But any relationship grows when we can learn to let things go and move forward. Stop keeping score. In fact, erase that score. Consider that the hurtful things someone has said or done to you may be that person’s response to pain in his or her life. Pray for the wisdom to know when to confront someone from a heart of love and when to let their offense go. If you are having trouble with this, see my article “Why Is It So Difficult to Forgive?” on the Articles of Encouragement page on my website.
3. Close the Gap — In every relationship or job situation things are getting better, remaining stagnant, or growing worse. The gap (or emotional distance) starts growing when there’s a misunderstanding, a word taken the wrong way, an offense not addressed. “When the heart is poked, it starts to close,” says my counselor friend Robin Reinke. Has your heart closed off toward someone? If so, your heart can be healed and that gap of separation can be closed. Realize who you are in Christ — you are loved, cherished, forgiven, made perfect — so you no longer expect someone else to fix you, fill your insecurities, or make you feel valued. Jesus did it all. Acknowledge that and free up the one you love from unrealistic expectations. By doing this, you will be freeing yourself, as well. John 8:32 says “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (For a sure-fire process to free others of your expectations, see my book, Letting God meet Your Emotional Needs.)
4. Wait it Out – This is another way of saying “Pray it Through.” Because often we want to just ACT. DO. MESS IT UP. Well, we don’t intend to do that last one, but that’s likely what happens when we refuse to wait it out. Instead of acting impulsively — or charging forward with your plan or your area of disagreement with someone else — wait it out and pray it through. See what God accomplishes in the waiting. In Philippians 2:1-3 we are instructed to be of the same mind, maintain the same love, and be in full accord and of one mind with one another. That kind of unity rarely happens apart from prayer that the Holy Spirit would align our hearts with other believers. Pray it through (even if your situation is with an unbelieving husband, friend, or child) and wait for God to move before rushing in and insisting on your way. His way and His timing are always better than ours.
5. Stick it Out – We live in a world that quits when things get tough. But God never quits on you. He went the distance…all the way to Calvary to secure your redemption. Just knowing that, can you be a person who sticks it out when it comes to your marriage, your job, your responsibility, your promise, and your commitment to finish well?
In Hebrews 12:2 we are reminded that Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, stuck it out on the cross “for the jury set before Him.” Can you stick it out and “bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things” for the sake of the relationship (1 Corinthians 13:7)? Jesus did that for you. Do that for one another.
My newest book, 12 Ways to Experience More With Your Husband will help you do the above five things when it comes to your marriage. Which of these do you most need to practice when it comes to your parenting, your job, your children, or your relationship with another individual? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.