The secret to closeness in marriage are not just in sparkling conversation, shared interests of similar goals or incredible sex. As good as those are, the secret is practicing plain old-fashioned thoughtfulness and kindness. It is something we all learnt when we were young but forgot because we got so busy. As simple as things like respect, sensitivity, attentiveness and caring are, they actually go a long way to heal, restore and renew any relationship. If your marriage needs a tune-up, begin to engage in these four things:
Practise Hug Therapy: When you are at odds with each other as a couple, always remember that ‘hearts will agree though heads may differ.’ So a hug works wonders especially when we touch one another in caring ways. Our bodies actually produce chemicals that calm us down emotionally at such odd times and this can help us to bond physically. God designed us that way.
Don’t forget the little things: When you routinely build little acts of kindness into your marriage they become a source of strength in your relationship. This becomes like a deposit in your bank account that you can always draw on when occasion demands. So think ‘personal’ and ‘sweet’ things like helping out with domesticated roles.
Mind your manners: Just because we are married and familiarity sets in does not mean common courtesy should take the back burner in our relationships. We must learn daily the art of listening without interrupting, practising the basics like saying, ‘Please’ ‘Thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’. These virtues are not rocket science, but they work any day to strengthen any relationship.
Complement each other: Your spouse in marriage is not a mind reader. Whenever you think something nice about them, tell them. We live in a cold, competitive world so hearing that we are truly loved, smart, attractive and fun from someone whose opinion we really value means a lot. So learn to put a glow on your spouse’s face, restore any broken relationships by letting out the compliments.
This week we can truly learn to be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other as well as speaking the truth in love as we look out for the best interest our spouse thereby strengthening our relationship in marriage. The best place to start is where we are today!
Sometimes the only way to get over your hurt feelings is to seek reconciliation. And if you are willing, God will help you do it. George Eliot wrote: ‘Oh, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.’ A college professor who was teaching on the high cost of unforgiveness asked each of her students to bring a sack of potatoes to class. For each person they refused to forgive, they had to select a potato and write the date on it beside that person’s name. Then for a month, without fail, they had to carry that sack of potatoes with them everywhere they went. After lugging those sacks around for a while each student began to recognize how much weight they were carrying; the amount of energy it took to focus on their bag; and that they had to be careful not to leave it in the wrong place. Eventually, as the potatoes began to rot and stink, they realized that getting rid of them was the only smart thing to do. Jesus said,’If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t…what are you going to do with them? Good question! How would you like God to forgive you in the same way you forgive others? If that thought makes you uncomfortable, do something about it!
Dr. Howard Hendricks, a church growth expert, was once asked to diagnose the declining membership in a certain church. After attending service for several weeks he met with the board of elders and said, ‘Put a fence around it and charge admission, so people can come and see how church was done in the 1950s.’ In other words, you’re hopelessly behind! When our ego is on the line, we have a tendency to put a positive spin on things while ignoring all evidence to the contrary. The danger is that over time we lose sight of what’s actually happening around us. Good leaders refuse to do that; they’re relentless in their quest to know the score. They root out misinformation and refuse to reward those who deliver it. In so doing they create a culture that’s transparent concerning what is and what isn’t taking place. To ensure that they live this way, they live by these seven commandments:
1) Thou shalt not pretend.
2) Thou shalt not turn a blind eye.
3) Thou shalt not exaggerate.
4) Thou shalt not shoot the bearer of bad news.
5) Thou shalt not hide behind the numbers.
6) Thou shalt not ignore constructive criticism.
7) Thou shalt not isolate thyself.
Attempting to make progress while turning a blind eye to reality is like treading water; it can only go on for so long. Eventually you drown. Whether it’s in your church, your business or your personal life, be willing to face the truth regardless of how painful it is. And if you don’t like what you see-start changing it!