After two years of marriage, I decided that I must have married the wrong person. So I left my husband, Terry. During our separation, I became a Christian and eventually had a change of heart, but by that time, Terry no longer wanted the marriage. We were heading toward divorce on a roller-coaster ride that would last nearly two years, yet ultimately ended with the reconciliation of our relationship.
When Terry and I separated, we didn't know how to cultivate a lasting love. We both wanted to be loved rather than to love. In the years since our reconciliation, we have learned how to love each other.
Perhaps you're standing now where we once were — in a failing marriage. I'd love to share with you three ideas to help you get your marriage back on track.
Accept things you don't like
Terry and I disagree on steak. I love steak, baked potatoes and salad. He would rather have hamburger steak and gravy. (Terry has never asked me not to buy steak. He just prefers hamburger steak — even if the rest of us are eating other steaks.) My nature is to tell him all the reasons we should have real steak. Or, I can just buy hamburger steak and have a happy husband.
Terry, who has exercised his whole life, would love for me to work out three days a week for my own benefit. I detest exercise. So instead, he invites me to take a walk with him occasionally, and we both enjoy it. Acceptance is a lot more fun than nagging and conflict. It's a lot more peaceful, too.
Terry appreciates that I'm organized and wholeheartedly dedicated to raising our children. He likes that I'm a hard worker but doesn't like that I often look for "fast" ways — instead of "festive" ways — to cook. I admire Terry for being a good provider, a great handyman and an involved father. He's consistent, thoughtful, wise and resourceful. But he's a pitiful nurse when I'm sick.
To gain the right perspective on your spouse's traits, fill your mind with all that you love about him or her. Affirm what you love about your husband or wife by occasionally expressing your thanks. Vain flattery will not be helpful to your relationship, so look for authentic ways to express your gratitude.
Seek unity in your marriage
Recently there was a car show on a beautiful golf course near our home. Terry loves golf and sports cars, and he asked me to go with him. I thought of so many other things I wanted to do. I suggested some people he could ask to go, but he only wanted to go with me. So I went.
Now I have a fond memory of us holding hands as we viewed the cars on a beautiful, cloudless day. I would have missed that time of closeness and unity with my husband if I had insisted I only share with him in activities for which I have a natural affinity. And he has done the same for me by taking me to a movie when he would much rather be doing something outside.
Embracing each other's wholesome interests helps us to live in stronger unity with each other.
Ask for forgiveness
Not long ago I was making dinner and spilled hot oil on the floor just as Terry came into the kitchen. He reacted with, "Be careful!" I raised my voice and snapped back at him saying, "I didn't do it on purpose!" He cleaned up the mess for me and then left the room. Once I admitted to myself that I had been short with my husband, I called out to him and asked if he would forgive me.
Make it a habit to ask each other for forgiveness. There's healing in your relationship when you can say, "I'm sorry, will you forgive me?" — and mean it.
I realize now that many years ago when I left my husband, I was selfishly consumed with my own needs. But since that time I've learned that God tells us in His word that He will supply all our needs. We are not here to focus on what we think we need, but to focus on those people God has called us to serve — starting with our husband or wife.
I would have missed so much had I not learned to love my husband as God intended.Juana Mikels is the author of Choosing Him All Over Again.