Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Some Honest Advice

Boo and I have been together a little over 5 years, and as with any relationship we have certainly had our ups and downs. Over the course of the past month I've heard several of my friends talking their way through their own rough relationship spots. It's refreshing in a way, to find out that other couples have rough days, but it is also very hard to see friends struggling in their dating relationship or marriage.

As I was sharing some of my own experiences with a close friend I realized that I am extremely blessed to have someone to give me honest advice even when it is hard. And I'm blessed that God is faithful to change me if I am willing to be changed. Without those two things I don't think I could be happily married.

I can't make anyone else want to be changed. But I can share the advice that has helped me so much in my marriage, and I can say for certain that if you ask God to change your heart He will be faithful to do it.

The path to this knowledge has been long and winding. And I know that these are not all of the answers. This can be taken for advice in your own situation, but really this is a reminder to myself; an entry in a journal to be read and reread when I forget what I've already learned.

It Takes Two to Tango. Have you ever seen a tango where one partner was dragging the other around the floor? No. The effort comes from both partners. But I know that's not how most people look at their own situation. It is easy in a marriage (and I would categorize any serious relationship thus) to expect 'the other person' to do all of the work. Easy for a woman to think "He needs to be a better husband" or "He doesn't put my needs first". Easy for a man to think "She needs to be a better wife" or "She never considers what I want". But if we can be so brave as to look at our own behavior we could make sure that we are doing our part first. Before I look to what Boo is lacking, I must first look at myself and ask if I am doing my part. Are there things I can change about myself to make the situation better? I've found that if I can ask and answer those questions honestly, that there is plenty for me to do on my own end. And, focusing on correcting my own shortcomings tends to take my focus off of Boo. :)

Compromise is not a four-letter word. We often, as people, think if we are forced to compromise we are forced to lose out on something. Especially in America, we view compromise as defeat. To be faced with a compromise is a challenge. What we need to do is change our perception of the outcome. To reach a compromise is not defeat. To reach a compromise is to rise up and accept the challenge, and to conquer our own selfishness. Learning to compromise is learning to sacrifice for the better. You don't lose in a compromise. You lose if you demand to have things your own way.

You married who you married. On the day you said "I do" you said it (presumably) to an adult. Not to a child who still had growing up to do. Not to someone who still needs parenting, or who hasn't quite discovered the person they want to be. If you said those words thinking "I'll love you when you change all the things I don't love about you" you're going to be sorely disappointed. There is no requirement for change after a wedding. As a matter of fact, I think men and women alike treat the wedding as the end-all, and everything after that is just downhill. A wedding is just the beginning. And while a marriage takes work and compromise from both partners, the only person you have the power to change is yourself. Stop waiting or expecting your partner to change. You married who you married. If you want things to be different, change yourself.

Have a change of heart. You can't change yourself. You can alter your behavior and you can make new habits, but if your heart doesn't change your efforts will not endure. The good news is, God can change your heart. If you desire to work at making your marriage great, and you are willing to learn how to compromise and you want to be satisfied with the person you married ASK GOD TO CHANGE YOUR HEART. He will give you unconditional love in abundance; for yourself and for your spouse. If you will be humble God will be faithful.

These points above apply to anyone, in any relationship, not just marriage. But this last point is for the women.

Remember 1 Peter 3. "Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that , if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." As a woman, and as a wife, if you will do as Peter says here your own husband will be won over by your behavior. If you're dissatisfied with how your husband acts or treats you, look to God to make you the wife of 1 Peter 3. Ask God to use the way you love your husband as an example to him of how he may love you. And then see if a change in your own behavior doesn't have a remarkable effect.


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