What’s very good way to grow towards intimacy with your husband?
Hint: that’s a trick question.
There’s actually not a correct answer to that question, because there’s not a universal BEST route. There is only what God would have you do, in this particular moment. And that may vary for different marriages, and even over the years for your own marriage.
I’m not saying that truth is relative, by the way, or that sin is ever okay. I’m only saying that the right thing to do is highly contingent on what’s going on in your wedding at the time, and in what God is doing behind the scenes. And that’s not always straightforward.
Let me explain with a story, and then with a verse.
This month on the blog we’re looking at how small changes can stimulate big differences in a wedding. I started out last week looking at how it’s important to speak up when something is bothering us, and to do something about it if our spouse is underfunctioning. I devoted an example from the book Mended that I had read, where the husband would go to a potluck at church and do the rounds, talking to everyone, and routinely leave the wife responsible for corralling all four children on her own.
Then I suggested that what she could do is leave the kids with him at the next potluck, so that he would experience what that felt like. That suggestion stimulated sense to me, because I had read the book and knew everything that led up to this( his workaholism; his being advised by friends and clergymen that he was forgetting his family; his wife trying to bring up issues to no avail ). But doing that out of left field would be major escalation, and likely not a good idea. There are several steps that would be better to do first, like talking it through, trying to manage the kids together, etc.
At the same time, when a husband has never seemed after all of the children, and routinely ignores the kids when in public with his wife, and this has been a chronic problem which he refuses to address, I do think that her take some drastic steps to show him what it is like, and to refuse to go out to public events anymore may be warranted, for her own sanity.
So how do you tell when you should do something mild, and how do you tell when you need firmer bounds?
That’s where Micah 6:8 comes in! The poem says 😛 TAGEND
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love compassion and to walk meekly with your God.
Okay, so we’re to act justly-to do what is right and good and which brings about God’s kingdom on earth-but we’re also to love mercy, which means foregoing justice at times and forgiving offences.
Notice how these two things are in opposition to one another?
Act justly says that we are to pursue God’s justice. Love mercy means that we are to forgive and excel in kindness and generosity.
That’s why the last bit of the poem is actually the most important: You’re to walk meekly with your God.
To walk with God means that God is ever-present in your daily life. Throughout the day, your intellect and heart are focused on Him. You think about the things of God. You read Scripture and pray. You try to walk in Jesus’ footsteps.
But you do this with a certain attitude: humility. You don’t walk with God assuming that you know all the answers. You don’t consider God as a Santa Claus, that you can just mollify and then He’ll give you what you want. No, you’re humble, realizing that He is God and you are not, and His thoughts are not as your thoughts. He is above you. Thus, you need to listen to God , not dictate to God.
The only way that you can find the balance between justice and mercy in your marriage is to walk meekly with God, because He may want you to do things that He is not asking a friend of yours to do. He may want you to bear up with some problems for years as God works on your husband’s heart. Or He may want you to take action sooner, to allow your husband to feel the consequences of his actions, because only then will your husband be motivated to change.
We often get the balance between justice and mercy backwards in our marriages.
Many people, in the little things in wedding, and in the early years of marriage, lean too heavily on the justice side. They become angry at their spouses very easily. They assume that their spouses are intentionally hurting them, rather than simply being clueless about how you find the world. They become disdainful when the spouse doesn’t meet their expectations, which are usually unrealistic anyway. And this builds a distance between them that is likely to be forged if people just learned how to be kind to one another, believe very good, and bring things up in a way that doesn’t heap blamed and remorse but instead simply shares our heart.
On the other hand, when crises reach a marriage, and when a spouse is truly behaving severely, many people lean too much on the mercy side of the equation. We’re so scared the marriage is going to fall apart that we’re willing to overlook just about anything if it can simply keep the marriage together. We’ll turn ourselves inside out, assuring how we can change ourselves and be nicer, rather than taking a step back and letting the spouse reap what he or she sows. In a style, we are treating marriage as an idol , afraid of losing it, instead of allowing God’s purposes to reign.
We are steadfast and immovable when we should be merciful, and merciful when we should be steadfast and immovable.
We need to get the balance right, and the only way to do that is to walk with God, ensure what God’s purposes are, and align ourselves with them.
God’s general intents for marriage are that we love each other, subsistence each other, and grow intimacy as we demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit.
God’s specific purposes for your matrimony may be very different. He may be writing a big story of redemption and reconciliation, and He may want you to endure a lot, for a season. Or He may be wanting to free both of you from something that is holding you in bondage, and that liberty will merely come with drastic action. That’s why, while I may dedicate some general believes on principles on how we should approach certain issues, in each matrimony it frankly may be different, because God is writing a different story. You need to have mentor couples or counselors from a good, healthy Christian community alongside you who can guide you through difficult times.
One more guessed: The Christian culture often dedicates us too few tools to help our weddings.
I’ll go on Pinterest and I’ll insure a post saying,” what to do when your husband uses porn”, and I’ll read through it, and ultimately the only action it devotes is “pray”. I’ll read a headline about what to do if you’re distant in your matrimony, and the only answer given is “submit”. This goes for men as well-all they often hear is” love her sacrificially .”
Think about how many resources you can name where the main message is to pray for your spouse. Now, I firmly believe in prayer. I pray for my family daily, and I have wrestled in prayer for all of them repeatedly. But we forget something important about prayer. Prayer is not ONLY the combat; it is also fortification for the combat ahead that we may be asked to fight, as I shared in this post about The War Room movie 😛 TAGEND
I see[ getting our marriage on track] as a three component battle 😛 TAGEND
We do battle to get our hearts right. We bang on the gates of heaven on behalf of our husband’s heart and soul We ask God for direction on what steps we should take to bring His will and His kingdom into our marriage.
There’s not a lot of good teaching on# 3. There’s a lot on# 2, and a little bit on# 1. But# 3 is almost completely lacking.
Nevertheless, in Scripture we’re told to do more than pray. We’re to rescue the wander disciple( James 5:19 -2 0 ). We’re to confront someone in sin( Matthew 18:15 -2 0 ). We’re to make peace( Romans 12:18 ). If all we’re to do is to pray, then James would have written: if you consider a disciple straying, pray for him-and left it at that. But he didn’t!
Here’s something even more startling: there are times when we AREN’T supposed to pray until things are right in the physical world. If you go to offer your gift at the altar, or if you go to take communion, and you remember that you have caused offense to someone, you go and induce that right first. Sometimes not acting in the physical realm avoids our prayers from being answered.
So let’s make sure that we understand all THREE battlegrounds: our hearts; the spiritual realm; and the physical realm where we interact.
In most matrimonies, for most marriage problems, we need to focus a whole lot more on the compassion and kindness side of the equation.
That’s what I’ll be discussing in the next two weeks as we appear further at how to grow towards intimacy and feel shut. We’ll be looking at how to share your heart in a way that doesn’t blame or heap guilt, but just builds oneness.
But we also need tools for acting rightly, when that is what God is calling you to do.
My book 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage has several supposes teaching us how to explore the mercy side of the equation, but then spends 3 believes on the justice side. In fact, I use Micah 6:8 as the anchor poem for the book! If you’re struggling with what this would actually look like in a wedding, I foster you to pick that up.
Do you have a hard time asking for what you want?
You can change the dynamic in your marriage and attain talking about your own needs easier!
If your marriage is in a communication rut, it’s time for some change.
So today, ask God: How can I love mercy more? How can I act justly in my marriage? And then take time to listen, and assure what He says.
What do you think? Do you lean too much on the justice side, or the compassion side? Let’s talk in the comments!
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Sheila Wray Gregoire has been married for 27 years and blithely married for 22! She loves traveling around North America with her hubby in their RV, dedicating her signature “Girl Talk” about sexuality and matrimony. And she’s written 8 books. About sex and wedding. See a theme here? Plus she knits. Even in line at the grocery store.
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