Imagine you’re having a conversation with your spouse when something doesn’t quite sit right with you. You ask your spouse a question to clarify what you heard them say. They don’t respond right away. There is, what we call, a “pregnant silence.” That’s when you know there are lots of things your spouse is wanting to say, but they’re holding their tongue until they figure out how to say it. Or your spouse may blurt out a defensive response that you didn’t expect.
Either way, what do you do in that moment? Here are your choices:
- Bark back allowing a huge argument to ensue.
- Cross your arms, close your heart and refuse to talk about it anymore.
- Wait until your spouse says what they have to say. And then ask more questions until you’re sure you completely understand how they got to this conclusion.
So often we judge our spouse based on the past, or based on what we think they mean.
Both of these are unfair treatments. It leaves no room for growth or change. If we always expect our spouse to be the same way in certain situations, it pretty much chains them to it. We make them a prisoner of our expectations whether good or bad. Where is the grace in that? Is this how Christ treats us when we’ve failed, yet again, in a certain area? Or is He patient, allowing us room to grow through our failures?
We know the answer. Christ was patient unto death. He willingly took what our sins deserved in order to make a way for us to change. God wants us to do the same for our spouse. He wants us to die to our own expectations and trust Him to work in our spouse for their good and His glory. Sometimes the best thing we can give our spouse is patient silence, rather than picking away at the lack we see.
But then, this isn’t easy, is it? We’re all sinners at heart and doing the right thing, thinking the right way, and responding with grace towards those we love takes diligent effort. We get tired. We grow weary. And we just want to be happy and have peace.
Times like these can reveal idols in our heart.
What is it you’re craving in a moment like this? Is it peace? Is it understanding? Or is it to glorify God. The last answer is the right one. God doesn’t promise us a conflict-free marriage. No, He uses the conflicts we face to challenge false gods we may be worshiping. Of course, most of us don’t set up an Asherah pole in our living room, or wield golden calves in our garage, but we do set up idols.
An idol can be anything we desire or long for more than glorifying God.
It could be financial freedom, job security, a new car, or even respectful children.
There is a fine line in our heart between genuine love for God’s creation and sinful worship of the same. Only He knows when we’ve crossed the line, and He’s faithful to let us know that is, IF we’re paying attention. Our conflicts often help us see what’s in our own hearts.
If we want our marriage to grow, then we must seize moments like these and ask God to show us the bigger picture of what He’s after in our heart. This isn’t easy, but it’s important to remember that the Holy Spirit dwells inside of us, and He will help us hear God in the midst of the trouble.