Marrying a Christian doesn’t automatically make your marriage easy. In marriage, the two become one as they are centered under God. The reality all marriages face is the fact that each spouse comes with their own belief and ways of seeing, doing, and loving.
We all do what we know, and we measure up to what we have come to accept as okay or “normal.” When you do not know or understand how to use Christ’s heart and character as your definition and design of love, you will use what you know.
We all have a sense or the leading of the Holy Spirit in us when something is not right in our relationships or life. These nudges are red flags. They are warning us that we need to change or fix something before disaster strikes.
- Red Flag of Unkindness
When you first fell for your sweetheart you couldn’t wait to do wonderful things for them. You spent hours thinking of what to say to encourage them. You would do silly things to make them smile or laugh.
Then you got married. You had children. Your lives and focus expanded. You entered into a busy season of your life. During these times, you can let your frustrations, exhaustion, and a load of responsibilities negatively direct your thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions. Especially if you are not nurturing your personal relationship with Jesus Christ daily.
- Are you choosing to be kind or to be mean?
- How hard is it to say please and thank you?
- After your busy day, how hard is it to hold your sweetheart’s hand and count your blessings together as you pray?
When you stop choosing to be kind and thoughtful to your sweetheart, you need to see this as a red flag. Ask yourself if you kept God at the center of your lives, or have you let him fall down your priority list? Your spouse is your life partner.
As Christ lives in you and your spouse, both of you are never without his love and kindness. Ask Jesus to help you remain kind and thoughtful in your marriage. If you are still struggling, ask for help through counseling or coaching.
- Red Flag of Continually Fighting
No one chooses to marry someone with the goal of fighting with them continually unless they are abusive. You chose to promise, to love, and to cherish your spouse, not to fight with them.
If you find that you are continually fighting with your spouse, what are you fighting for or about?
- Stop and make a list of what you believe needs to be resolved.
- Write another list of what you want your way.
- Now study the character, heart, words, attitude, and actions of Jesus and see how your lists match up.
We do what we know from our past experiences. If you grew up in a family that quarreled and fought to be heard and to be in control, you need to own your beliefs and behaviors. Owning your unhealthy behavior is the first step to becoming healthy.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. James 4:1-2 NIV
To help you create healthy ways to handle your desires and opinions, you need to find help from people and through studying God’s word. Healthy discussions have a willing heart to encourage your spouse’s opinions, perspective, and needs.
When you see addressing a topic, need, or desire with your spouse as a battle you MUST WiN, you are destroying your relationship. Disagreements are healthy. However, continually fighting with your spouse will eventually destroy your relationship.
- Red Flag of Using Hurtful Words
Your relationship started with giving complements, encouragement, and I love you’s. As your marriage has evolved and your lives have changed, it is easy to stop using life-giving words.
- When was the last time you gave your spouse a heartfelt complement while gazing into their eyes?
- What do you do when you feel sarcasm creeping up inside you?
- How do you handle a harsh attitude or word from your spouse?
In your marriage, you are responsible for every word you speak. You will also be held accountable face to face by Jesus one day. When you feel the urge to say something that will hurt your spouse, I challenge you to stop, take a breath and ask Jesus to help you. Visualize the face of Jesus over your spouse’s face. Then choose the words you want to share with them and Christ.
You are called to speak words of life just like Jesus who is living in you, regardless of how your spouse is talking. You may have to state out loud, “I choose to speak like Jesus who lives in me,” to stop your emotional reactions from taking over. Speaking this statement reminds you that you have a choice to speak like Jesus or to react like the devil.
Take time to remember and recall the reasons you fell in love with your spouse. Make a commitment to have a date night even if it is a picnic on your living room floor when the kids are asleep. One day your children will leave home, and you and your spouse will be alone.
Guard and nurture your marriage, your promise for a lifetime. Be willing, committed, and prepared to do whatever it takes to treat your spouse like you would Jesus Christ. Be willing to do individual coaching or counseling to break through the roadblocks in your thought, beliefs, or behaviors. Attend Christian marriage conferences or seminars. Also, find a marriage counselor to help both of you work together.
Christ’s design is the only perfect design of love. Use it as your compass. When you approach marriage with the heart and character of Jesus Christ, your marriage will dwell in his abundance of love, joy, and peace until “death do you part.”