Monday, June 24, 2013

From Contentious To Content

"[Love] keeps no records of wrongs" (1 Corinthians 13:5b NIV).

When we love we feel wonderful. Remember when you were "in love?" I do. It was such a creative and growing time. Then I got married and started keeping records. Bad!

In a booklet I wrote, Why NOT Divorce, I suggested ten commandments for keeping one's union intact:

1. List your spouse's good points only.

2. List your own negative contributions to the marriage.

3. Read God's word together, if at all possible. If your spouse will not join you in daily devotionals, then read and pray privately. Daily reading: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

4. Use your creative imagination to see yourself as loving your spouse. The moment a bad thought or image enters, pray to the Holy Spirit. And get busy!

5. Don't have the last word. Let God's Word be the last word--to yourself. If need be, write a rational and caring note during those times when you can't verbally communicate.

6. Forgive, as God has already forgiven us all.

7. Give thanks often to God for this person, and then give thanks to the person.

8. Don't discuss marital problems with "sympathetic" friends who you know thought the marriage to be a big mistake anyway. This can be the death knell.

9. Be grateful for this set of circumstances and see in this situation the opportunity for spiritual growth.

10. Make the first move, with whatever words are necessary. You can simply say, "I'm sorry," or "Please forgive me." Sometimes it works!

In the booklet I write about the IOU's--the records of wrongs--we accumulate and stuff in a drawer and pull out during our stress times. Instead of keeping track of our spouse's IOU's, we might try putting our own into the empty space: IOU for taking on the responsibility of a family; IOU for loving me enough to overlook my moods; IOU for letting me pursue my hobbies without question; IOU for absorbing financial burdens; IOU for being willing to stay home alone when I go on trips; IOU for being kind enough to leave me alone when I need that aloneness. Remember, love is taking the ious out of contentious and finally being content!

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