There is a great piece of relationship advice for all couples to live by that will grow positive feelings in your marriage.
Isn’t it easy for you to remember all the wrongs that your spouse does your marriage?
I know that I have the ability to remember just about every perceived wrong my spouse does against me. Why is it that easier to remember the bad things rather than the good our spouse does? In the list of characteristics of love the Apostle Paul gives us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 love is not supposed to keep a record of wrongs.
That is not a loving thing to do.
A loving thing would be to forgive the wrongs done against us by our spouse because we are called to love our spouse. We should forgive the wrongs done to us by our spouse even more so because the Lord forgives us of our sins we have committed against Him.
In looking at the story of Hosea and Gomer, Hosea could have kept a record of wrongs against his wife but he decided not to. He reading her from her life of sin brought her back into a relationship with him.
I’d be willing to bet that you would be able to write down a list of all the things your spouse has done to annoy or even hurt you. It would probably even be a good list.
Likewise, your spouse could do the same for you. It’s much easier to remember the bad but we are not called to remember the bad but remember the good and forget the bad.
An Eye Opening Relationship Advice Exercise
Stop where you are reading this relationship advice and grab a stack of sticky notes for yourself. If you don’t know what a sticky note is, it is a 3” x 3” square piece of yellow paper with adhesive on the back of it.
Take one of the Post-it’s and right at the top “Things that annoy me about my spouse” as a title for this list.
List all of the things that annoy you about your spouse on to this sticky note. Take about five minutes to complete your list. Use multiple sticky notes if you need to in order to complete your list.
If you’re like me, the first two or three items came very easily and quickly.
After the fourth item on the list, I had to really think hard about the other ways my spouse annoyed and hurt me. I finally got to number five and ran out of things to list.
When I did this exercise myself, I was excited to be able to write out all the problems my spouse has been giving me. I thought “oh yeah, now I can finally get this out the open and show her how much I had to put up with.
This list is just for you and not for your spouse to see. These are issues within yourself that you will eventually address within yourself and would only hurt your spouse if they read it. Be sure to not let your spouse read it. In a few minutes we will address all these issues together.
Now that you are done with all the things that annoy you about your spouse, let’s make another list. Take another sticky note and right at the top of it “things that bless me about my spouse”.
Now think about all the great things about your spouse that you can come up with. You may take some time to pray and ask for the Lord to soften your heart toward your spouse for him to reveal to you who your spouse is and all the blessings they bring.
With these two lists, take a few minutes to reflect on both lists and how they make you feel.
For me, even more than my first list of annoyances, this list of blessings flowed out of me quickly and easily. The second list actually doubled the amount of items than my first list and then some. It surprised me how much easier it was to come up with the blessings than it was for the annoyances. Blessing after blessing came to my mind as I was writing and I began to realize that I was holding onto the negative aspects of my bride more closely than the blessings.
This relationship advice changed the way I viewed my spouse and improved my marriage tremendously.
Don’t Dwell On the Negative Things You See In Your Spouse
Is it sad that we dwell on the negative things we see a better spouse and not the positive? If we feel like we’ve been hurt, we hold onto those hurts for a long time. The Lord will be the one to help you to move past these hurts and to look at your spouse as the blessing that they are to us. The key now is to focus on the positive characteristics about your spouse and move past the negative characteristics.
Let’s address the first list you created.
In reality, the things that annoy you and possibly even hurt you, only affect you. Even though you may be annoyed with these aspects of your spouse, another person may be completely fine with this same list. What one person sees as a weakness in other person can see is a strength so everything is in the eye of the beholder. This list of negative things about your spouse is holding you back from fully engaging with your spouse in the way God intended you to be in your marriage.
If you feel that your spouse’s negative characteristic is that they talk too much, this may cause you to shut down when your spouse begins to talk. Your spouse is easily going to see that you shut down when they talk. This may hinder them from talking about deeper and more vulnerable topics with you because they don’t want to get hurt. Your actions cause a reaction in your spouse, good or bad. If you react negatively toward your spouse, this will negatively hurt your relationship because you are closing off that part of you from your spouse which should be open to them.
Colossians 3:13 tells us to bear with one another in love and if one has a complaint against another we are to forgive as the Lord has forgiven us. This verse is speaking specifically for believers in Jesus Christ, and how much more so should apply to whom you are married with and have become one in flesh? You should bear with your spouse much more so than anyone else because one.
Keeping along the lines of forgiveness, how great of an act of forgiveness would it be if you were to look over these offenses? Proverbs 19:11
Do Something This Drastic to Grow Positive Feelings In Your Marriage
I have found that a key to a successful marriage is to choose to not let things bother me anymore. I could let my list of five negative characteristics of my spouse continue to affect me and my marriage negatively or I could choose to let these things go and give them up to the Lord.
If you are strong enough, I challenge you to choose to forgive your spouse and destroy that list of negative traits of either spouse.
I encourage you to take the negative list by your spouse and do something symbolic like tearing it up and throwing away or possibly even burning the list. As you’re doing this, pray that the Lord help you to fully forgive and help you move on from these things that annoy you about spouse.
Don’t wait, do it now.
Stop reading this relationship advice and get off the chair and destroy that list in whatever way you desire.
Once you have done this, make a resolution in your mind that you have forgiven your spouse of all the items on this list and to have the Lord help you to move past them. When I did this, I had a list of five things about my spouse that really got to me. Now, years later, I can only remember the first two things on the list and have forgotten the rest because they do not bother me anymore. The other two, I have given them up to the Lord for Him to change my spouse and to change me.
We Need to Change Ourselves Too
It is not just your spouse that needs changing, You need to look in the mirror and realize there are things about you that need to change. Even though you see all the negative things about your spouse, you may not realize the negative things about yourself. You both must choose to move past the negative things you see and forgive each other.
For me, praise the Lord that after years of marriage, those two negative things are being addressed by the Lord. It used to be that I would comment, criticize, and critique my spouse in these areas but now since I gave it all to the Lord, He is the one doing all the changes in my spouse. Likewise the Lord is the one doing the changes inside me to make me be a better spouse.
Being a Christ follower, each of us have the Holy Spirit who helps us change from the inside and out.
I cannot change my spouse in any way.
I can do my best to complain, criticize, and nag my spouse to change but that never works.
The other person I can changes myself but the Lord can change anyone. Along with destroying the list of negative characteristics about my spouse and forgiving them, I asked the Lord to help me to change as well as my beautiful wife.
Now with this list of positive characteristics of your spouse, what should you do with them? This is a list that you want to dwell on day in and day out reminding you how much of a blessing your spouse is rather than a burden. This list is something that you can share with your spouse if you desire.
It might be that you would want to put this sticky note on the mirror your bathroom, or the dashboard of your car or any other place that you see on a day-to-day basis. This list will bless you as you remember them about your spouse as well as your spouse fulfill blessed because they know how much of a blessing they are to you.
I took my positive list and put it in my wallet so I kept it with me at all times and was able to see it every day. Figure out what is the best way for you to focus on these positive characteristics of your spouse and be reminded daily how much of a blessing they are.
Remember this relationship advice; Marriage will get better as you overlook offenses and forgive your spouse for them.
How are you building positive feelings in your marriage? Do you have any other relationship advice to share with us? Leave a comment below.