It’s weird how we can sit in cafes or walk streets, expecting everyone to be kind, even though most are complete strangers to each other.
We all just kinda know how humans are supposed to treat each other.
Most of us wouldn’t be too impressed with someone yelling at a customer or someone receiving a favor without saying thank you or showing appreciation of some sort.
We’d probably wrinkle up our noses and be happy we can walk on. Some people are just yuck and make us glad we don’t have to be around them.
And if someone continuously criticized a friend, that friend would probably either confront the problem, or quit hanging out as much.
Negative actions usually cause negative responses.
But, this simple principal seems to be forgotten by many spouses. So I’m writing from my heart here, and just asking this:
1. Do you ignore your spouse—yet get hurt when you’re not pursued?
2. Do you avoid conflict—yet remain bothered that your spouse doesn’t know how you really feel about something?
3. Do you continually give negative or correctional responses when your spouse shares an idea or simply vents his/her feelings—yet get hurt when they close off and don’t want to talk?
4. Do you avoid helping out—yet carry a grudge when your spouse doesn’t help as much as you want him/ her to help out?
5. Do you ignore them when they speak—yet feel hurt when they don’t look at you when they speak, but choose to focus on another person in the room?
6. Do you make your dislike of them known—yet become hurt when they don’t pursue you in the bedroom?
7. Do you treat them as little more than a room mate—yet complain when they don’t date you well on special events?
I’d like to call attention to the fact that people often treat strangers better than their own spouses. Strangers who may be a million times worse than your spouse, strangers with whom you have no connection—hear this carefully—are getting better treatment from some of you than your spouses are getting.
That very stranger would keep distance if you treated him/her as you treat your spouse. Withdrawing to avoid more pain is a natural response of the human heart.
There’s a story of a man who greatly disliked his wife and went to get counsel. His therapist told him that he could divorce her after three months IF he tried the following recommendation first.
He was to go home and treat her as if he genuinely LIKED her.
We can picture what this meant. Smiles, kind words, acts of service, hanging out, and all the things we do with our best friends.
His therapist waited in vain for the man call, then finally called him. He was ecstatic. “I treated her as if I liked her, and everything changed”
You better believe there was no divorce for that couple! Simple, basic human kindness and dignity re-ignited their love when it would have otherwise been snuffed right out and the courts would have seen one more broken couple filing divorce papers while their children’s eyes take on a whole other look than the care-free, joyful ones they previously had.
So I’m here to say to every unhappy spouse who is married to a faithful, albeit imperfect, person: Just take a big, bold dare to love them, and show it. This can be the bravest thing you do. And sometimes, this dare to actively show love does more than many hours in a counselor’s office.
(To those who’ve tried this and nothing changed, please know that loving is something we do because we’re connected to God more than because we’re connected to our spouse. Sometimes, loving well doesn’t change a drastic need in a spouse. In those cases, we simply do what God asks us to do, then leave the rest. We are not responsible to change another; we are responsible to love well, then trust God with the results.)
Remember this–we love because God loved us first. Loving well is something every person does who sees the value God places on each human being.
Loving well is not optional when we see the great love God gives us personally. Loving well is part of our own dignity, character, and value. In Christ, it is who we are. Someone else’s character cannot rob us of God’s character and grace within us.
Treat your spouse as well or better than you treat your best friends, and watch what happens! If you know what it takes to stay a friend to someone, please know it takes the same kind of thing to create a happy marriage where both of you find the companionship you crave.
For the cause of LOVE,