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Friday, March 25, 2011

In my last post I covered the importance of forgiveness and getting over past hurts. If your view of your marriage is dominated by the past wrongs, be sure to check this post.

Today’s post goes hand in hand with the last one, but I think that letting go of and getting healed from past hurts is somewhat of a pre-requisite to what I’m covering today: finding the good stuff.

If there is truth in the principle that “we become what we behold” then the things you choose to focus on in your relationship with your spouse are important. If it is true that we tend to be shaped and transformed by whatever we choose to fix our hearts and minds on, then what you “see” about your spouse and your marriage will significantly impact the strength and depth of your relationship.

To be clear, I’m not talking about becoming like your wife or husband in the way that desire to become like Jesus by drawing close to him and knowing him intimately. No, when I think of the becoming/beholding principle as it applies to marriage, I think in terms of our choice to either focus on the problems and pitfalls or to focus on the pleasant and praiseworthy.

Focusing on the Good Stuff

Marriage blogger Stu Gray, now blogging at his new site, has an audio presentation  that addresses of the importance of focusing on the “good stuff” in your marriage. It’s so true that for many of us, our human nature is to focus on what we don’t have, what we aren’t getting, what is lacking or missing in our lives.

Maybe you are like me. I am a problem solver by nature and by training as an engineer. My tendency is to look for the problems to be solved. What need fixing or improving? What is not done or done well enough? I tend to look for the lack and the need.

In engineering that’s a good thing. In a marriage? Not so much.

If you find yourself continuously looking at the negative side of things, seeing the problems and issues and the ways in which your needs are not being met, you are going to be stuck with a pretty dim view of your marriage. And that’s going to not only impact the atmosphere between you, it’s also going to hold you back from what is possible for your future.

If you keep looking for the faults and deficiencies in your spouse you will certainly find them. We all have plenty of flaws. But if we are to have a Christ-like love for one another, which we certainly are, then that love “covers a multitude of sins” and a multitude of flaws. Weak and broken though we are, when God looks at us through the covering love of Jesus, he sees us as perfect and flawless, a radiant bride “without spot or blemish.”

I’m not saying this is easy. No, it takes lots grace and love to see past the spots and blemishes of your spouse. But there is something profound that happens when you learn to love your spouse “as if” they were more ideal than they are today: they will tend to become that person. On the other hand, if you look mostly at the blemishes and failings, especially if you become accusatory, your spouse will tend to remain trapped in their flaws, or perhaps you’ll even push them in the opposite direction. .

This is Not Living in Denial

Now I’m not saying to just ignore the problems in your marriage and they will go away - quite the opposite in fact. Rather, what I’m saying is that you can either choose to focus in a frustrated and hopeless way on the problems in your marriage and the deficiencies in your spouse. Or you can simply acknowledge the issues for what they are, but choose instead to love your wife or husband in spite of the things they have not yet become. If you believe that God is loving them into their created destiny and into their full potential as a human being, why should you love them any differently?

To love your husband or wife into what you believe they can be, you must first believe what they can be. This means seeing them as God sees them. If you are going to strive for something in your marriage, rather than striving against problems, strive instead for an understanding of Gods view of your spouse. It has a miraculous power to propel your marriage forward and to help propel your spouse into their destiny in Christ.

As Stu reminds us, there’s a terrific Bible verse that gives us some good advice on the topic of what to focus on about your spouse and your marriage. :
Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
Phil 4:8 (MSG)

Think on these things.


Strong Man said...

Excellent as usual. In addition to seeing the good stuff in our partners, we can do the same with ourselves--and spend most of our time thinking about and working on how we can improve ourselves personally.

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