A roll-top desk is built into the cabinetry of our kitchen. It’s become the catch-all for mail, school papers, coupons, and spare change. The desk provides a quick and easy spot to stash our clutter—we can pull down the lid and pretend the whole ugly mess has disappeared.
In time the piles max out the capacity of the desk. I have to roll up my sleeves and dig in, sorting out ‘throwers’ from ‘keepers’ and bringing order to the chaos. As I shuffle through the stacks, it makes me think about other hidden issues in my life. What kind of “messes” am I avoiding in my marriage today?
Dealing with conflict takes work
It’s easier to ignore those nagging questions and concerns in the back of my mind. It’s safer to stay quiet instead of opening up old wounds. It’s less offensive to pretend I’m fine with my spouse’s opinions and choices. It’s less threatening to keep my negative emotions to myself, where they can’t be judged or disregarded. But left unspoken, secret hurts, fears, and desires grow into an ugly mess in our relationship.
Five Problem Areas in Our Marriage
Today is the day to tackle the tough work in our marriage. Here are five problem areas we need to consistently bring into the light:
- Plans and priorities: When two unique individuals join their lives together, a mismatch of expectations is inevitable. Marriage requires clear communication about all aspects of our finances, schedules, parenting, social lives, and hopes and dreams. When we don’t see eye-to-eye about our habits and decisions, our paths divide and we walk in opposite directions.
- Hurts and frustration: Most of the time we have no idea we’ve offended each other. Our heart toward one another is kind and our intentions are good. Even so, a thoughtless remark can make our loved one feel small. Busy days with little connection leave us lonely and insecure. Bad communication habits like sarcasm, interrupting, or distractions (put down the phone!) sabotage any sense of being heard and valued. Negative emotions can build until we find ourselves angry and far apart.
- Unforgiveness: Painful memories are hard to forget. Broken promises, fights, and disloyalty ruin trust and knock down our confidence in each other. When we look at our spouse, all we can see is hurtful sin and mistakes. We can hold onto a grudge until it grows into full-blown bitterness that wreaks havoc on the spirit of our heart and home.
- Grief and pain: Every person carries the weight of loss and disappointment. We can become more detached than we realize from our spouse’s inner world. We’re clueless about the depth of their depression. Pressure to perform. Fatigue. Sorrow over lost loved ones. Loneliness. Anxiety. If we bear our heart’s wounds in silence, we miss the comfort and oneness our marriage is meant to provide.
- Lack of intimacy: When our love life falls flat, it’s a sign our love is failing to thrive. We’re left vulnerable to insecurity, resentment, and temptation. Some soul-searching is needed, asking, How did we become too tired or busy for sex? Is emotional distance between us creating physical distance as well? Why isn’t intimacy a higher priority in our life together? Sex—or a lack of it—is a revealing sign of the health of our relationship.
We can grow complacent and turn a blind eye to the weaknesses in our marriage. But if sin, misunderstandings, and hurts continue to pile up, the “lid” will blow off eventually. It takes courage to take a hard look at our issues.
Do the Heart-Work
Today, let’s commit to doing some heart-work as a couple. We can begin by asking honest questions and making ourselves vulnerable. Let’s build trust by confessing our sins to each other and offering sincere forgiveness. Let’s pick up the undecided matters we let fall to the side. If we reach an impasse, let’s have the humility to seek wise counsel and advice. God stands ready and willing to help—investing time in prayer will invite his love and power into our home.Click To Tweet
A beautiful reward is waiting for our marriage. We’re going to experience a fresh dose of support and encouragement. Guilt and regret will lift from our shoulders. Romance will be kindled again. Laughter, fun, and friendship will grow between us. Destructive patterns will be broken. We’ll be set free to live and love with no barriers or fear. We’ll receive the gift of hope from God, giving us the confidence to overcome any struggle we face. Love will flow in, satisfying the desires of our heart.
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:11, 14)
Joanna Teigen and her husband Rob have shared over 25 years of marriage and life with five kids, plus a lovely daughter-in-law. They’re a neat-freak married to a mess, an explorer to a homebody, and an introvert to a ‘people person.’ But they agree their vows are for always, children are a gift, and prayer is powerful. Joanna is the co-author of Mr. and Mrs., 366 Devotions for Couples, 52 Date Night Ideas for Couples, and a variety of other resources to support your marriage and parenting. She looks forward to meeting you at GrowingHomeTogether.com.
Copyright (c) 2018 Joanna Teigen, used with permission.