Commitment #5: We will deal with our differences with appreciation and grace.
From last week’s post about acknowledging our differences, it is equally important to then deal with them. Many times we develop unhealthy patterns to help ourselves through the discomfort of our differences. And from those times, we actually might not even realize those patterns are actually harmful for our marriage in the long run.
I know there are definitely patterns that Jordan (my husband) and I have naturally started from when we first got married. Some patterns we have broken, because we realized it was hurting us, and others have continued, because simply put, we aren’t even aware of them or know where to begin.
Let’s face it, when we realize our spouse is different than us in a specific area, it makes us uncomfortable. We can naturally name it as wrong, or we can choose to appreciate it. We can receive it with condemnation or with grace. Most time than not, it just feels like “not the right way, since it’s not my way.” So we then deal with it either by leaving the conversation, by making a verbal “jab,” or by just avoiding conversations all together. We might even pretend like the differences aren’t even real, leaving the couple in a “fantasy” world with nothing in the marriage actually resolved.
Change The Pattern
I am so thankful to have a resource like this book by Paul David Tripp. He gives us some insight about what has worked for some couples as they have needed to change their unhealthy patterns. The fact that we can change the way we think is amazing and so to now have the practical steps towards that change I know leaves me with an encouraged and hopeful heart.
The strategy below will help unify, strengthen, and grow your marriage in love and grace. You will begin to see patterns of understanding and appreciation rather than confusing and frustration.
A Road Map to Break the Pattern
- Face reality – I’ll be the first to admit, facing the truth of something ugly is very difficult. But I will also be the first to share that facing that something ugly actually brings something even more beautiful than before. It does us no good to cover the truth. I encourage all of us to embrace the truth more. Embracing truth will set us free to then actually help the issue be solved or even healed.
- Deal honestly with your anger – Anger denied will always come out in other ways. Owning all the emotions, good and bad, of what is going on will help the relationship grow deeper. The bad emotions are harder to talk about, but reveals a lot more, which will lead to a greater understanding between you and your spouse.
- Communicate in ways that are wholesome – Let’s keep this short and sweet. You want your spouse to feel loved, appreciated, and valued. So it is even more important to make a choice in your differences to communicate in ways that are kind and encouraging, so you don’t leave your spouse feeling unworthy or belittled.
- Run to your resources – We all have access to some pretty amazing resources. Especially those that are recommended by trusted family members, friends, or counselors. When you realize there is a specific way you are reacted to your spouse’s difference, go to your trusted resource for some extra help.
- Resist the lies of the enemy -During confrontation about differences, the mind becomes a critical instrument in either leading your marriage to a path of destruction or the path of flourishing. The enemy will attack us through our thoughts and what choose to believe is the truth or a lie. It is important to call our whatever the lies are. Even verbally speak them out and just laugh at them. Once you say the lie, you’ll probably want to laugh, realizing that thought was so untrue!
- Create something new -Re-establishing new memories is vital to creating and implementing permanent change. Once our minds lose something, like a habit or pattern, it needs something new to hold onto. Start beginning a new way to deal with differences. Start using kinder, more encouraging words. Or put your phones down and sit at a table, eye to eye, and talk about what emotions are going on and why. These new patterns will eventually take precedent over your old ones.
- Humbly admit your ongoing struggle – We all struggle. Admitting the struggle will immediately release your spouse to admit theirs as well. The environment instantly changes as you both realize, you are both broken and have a lot of work on, and openly have differences, which is okay. But you are choosing to learn more about your spouse which shows that you value your spouse more than yourself.
Facing the truth might not be easy, but when we can look it in the face and acknowledge what is really going on, we actually allow much more growth to happen. We always have hope. Even when we are stuck in the same monotonous cycle of pain and discomfort, we can still hope for a shift to happen in our hearts. We have a God who is able and is mighty to move in our hearts and minds if we allow Him to, and trust those who have been given the gifts of counseling and writing, like Paul David Tripp, for practical advice.
Write the 7 steps to practical change. As a couple, pick one pattern in your marriage you both would like to change. When you decide, put the 7 steps to action. Designate each day for one step. You will be spending a week total on one pattern, I recommend repeating those same 7 steps for the following two weeks. That equals 21 days. That is the amount of days needed for any habit to be broken.
There is always hope, we just have to believe.
AUTHOR OF THE MARRIAGE SERIES: Taylor Wild
Note: We do not hold degrees in psychology, nor are we doctors, but people who have a heart to share wisdom.
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Many thanks to the engagement creative team who helped in the celebration of two souls preparing to commit the promise of forever:
400 Film: Little Film Lab
Photographer: APRIL MAURA PHOTOGRAPHY
Dress: DAVID’S BRIDAL
Flower crown: PHOENIX FLOWER CROWNS
Makeup and hair: ALL DONE UP SALON