Cultivating Peace in Marriage
Are you single? Never married, divorced or widowed are stages of life not many of us expect or anticipate. They can can often feel isolating or somehow less than. The very idea of cultivating peace in marriage when you are not married may seem inconsequential, and for you currently it is. If we were meeting face to face however, here’s what I would want to tell you:
“Do what you need to to be able to embrace this time. Grieve if you need to. Celebrate if you want to. Use this season to grow deeper into who God created you to be. Marriage is not a “have to” in this life. Your life is not lacking because there is no spouse. If you long for a spouse, that’s OK too. But, one thing all of us need to understand is that no human being can ever complete us. Only God can. So if you are single, He knows it and has a plan for you that is no less fulfilling than for the woman who is married. The information in this chapter is valid for a future relationship God may have in mind for you. As you read though it I hope that will encourage you to listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit, and not the voices telling you anything they makes you feel less than simply because you are not married. You are valuable to the kingdom of God. Period.”
To my married sisters here’s what I want to say to you if we were face to face:
“Your marriage does not define you. Your spouse does not determine your worth. Whether you have an amazing marriage or a failing one you are no more or less blessed, loved or cherished by God. Your value in the kingdom of God is in YOU, not how good your marriage is or how good of a wife you are. Learning to cultivate peace in marriage is not about making your spouse and marriage relationship into who/what you think they should be; it’s about allowing God to mold you into who He created you to be. “
No matter your marital state, there are a few things we can all learn about this important relationship. Chief among them is this: Let’s commit to championing each other as fellow women, not focusing on whether or not we are married, divorced, widowed or single (by choice or not). Instead, can we please learn to love one another and not compare, judge or criticize? When we do, I believe we do more to further the growth of women as a whole, making our churches, communities, and world a much better place than the alternative.
Here are the Key Points to remember when seeking to cultivate peace in marriage:
Conflict is inevitable in any relationship. In fact, conflict is healthy; its how we choose to handle conflict that can make the difference between growing cooler or further apart.
Expectations are at the root of most of the tension in a relationship. (Page 114) When we have expectations based on our own ideas about how a good relationship should look we bring in more chaos than needs to be in our relationship.
Our spouse cannot complete us; only God can. (Page 114-15) When we look for any other human being, especially our spouses, to complete us we cause chaos in our marriages.
Abuse in a relationship is NEVER ok and needs to be dealt with professionally. Please visit the National Domestic Abuse Hotline (www.thehotline.prg) or call them at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for help immediately if you are in an abusive situation.
Our marriages are not only a union of two; they are a union of three. (Page 115-16) We are better able to cultivate peace when we seek to build our relationship with Jesus first and let God show us what being the wife He created us to be looks like in our marriage instead of trying to create it for ourselves.
There are weeds in our marriages and beliefs about marriage that need ripping out.The transformation from chaos to peace in our marriages continues with identifying which beliefs in our marriages are weeds and replacing them with God’s truth, just as we have begun doing in our own personal lives. (Pages 117-18)
We have a choice to make in cultivating peace in our marriages: continuing to try to figure it all out in our own understanding, or invite God in to show us how to be the wife He created us to be. Cultivating peace in marriage is based on making the choice to allow God to transform us from the wives we are today into the wives He created us to be for the marriages we are in (or will be in).(Page 119-20)
The Four Key Principles of Relationships also apply in our marriages (Pages 122-139).
Submission (Page 122-127) is out of a love of God (Agape love) and requires an inner strength to obey God. We are not learning to submit for our husband’s sake; we are doing it for God and it will require His instruction for how to do so (which He will willing offer to us).
Respect (Page 127-130) is much more important than we think as women. To men respect is a source of love; when they do not feel respected they will not love. They are hard wired this way. When we offer respect we are given the unique ability to build our husbands up much more than any criticism or nagging ever could.
Forgiveness (Pages 130-134) doesn’t mean we have to continue allowing the behavior, forget it ever happened, or become doormats. Forgiveness requires strength to establish boundaries, new ways of communication, and a deeper level of trust in God’s justice over our own. (Be sure to see the Forgiveness Is list on page 132-33.)
Intimacy (Pages 135-139) is based on two components: emotional and physical connectedness. Women tend towards needing emotional intimacy in order to be willing to offer physical intimacy, and men are typically the opposite. We can experience a greater level of emotional intimacy with our husbands to more we believe God’s truth about ourselves.
The most important thing to remember in cultivating peace in marriage is to let go of trying to create a happy marriage in our own strength and understanding. Our vision is clouded by expectations, the past, cultural/societal factors and our ideals. Allowing God’s plans for our marriage to supersede our own is not weakness; it requires great strength to trust His ways over our own.
Whether you are married or not, learning to allow God to direct our steps in creating healthy relationships will make the difference between experiencing chaos or peace.
Here are this week;s assignments:(remember: every reply with a question, comment or critique enters you into a drawing for a free Personal Schedule Management Coaching program with me!)
Color-code last weeks Schedule Tracker. Once you do, reflect on how far you have come from our first week in terms of cultivating personal peace, keeping in mind that this is a process that will take a while to adapt into a routine.
This week, download another Schedule Tracker and continue with the practice of scheduling time with God daily so you can be nourished and filled up to be able to pour out into all you have going on this week. Also, be sure to keep focusing on adding some time for self-care. This week add to that some time for your marriage. Maybe a date night, or doing something for your spouse you know they will enjoy. At the end of the week, color-code your tracker and reflect on the following questions:
How is your relationship with Jesus developing?
How are you feeling about yourself? What would it look like if you were to make sure all your basic needs were met?
Was it easy or hard to carve out time for your spouse? Why? How is God speaking to you about your marriage through this?
Do questions 1-5 in chapter 5 of Digging Deeper.
Feedback Friday Question: Do you know how to fight fair in marriage? What does healthy conflict look like? Join me on my Facebook page for a brief discussion on this (remember, every time you comment on a Feedback Friday post it gives you an entry to a drawing for a FREE Personal Schedule Management coaching program with me!)