It is NOT Personal

It is so sad how easily we take what our spouses say or do so personally. Throw in some off tone and body language, and the relationship is in dire straits. Why are we so quick to jump to conclusions and assume the worst? Is that love? 1 Corinthians 13:5-7 in the Amplified Version states:
5[Love] is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. 6It does not rejoice at injustice but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. 7Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].
Love is supposed to believe the best in our spouse. After all, since they did agree to the “until death do us part” of the marriage covenant, you would think we would naturally give them the benefit of the doubt. Sadly, this is more often not the case.
Paul David Tripp says in his book, What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage, “when you personalize what is not personal you tend to be adversarial in your response.” I know early in my marriage when my wife would show even a little irritation I would immediately think she was upset with me. Then I felt I needed to defend myself and address it. I would think to myself, “I can’t let her get away with this.” When I would confront her, she was obviously not in the best of moods already, and in most cases, she was just wanting an empathetic ear. Here I was getting defensive and confronting her and consequently, we would then slip into an argument. Often this would impact our relationship for days.
Instead, I have learned I need to extend grace as Christ has extended it to me. I have to remind myself that my wife is a sinner, like myself, living in a sinful world, where life is hard and unfair, with a devil that is running around pouring gasoline on the little fires burning inside her and me. Some verses to meditate on to address these moments:
  • Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11
  • Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others [your spouse]. Ecclesiastes 7:21-22
  • A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
  • Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. Proverbs 16:32
  • Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:13
Want to know what is really funny? I have learned that when I apply these verses, extend a little grace, not take what she says to heart, overlook the offense, and be quick to forgive, the vast majority of the time I have discovered that she was not upset with me at all. Five minutes later she is in my arms and we are enjoying our time together. I laugh to myself, “It happened again, I thought she was upset with me, and she was just upset.” I cannot believe all the angst we could have avoided earlier in our marriage if I would have done my part to pursue peace (Romans 14:19). Why do I have to learn everything the hard way? That part is NOT funny. Hopefully, you can learn from the errors of my ways.

by Michael Burner

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