“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.“ 1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 8a (NIV)
If your marriage is like mine, you sometimes get stuck in a rut. Things may go along fairly smoothly for months or even years, but then you hit a pothole and get stuck. When you’re in that rut, it might seem like you’re constantly irritated with each other—or irritated with life, but you take it out on each other!
For example, let’s think of a car that’s stuck in a muddy rut. If I try to get out of this rut on my own, all I usually end up doing is spinning my wheels and slinging a lot of mud! Then the worst thing happens—I start to feel like a victim. I guess with all that mud slinging around I end up with some in my eyes, making it so that I can’t see things clearly or respond lovingly anymore.
So, how do I get out of that rut?
It begins, not with my husband doing better, but with me doing three important things:
First Step – Pray
Now this may seem like a no-brainer. But sometimes when I get in a rut, I feel so depressed that I turn away even from God. And that’s the worst possible choice I could make. He’s the only one who can give me the push or pull that I need to get out of that rut.
I start by telling God how I feel. And I can be just like King David was in the Psalms – laying my soul bear in all of my agony. But it’s amazing how God gradually turns my focus from my own pain to the pain I’ve caused in my husband. When that happens, I’m offered the first push to get out of my rut victim-mentality.
Second Step – Repent
Repent is such an old fashioned word, but the need for it has never gone out of style. When God reveals to me that I’ve become “easily angered, or a record-keeper of wrongs” then I have a choice to change my attitude with his power.
Repentance indicates going the opposite way. So when I’ve realized that I’ve become resentful in my attitude, I choose to confess this to God and do the opposite which is the next step…
Third Step – Love
This is where the rubber hits the road and I gain traction in my rut relationship. This step takes risking that I will be hurt, humbled or both, but trusts God to protect me when and if that happens. It takes choosing to believe the best about my husband when all the signs are pointing otherwise. It takes extending an unconditional love that finds its source only in God, otherwise it falls short.
Pulling out of a rut in marriage is never easy, but it is what God calls us to do. And thankfully, God gives us what it takes to get up and moving forward again.
“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Psalm 40:2 (NIV)