Very often we push our spouses away without even knowing we’re doing it on a conscious level. Sadly, I’m just as guilty of clinging to many of these “12 Ways” as you might be.
In fact, I’d be better off telling you which ones I don’t struggle with than to name the long list of those I do! Suffice it to say, they are all a temptation for me and, when I take a step back, I see the alienation they create in my marriage. Worse, I see the damage they do to my love for my husband.
1. Argue and compete with your spouse. Instead, link arms and tackle every issue as a team.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. —James 4:1-2
2. Make your kids (or job, etc.) the priority in your life. Instead, make God your priority and your spouse second only to the Lord.
You shall have no other gods before me. —Exodus 20:3
3. Ruminate on your spouse’s weaknesses and sins. Instead, focus more on his/her positive characteristics.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. —Philippians 4:8
4. Criticize and tell your spouse how s/he should change instead of praying for him/her in these weaknesses, as well as praying for humble insight into yourself.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. —James 1:19-20
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. —James 5:16
5. Let your heart wander and fantasize about how much better it would be to be married to someone else instead of cultivating your love for your spouse and looking to God to fill any void.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. —Matthew 5:27-29
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. —Heb. 13:4
6. Don’t give your spouse your undivided attention and interest when we’re together, instead of engaging with our mates by actively listening and being present with them.
To answer before listening— that is folly and shame. —Proverbs 18:13
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. —Romans 14:19
7. Allow your personal desires and comforts to trump your spouse’s needs/desires. Instead, die to your own desires by humbly and sacrificially giving to him/her like Christ gives to the church.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ. —Phil. 3:7-8
8. Correct your spouse or make fun of him/her in front of others. Instead, build him/her up, affirming your mate in front of your friends and family.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. —Ephesians 4:29
9. Let “dating” like you did in the past with your mate fall away and be replaced with tasks and busyness. Instead, take the time to stoke the embers of romance, turning them into a full-blown blazing desire.
Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages. Let us go early to the vineyards to see if the vines have budded, if their blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates are in bloom—there I will give you my love. —Song of Solomon 7:11-12
In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church. —Ephesians 5:28-29
10. Collect bitter ruminations, allowing this to darken and dampen your desire for your spouse sexually. Instead, regularly forgive and give yourself to your mate through sexual intimacy.
The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. —1 Corinthians 7:3-5
11. Indulge laziness and give yourself over to a sense of entitlement, feeling like divorce might be the perfect escape from hard work and your marriage woes. Instead, “shut the door” to this easy ideation, recommitting and persevering in your marriage by humbly accepting your spouse’s flaws and human frailties.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. —Romans 15:7
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God —Hebrews 12:1-3
12. Allow your church and pursuit of God to be replaced by a life crammed with activities and social commitments, instead of making God our priority and building our marriages on the bedrock of Christ.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. —Hebrews 10:24-25
Take a moment and evaluate how much you might be pushing your spouse away. Then begin to pull them close to you once again by doing the counter suggestions above! And a great place to start is with #12. Make God your priority and He will enable you to love your spouse with His perfect and magnetic love, drawing your spouse to you once again!
Which one from the list do you struggle with the most?
Which one do you need to avoid or need to pursue in your life/marriage?