Even though as a counselor I had to slog my way through lots of classes on Behavioral Psychology or Behavior Modification back in my old school days, I never really felt like behavior alone could create lasting or powerful change in marriage or relationships.
However, that’s viewing things from the inside out, like Matthew 15:18 talks about,
“But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.”
This reminds me that . . .
[bctt tweet=”I must change my heart in order to change my behavior in marriage.” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
So that’s exactly where I begin to work—on my heart—so that my change of heart quickly translates into positive and changed behaviors. It is in that place that my husband can feel the impact of the “outside in” . . .
My “outside” behaviors move in to his heart—changing the culture and attitude in our marriage.
How do we move from the heart to the start of a new culture and attitude in marriage?
[bctt tweet=”How do we move from the heart to the start of a new culture and attitude in marriage?” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
Here’s How I Change My Behavior for the Better . . .
1. Ask God to Examine My Heart
I do this as a daily part of my prayer journaling. A great prayer to pray is Psalm 139:23-24,
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
God is faithful to answer that kind of prayer!
2. Anchor My Prayers in God’s Word
I get the greatest insights from God about my heart not just by asking Him what needs to be changed in me, but by anchoring my prayers to whatever I’m reading in Scripture during that day. I take the passage I’m focusing on and consider how well I’m living that out in my life and marriage. #inviteconviction
The more time you give to this kind of examination of your heart, the greater the positive impact on your behaviors in marriage. And the best part is, your spouse doesn’t have to change behaviors at all for you to feel the positive impact of this on your marriage and life.
It’s not easy, by a long shot! But it is so very worth the effort!
3. Commit to Live Out the New Behaviors God Reveals
That’s probably the most important piece to have in place in this process, because if you are not open OR do not change in the way that God has revealed to you, your life and relationships will not change for the better either. In fact, I would say, they will only get worse. If that’s where you are, then the best thing to do is to ask God to soften your heart to the changes you need to make.
My Real-life Example . . .
There were a lot of years when I only focused on my husband changing his behavior in marriage. I would pray for that. I would scheme for that. And sadly, I would even question God as to why He wasn’t on my “change-my-husband-bandwagon.”
You would have thought that since I was making time for God each day, my heart would have changed, and as a result my behaviors would have followed suit. But it only seemed to make matters worse. That’s because, in my time with God, I was focusing on my husband’s heart and behaviors changing and not on my own.
4. Keep Changing for the Better No Matter How Little Your Spouse Changes!
This one takes moving back into that “heart change” that keeps this behavior bandwagon moving down the right track. It’s cyclical, in other words. You can’t sustain the positive behaviors that your marriage requires—especially when your spouse does not change for the better—unless you are returning to the loving embrace of Jesus for your refueling and healing day after day after day.
Today is the last in my Back to School Series—7 Lessons on Learning How to Love Well When the Winds of Marriage Grow Colder. If you missed the previous posts in this series, click on the link to view them all.
I’ll be starting a new series in October on Spiritual Warfare in Marriage with my 7 year Blog-aversary on Oct. 10th that includes a HUGE (insert Donald Trump voice) giveaway. Then in the following two weeks, I’ve got a couple of guest posts coming from Lori Schumaker and Leslie Newman who will be sharing their thoughts on this very important topic, so I know you won’t want to miss a single one!
Which of these four important behaviors do you need to improve on the most in life/marriage?
What hinders you from giving to your marriage in this way?
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