Recently, I was disrespectful to my husband while we were at our small group Bible study, of all places! It was just that the direction my husband was taking during our discussion just got under my skin. So I sat there stewing—thinking of what I would say to him later in a private moment.
Apparently, the look on my face spoke volumes. He even asked me what I thought about a question he had directed generally to the group just minutes before.
I tried to evade his question, but he kept pressing me for more! The nerve of him! 😉
At some point, it all came spilling out in a rather negative way, regardless of my efforts to keep it bottled up. As soon as I realized what I had said, I also realized how disrespectful I was being.
Ironically, my quiet time earlier that day had been about how Jesus wants us to clean the inside of the “cup”—meaning “heart.” So I had made a commitment earlier to prayerfully examine my heart for sin in tempting and tension-filled moments of my day.
But did I think to do that during that moment? No, siree!
[bctt tweet=”I just sat there confused about what to do or say. Head to MM to find out what confused me. #slowlearner #springcleanyourmarriage #respectmatters” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
Sadly, I missed a golden opportunity to grow in my faith and respect my husband in the process.
Thankfully, I didn’t let this major misstep go on without taking responsibility for my careless actions and hurtful words. I decided to immediately apologize to the group. And later after my husband and I headed home, I apologized to him one more time for good measure.
A few days later, we talked about how to deal with this kind of situation better in the future. I didn’t dodge my guilt then either, and told my husband that I still was feeling guilty for how I had treated him.
[bctt tweet=”That was all it took to heal the wound I had inflicted to his heart. Head to MM to find out what I did to bring healing! #donotdodgeguilt #dodgeabullet” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
I say all that not to point out how great “I” was to apologize and take responsibility. It’s just that each step I took shows how to clean up and navigate out of a disrespectful moment.
7 key ways to clean up a disrespectful reaction …
1. Recognize the damage your words/attitude cause.
“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” —Proverbs 12:18
Stop and really imagine this for a moment! Every time you speak disrespectfully or recklessly to your mate, it’s as if you are stabbing his/her heart! How awful!
Instead, we can bring healing by doing the next step …
2. Ask God to guard your lips.
“Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” —Proverbs 16:32
We develop greater patience every time we prayerfully rely on God to guard our lips. He uses our patience to make us as mighty as a city-conquering warrior! That means we can gain access to our mates’ hearts, when we carefully consider what and how to speak to them first.
And if what we want to say to our mates is not beneficial, we might want to zip our lips altogether!
“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
3. Listen to understand, rather than trying to be understood.
When we focus solely on what we understand of a situation, rather than first considering what our mate understands, it blocks our view. Not only that, but it fuels our anger!
Consider James 1:19-20 …
“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.”
Once we show deferential interest in our mate’s understanding, the blockage gets removed. Plus, we gain the much-needed perspective for navigating toward a resolution. That’s something God always desires!
4. Look to God to meet your unmet desires.
Consider James 4:1-2 …
“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.”
This describes a battle over unmet expectations. We need to remove this burden from our mates and give it to Jesus instead. He has the broad shoulders to carry our burdens effortlessly.
So when you feel that ache rising up in a moment of conflict, reach out for God to meet your desire. If it’s a need that your mate can and should realistically help you with, pray for clarity on when and how to discuss this with him/her.
5. Ask God to conform your desires to His.
James went on to clarify another important step in this process …
“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” —James 4:3
Discontentment with our mates stems directly from asking God for the wrong things. Instead, we need to ask Him to change our wrong motives to right ones. Whenever I ask God to conform my desires to His, He gives me a peace that passes all understanding. And He will do the same for you! No exceptions!
6. Cover your spouse’s faults with love.
This miraculous act of applying God’s love to the hearts of our mates and others is discussed in Proverbs 17:9 (hover over to see the verse).
So when all else fails, land here—allowing God to love your mate and cover their sin through you.
[bctt tweet=”When all else fails, land here—allowing God to love your mate and cover their sin through you. Find out where to land at MM! #beautifulexchange #springcleanyourmarriage” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
7. Always apologize for your attitude soon after!
“[If …] you have been trapped by the words of your lips the words—ensnared by the words of your mouth. Do this, then, my son, and free yourself, … Go, humble yourself, and plead with your neighbor.” —Proverbs 6:2-3
My husband and I have adopted this as our default and commitment no.matter.what! We both apologize as soon as our hearts soften.
And I’ve discovered that the more often I do this, the easier it becomes because my heart grows softer with each effort.
Bottom line: I wish I could say that I won’t ever return to this tactic in the future. It seems to be part of the landscape that comes with being an outspoken person in a marriage where we both speak our truth much more than stuffing it.
But, trust me! I won’t back down from taking this lesson to heart. I will also keep these principles and steps active in my life moving forward. How about you?
Please feel free to click on the image below and download the prayer printable at the “…” in upper righthand corner. I hope it will be a prayer that strengthens your resolve to clean up every disrespectful moment, as well as showing greater respectfulness with your spouse moving forward.
What is one way you’ve “cleaned up” a disrespectful response you showed to your mate?
Which of these 7 ways do you need to incorporate the most into your marriage and life?
Be sure to join me next week in the “Spring Clean Your Marriage” series, when Sheila Gregoire of To Love, Honor and Vacuum will be sharing how to clean up a sloppy attitude towards sex in marriage. I hope to see you then! Check out the graphic below to discover the other fine bloggers joining me in this series …
Here are some other lovely linkups I join – Inspire Me Monday, Kingdom Bloggers, Literary Musing Mondays, Tea and Word Tuesday, Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story, Recharge Wednesday, Porch Stories Linkup, Welcome Heart, Worth Beyond Rubies Wednesday, Sitting Among Friends, Destination Inspiration, Tune in Thursday, Heart Encouragement, Grace and Truth, Faith and Friends, Faith on Fire Friday, Fresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday
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