One of the difficulties in married life can be facing the reality that we ALL enter marriage relationship with preset expectations and life experiences. These ways of relating act like an operating system on our computer’s hard drive. We know an operating system helps run all the other programs on our computer. Our expectations and experiences help us “run things” in life and relationships.
If couples are experiencing arguments that are difficult to resolve, or if the tension mounts because there is a lack of understanding; what follows are some helpful steps in working towards growth and change in a Christian marriage relationship.
First, James 5:13 asks this question, “is any one of you in trouble? Pray.” Make time alone with the Lord a primary consideration in your marriage relationship and the issues that are of concern.
Next, seek out what God says about the problem. Search the scripture . . . access online websites or concordances to help you find a fitting verse to help gain understanding of the Lord, yourself and relationships. Heb. 4:12-13 says the Word of God is living and active . . . put the Word to work in your life as you memorize, meditate and pray the scripture for your situation. Also, this same verse in Hebrews mentions the motives of our heart. Ask the Lord to search your hearts as you both look to Him for help with relationship issues.
Be willing to invest in relationship with another Godly couple from your church fellowship. Philippians 3:17 mentions the benefits of “[joining] with others in following [Paul’s] example and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.” As you spend time in relationship with Christian couples, they can share wisdom from their own experiences and how they have changed and grown in marriage. Also, practice what they teach you and be vulnerable and accountable to them when necessary.
Lastly, if problems persist then be willing to discuss marriage difficulties with your pastor and seek out pastoral care. Philippians 4:9 quotes the Apostle Paul saying “whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Seek a pastor’s counsel and then be willing and patient as you do the work of putting that counsel into practice. Remember, when we accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, we receive the Holy Spirit who provides wisdom, comfort and peace. In Christian marriage, we have someone who lives inside of us and who comes along side of us during difficult times, the Lord Himself.
When we come to marriage with expectations, at times we consciously choose to do things the same way or purposefully do things differently than what was modeled for us in our growing up years. All relationships prior to marriage impact our marriage, whether positive or negative. There can be areas of wounding that we hide from ourselves or from others. If the above referenced steps don’t seem to be working and the problems persist, it might be the right time to seek professional help.
Marcie Scarrow, MS, LLC
Licensed Professional Counselor
Certified Biblical Counselor