On this week's show, Ep. 62 | Husbands Who Work Long Hours, Laura and Emily discuss the importance of prayer and timing in "hard" conversations with our husbands. If you're still mulling over what that looks like for you, here are four questions to ask before you jump into that next discussion with your husband:
If you've been married for longer than your honeymoon, you know that a covenant marriage relationship includes conflict. In some seasons it's more frequent than others, and the severity can range from vow-hindering sin to the slight offense of leaving a trash can un-emptied. One great skill that happy and holy married couples possess is the ability to forgive, especially as they constructively approach difficult conversations. Lovingly approaching sins and hurts in your marriage isn't the primary change agent for your spouse's heart, but it can pave the way for repentance, reconciliation, and restored marital health.
Here are a few things to consider before jumping into your next difficult conversation with your spouse:
1. Have you prayed and waited on God?
Remember, there is only one person who can change a heart and rightly understand every situation - God himself. Our first instinct shouldn't be to fix our marriage conflict ourselves from our earthly perspective, but to seek wisdom from the word in prayer. It's amazing how sometimes just the act of praying can bring enough clarity to stifle the need for a 'difficult conversation' altogether. Praying about what is hurting you and asking for God's help can allow you to be lead by the spirit instead of your flesh or your feelings. If and when a conversation still needs to be had, it will be much more effective in God's timing preceded by a heart of submission to God's will. And remember that God's perfect timing might mean waiting days, weeks, months or more to gracefully approach something difficult.
2. Have you considered your own contribution to the situation?
In prayer and as you read the word, it will hopefully become obvious that you need Jesus just as much as your spouse. That you have sinned against a holy God in similar ways in other times of your marriage or your life. Most often, when I'm frustrated by something in my marriage and I stop to think deeply about my spouse's sin, I'm confronted with the myriad of ways I've failed God in the same area and I'm reminded of God's abundant forgiveness. From that lens, I'm able to refocus on the situation and consider how I might have contributed to some of the frustrations at hand. And even if I haven't directly contributed, I've already gotten the log out of my own eye so I can humbly discuss the speck in my spouse's eye.
3. Have you thought about how you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed?
The bible makes it clear that we are to treat others as we would want to be treated, loving them as well as we love our own interests - our own spouse is no exception! Would you want to be approached in an accusatory tone, feeling put on trial? If that answer is no, then it doesn't quite seem right to head into a conversation with your beloved that way. Instead, it might be better to recognize that you are both on the same team facing the problem as a couple. Proceed with care and caution, considering how difficult and embarrassing it can be to sit on the receiving end of a hard word. Ponder how you can lock arms with them, encourage them, preach the gospel to them, and grieve their sin alongside them in hopes of restoration.
4. Have you considered overlooking the offense?
Overlooking an offense doesn't mean, "It's totally fine that they did this too me" or "I'm going to avoid conflict by punishing them silently." But it does mean, "They sinned against God and me, but I forgive them, and I am going to trust God to work in their heart." Overlooking an offense requires discernment, because sometimes it's sinful avoidance of an issue that needs to be addressed. But in marriage, bringing every slight offense to the table would be overwhelming and discouraging. Consider the severity and frequency of the issue before bringing it up. It's especially helpful to think about their heart and intentions, believing the best in your spouse and judging their actions accordingly.
The encouraging truth:
For believing spouses who both desire to follow Christ and live according to God's word, these conversations can be a tremendous blessing (and so can the prayer and preparation leading up to them). When two people love one another, look out for the interests of the other and listen to the spirit's timing, hard conversations can go well and end well. And the best part? When we wait and trust God, he gets all the glory in the resolution.
*This was originally posted at EmilyJensenWrites.com in September 2015