In Marriage, Character Matters

Author:
Sharon May, Ph.D.


I looked up at my reflection in the window as I did the dishes. "Did you see the attitude of my husband?" I complained to God, anticipating compassionate agreement.

I heard God say to me instead, "Right now, all I see is your attitude, Sharon; and it is filled with defensiveness and resentment." I was shocked. I continued to wrestle with God in my thoughts. It is not fair! Why should I be nice when he has been critical? What was I to do?! Then a verse came to my mind.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23

God was asking me to become all He has for me to be, to be the best version of me. Then, live it out in all my life circumstances. Could I have talked with my husband in a kinder way instead of becoming defensive? Yes. Yet, truthfully, it takes so much courage and control from the inside, especially when we feel justified and when our reactive side is so automatic.

Each time we respond in a circumstance, it is like a sculptor's chisel shaping our character. Either carving out a negative-shaped attitude, sharpening up edges for a critical spirit, or shaping a defensive wall around our heart… Until our character has taken on that shape, and reacting negatively becomes automatic.

When you live life centered on God, you have a new sculptor's chisel shaping your character. It is the journey of becoming Christ-like, of becoming the best version of you.

In each conversation and conflict with your spouse, choose a Christ-like response, to be the best version of you. Strive to use self-control, slow down and share what you are really trying to say in a kinder way.

You don't need to yell or sulk. Let go of the small things. Talk about what is important. Don't stuff complaints, as they eventually spill out in resentment. Work to change destructive patterns.

Be patient. Forgive. Use kind words as you clearly state your view. Continue to do good to your spouse even though you have not yet resolved an argument. Hold onto hope for your marriage.

God will deal with the injustice and unfairness in your marriage. You don't have to get even or hurt back. And in the midst of all the strife, every day, find one thing nice about your spouse. Don't get lost in your hurt and forget to remember all the good. Giving thanks each day shapes a grateful heart.

God wants to grow your character, for you to be more Christ-like, so you will have the inner strength to be able to face and deal with each difficulty in your marriage, in the best way possible. To love your spouse well, your character matters.

"Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:22-24

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