Marriage is a gift from God. But no one said it was easy, even for those of us who think we have it all figured out. You know the feeling — one minute, everything is hunky-dory, and a shining example of a safe and connected marriage and the next, one or both of you is upset. There can be some really complicated “stuff” that got you to this point, and what makes matters worse is that even if you are both committed to working through it, you aren’t always sure where to start. Most often we don’t start with the heart.
Here’s a tip from yours truly: couples should always start with the heart!
We’ve written quite a bit about matters of the heart in previous blogs. This includes diving into what every heart desires and asking ourselves if we listen enough to our spouse’s heart when it’s talking to us. If we’ve learned anything from those conversations, it’s that the heart should be the unequivocal starting point when we are having difficulties in our marriage.
This is the first in a series of blog posts that hopefully will help create some talking points to help you overcome conflict, take personal responsibility in your marriage, and improve your ability to honor and respect yourself and your spouse.
And guess what? It all starts with the heart!
See your relationship through the eyes of the heart
The heart is at the center of everything we do, feel, think, and desire — and the condition of our hearts will determine the quality of our life together. The heart is also the way God sees us, too. In biblical terms, the heart is the center of moral, spiritual, and intellectual life. It is the center of the human spirit.
The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward
appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. — 1 Sam 16:7
I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them
their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. They will be my people,
and I will be their God. — Ezek 11:19-20 19
So if God sees us this way and puts THAT much emphasis on creating a pure heart in all of us, then that should be the model for how we do things as a married couple. We need to look at the heart first. We must treat each other’s heart as a treasure that must be honored and protected.
If we do that and start with the heart toward our spouse, we will naturally show more:
- Grace and understanding
- Thoughtful action
- God’s love
God changes hearts. Start with the heart, and you will see what’s really going on
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth
that you confess and are saved. — Rom 10:10
All this results in a problem. Everything we just said above is that when couples face conflict over finances, issues of disrespect, decisions about their children, work-life balance, etc., they get too caught up in seeing the event as it is unfolding. They hear only what is being said, and more often than not, they react negatively to each other’s emotions.
Naturally, this leads to some pretty heavy feelings, reactions, and emotions. Do any of these sound familiar?
- Feelings that we are unloved
One might say after looking at that list, “okay, so it sounds like a behavioral change is in order.” While that may be the case, behavioral change is not what most couples need the most.
They need a heart change.
As we learned above, when God changes a heart, it lasts. It’s real. Conversely, behavioral change not only doesn’t last, but it can’t even happen without a heart change. When our heart’s desires are fulfilled, we enjoy better, more intimate relationships with God, ourselves, and others. Understanding what our heart desires helps us connect with others — especially our spouse. These desires are deep; we don’t necessarily understand them on a conscious level or where the source of the ache is. But we FEEL them and ache for them to be fulfilled.
What we are saying is that even the happiest of marriages face difficulties. To overcome those issues together, we can’t just look at what’s on the surface of whatever is going on in our relationship. All that stuff is simply what’s happening or what is being said. We need to start with the heart and look deeper — because there’s always more going on underneath.
Our heart is devoted to caring about people and marriages!
Our heart is devoted to caring about people. We want to ensure you have the tools to cherish each other’s heart and listen to it when it’s talking to you. The best way we know how to do that is by spreading the word to more people and let them know that we are here.
What do you think? Are you making a more concerted effort to start with the heart? How has that benefitted your marriage? Please send us a quick email and help us keep this conversation going. mike@MikeandSusanDawson.com