In my travels as a seminar speaker I meet many people whose marriages are on the rocks. The main line I often hear is “If only he (or she) would change, things would be different.” What then follows is the mentioning of several things that should change in their spouse that would then make the marriage better. In the next two articles, I will attempt to share what can be done to initiate positive change in our marriages.
Treating One Another with Love
A very wise person once made a profound statement: “if you ever look over at your spouse and wish that he or she were a different person, treat them like the person that you desire them to be, and they will become that person.” This is so true! Think about it: this is how God takes the first step in effecting change in our lives. The Bible declares that while we were yet enemies of God, He was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (Romans 5:8,10). God took the initiative to cause the needed change in our lives by first demonstrating His love towards us so that we might experience life-saving transformation and salvation. God’s first move of love was to send His Son to die for each of us so that we might be saved.
The Apostle Paul tells us that Christ was treated as we deserved to be treated so that we might be treated as He deserved (2 Corinthians 8:9). God made a conscious choice to treat us as people that we certainly were not, so that we could become people that He desired us to become—people that would reflect His love! John puts it this way: “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). What awesome power there is in love!
As we treat our spouses as people we would desire them to be, our acts of love, respect, kindness, sacrifice, and dignity will have the power to transform their lives, thus increasing the potential that they will become the person we desire them to be. You may ask: “Are you saying that one person can help improve a marriage?” My answer is: Yes, my friend, one partner can improve a marriage. Just as one person (Jesus) improved our human status, condition, and lives, we too through the power of His Spirit can have power to influence change in the one to whom we are married simply by the way we treat them.
The First Step of Prayer
I have found that a good first step in effecting change is prayer. You may ask: What should I pray for or about? Well, why not try beginning with Psalms 139:23-24: “Search me O God, and know my heart: Try me and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” You see, oftentimes there is something in us that needs to be changed first in order for us to see and impact a change in others.
As we allow God to point out and help us change the things we need to adjust in our lives, our hearts will be transformed by His love, and we can then move forward in our marriage relationship with the sweet disposition and approach of Jesus. This change in us and the new approach that He gives us will make life in our home bear the fruit of His transforming grace. As we pray, we should ask God to remove from our hearts any negative feelings that we have towards our spouse and to heal our hearts. Listen to the counsel of the Apostle Paul: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)
As we ask and allow God to remove from our hearts the emotions that are destroying our attitude and behavior, we will be able to see others through His eyes of love, mercy, and compassion, and treat them as He would. As we do this, the results will be tremendous.
The next step we can take is to confess any wrongs that we have done. Confession is not only good for the soul, it is a good ingredient for relationships. The Bible tells us that in order for true healing to take place in our relationships, we must confess the sins we have committed against one another.
A truly humble person will acknowledge his or her wrongs and ask forgiveness for how they have or are contributing to the problem. You will be amazed at what will happen when you approach your spouse with an attitude of admitting your faults as well as how you have contributed to the problems in your marriage, adding to that what you intend to do so that things can improve.
Will They Ever Change?
To make changes is not an easy task. However, there is One who can wonderfully and masterfully help us make the changes we need to make: His name is Jesus. The first steps that we need to take to see change in others is to prayerfully ask God what it is in ourselves that we need to allow Him to transform, and then to permit Him to do the work of transforming those areas of our lives. We must then adjust our attitudes by His grace, and finally we must confess any wrongs that we may have done. As we employ these biblical steps, God will perform marvelous acts of change in our lives, and our marriages will become a place of heaven on earth. Next time we will look at some more principles that we can follow to build lasting change in our marriages.
David Guerrero is the director of Rekindle the Flame Ministries, a nonprofit 501c3 Christian organization that seeks to aid the body of Christ in experiencing transformation of life through faith-based counseling, seminars, training, and newsletters. Please contact us at (715) 310-2196 or on the Web at http://www.rekindletheflameministries.org for more information on how we can help you or your organization.