Moving forward: 3 healthy responses to offense in marriage
Offenses don’t just happen in your marriage; offenses occur in all marriages. You are not alone.
But how do you respond?
Are you the angry wife? You know, the one who stomps around your home angrily cleaning hoping your spouse will get the hint.
Are you the dangerous wife? The one who uses offense as ammo, shooting down any attempt of intimacy.
Are you the controlling wife? The one who refuses to do anything or give anything unless everything goes your way.
Are you the loving wife? Oh, she’s the one we all want to be. Of course, we all want to think we are the loving wife, but learning how to navigate through offense can be rather challenging.
Let’s be honest. Words wound, disappointments pierce your heart, and unmet expectations hurt intimacy. Offenses just feel yucky.
Thankfully, we don’t have to stay there.
So, when the offense happens (and it will), we can learn to respond with the three P method: Pause, Pray, Practice.
Pause before you speak.
Anytime we experience offense in marriage, words can be carelessly spoken, and walls can be built around our hearts. We allow small moments of irritation to become big explosions of anger. Before you find yourself there, PAUSE.
Proverbs 17: 14 “The start of a quarrel is like a leak in a dam, so stop it before it starts.”
Pausing is a sign of self-control and maturity. When we walk in self-control, we have time to recognize the offense, time to acknowledge our emotions, and time to reflect on how we can respond in love. We get to stop the fight, the irritation, or the separation before it even starts. In the pausing, before we speak, we can take time to reflect, asking ourselves some hard questions.
- Why am I offended?
- Did my spouse trigger an old wound?
- Am I over-reacting or taking things too personally?
- What is a healthy solution for moving forward in the future?
In the pausing, we can turn our walls of offense into an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to give us revelation.
Proverbs 19:11: Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
Taking time to pause before you speak allows you the time and space needed to go to God in prayer. When we walk in offense, it’s easy to turn our sight on the wrongs of our spouse. We see what they failed to do, the ball they dropped, the groceries they forgot, or the compliment they didn’t give. The one moment becomes added to the multitude of ways our spouses have shown their frailties.
Praying allows us the time to seek God for clarity, peace, and direction. When we pray, we allow our hearts to be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We learn how to lay aside our pride for love. We are led how to dig deeper instead of disconnecting. We clearly see the battle is not with our spouse, but with an enemy who seeks to destroy our homes and our family. Prayer is the way we fight for our marriages.
Practice showing grace and forgiveness OFTEN.
When we hold on to anger, we allow resentment to build a wedge in our marriages. Then just like that we’re using words as weapons and withholding sex and affection preventing real intimacy and fellowship. Instead of cultivating love, we use tactics of manipulation, causing our spouses to feel shame, guilt, and anger. Once we step into the offensive zone, we lose sight of extending the grace Christ so freely gives to us.
Practicing showing grace and forgiveness often to our spouses is easy to do when we stop to remember all Christ has done for us. When we start to take for granted the grace God has freely given to us, we begin to move in critical, judgmental ways. Friend, this is a dangerous place. Instead, always remember how much Christ showers His love and grace upon you DAILY. Your gratitude will create an overflow of love and grace for others around you.
You don’t need to address every action. You don’t need to have a conversation about every incident. Ask yourself, do you want to be right, or do you want to imitate Christ? If we’re going to walk in daily fellowship and intimacy with our spouses, then grace and forgiveness must be our language and our way of living. Choose to forgive and let the offense in your marriage go.
In most relationships, our spouses don’t wake up intending to offend us, but life happens. Stress, frustrations and unmet expectations show up in unplanned ways shining a light on cracks in our marriages. Areas the enemy would love to use to create discord. Just remember, you are addressing the offense not attacking the person. You and your spouse are one unit. When we choose to address the offense in marriage, we are addressing the behavior not defining the person.
Remember, don’t be afraid to reach out for help from your church pastoral staff or a licensed marriage counselor for additional support. We can choose to resolve offense in marriage in a healthy way.Your marriage matters.
Cheering you on,