The Bumpy Start
Am I glad there were no cell phone videos back then! I would never want to relive some of my earlier moments as a bride. Let me be honest, they were certainly not productive for a healthy marriage. Faithfulness and self-control would NOT be descriptions of my behavior back then.
I remember one of our arguments that first year. The context of the fight is lost on me but I can vividly recall being so angry with him that I wanted to “get even”. If I was that upset, I wanted him to feel that same level of emotion.
Because my husband was much more frugal than I was, I devised the perfect tactic for paying him back. He was already in bed so after having joined him, my husband noticed a sound. He asked me what it was and I triumphantly replied,
“That’s the hot water running.”
(I had come to bed leaving the hot water running in the kitchen.)
“Yep, that’s right…..money down the drain! Take that you so and so!”
My husband and I can laugh about it now but it was anything but funny at the time. My inability to exercise faithfulness toward my husband’s best interest and self-control in my own reactions caused a strain on our marriage.
Although I gave way to the full vent of my emotions back then, it didn’t do anything except make matters worse. What may have been challenging for us in a discussion escalated into a full-blown fight. My volatile emotions brought unhealthy patterns of behavior into our relationship.
Mind you, I was not the only sinner in the home. Kyle brought his share of issues to the table too. We each needed to exercise faithfulness and self-control if we hoped to make our marriage last. This goal would be accomplished as we both responded to conviction from the Lord. We soon realized that if we continued down the path of immaturity and selfishness, we would find ourselves among the statistics we hoped to avoid.
Because we were believers in Christ, He was faithful to convict us of our sin, leading us to leave behind what wasn’t working and take up patterns of behavior that would work. If we were to succeed, we needed the Spirit of Christ to bear fruit.
Over the years, there have been many more arguments that tested our resolve as a couple. Even after 29 years of marriage, we have conflicts occasionally and I don’t suppose we will ever be completely argument-free since two sinners do live in the same household. But conviction has led the way to change and for that, I am so thankful.
One of the best things I can say about my man is that he is committed. He perseveres with me and is always willing to listen and work on any issue that needs to be addressed in our marriage.
He has not given up, nor have I.
Through the years, we have evolved as a couple and it is due to the growth in our faith. We are not the same people who entered marriage at 22 and 24. The Spirit of God has molded us from what we were to who we are now. Kyle and I seek to be faithful to one another at the expense of ourselves. Self-centeredness has transitioned into self-control.
The change has not been easy but it has sure been worth it. We recognize that we have broken free from patterns set long ago. Only by God’s grace are we able to relish this new season we are in as empty nesters while still enjoying one another’s company. Through God’s redemptive work, faithfulness and self-control now mark our relationship.
The Holy Spirit has been our guide, teaching us what would work better in our marriage. He taught us what faithfulness looks like in a healthy relationship. It refers to loyalty and trustworthiness.5 Healthy Habits for Faithfulness in Marriage Click To Tweet
5 Healthy Habits for Faithfulness
- Accountability– Kyle and I learned we should not give a free pass on unruly behavior. Sin is progressive when tolerated or ignored. Silence equaled acceptance so we learned to establish healthy boundaries as a couple. If someone crossed the line, the behavior was addressed, sometimes at a later date when we were both calm. Faithfulness toward one another meant that we prioritized the best interest of the other. It is never in another person’s best interest to ignore what contradicts God’s Word. By bringing the “ugly” into the Light, it allowed sin to be rightly dealt with which honors God. Faithfulness meant that we encouraged one another toward love and good deeds.
- Pursuing Christ– By pursuing Christ and what honors Him, our devotion for one another was fueled. Our own relationship flourished as we each grew in our respective relationships with the Lord. We longed for maturity in our faith which had a direct correlation to our marriage. Faithfulness to Christ transferred into faithfulness toward one another.
- Fearing God– Because our own motivation for faithfulness to another “sinner” can wane, our fear of God helps keep it strong. Kyle and I know how fickle feelings become. One day the love is palpable with gushy feelings, the next day we wonder what we were thinking when we agreed to “love, honor and cherish” one another. We both believe God will never bless betrayal, infidelity or selfishness. We may feel like we can get away with something hidden or secret from one another but we will NEVER get one by God. God promises to curse disobedience and bless obedience to His commands (Deuteronomy 28) so that pretty much settles the matter. If we want a good life, we better respect God’s thoughts and ways.
- Recognizing the lie– Kyle and I are motivated to remain faithful to one another as we recognize the lie of sin. It ALWAYS costs more than we would want to ultimately pay. It NEVER delivers what it “promised”. Lies come from satan and we know he is the father of lies. We understand he wants nothing better than for a marriage to disintegrate. Whatever is tempting us that contradicts God’s Word is harmful to our marriage. Whether it is another person or our selfish nature, the lie will not satisfy like fulfilling God-given commitments will.
- Default Setting– Our decision-making isn’t moment by moment in regard to our loyalty and trustworthiness. We have pre-determined, for ourselves, that we will do what is right no matter what. We will not base our choices on the actions of the other person. Our spouse can always let us down and we understand that two wrongs don’t make a right. Our default setting is to be upright in the eyes of God and others. Because we are bought at a price by the blood of Jesus Christ, we recognize our obligation to make our decisions based upon that, not in retaliation over what has been done to us by one another.
Self-control has been just as important in our marital changes. It refers to restraining passions and appetites. As we learned how to exhibit better self-control, our conflicts greatly reduced. Faithfulness and self-control really go hand in hand, working in conjunction with one another.
We have seen 2 practices that increased our ability at self-control. Consistency with these made a huge difference.2 Keys for Self-Control in Marriage Click To Tweet
2 Keys for Self-Control
1. Time with God– Kyle and I found that when we did not spend time with God in devotions, we were less able to exert self-control. We simply didn’t have it in us to change the behaviors we wanted to address. Our own self-will was not enough to stop unhealthy patterns nor bring about the behaviors we wanted in exchange. The fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, self-control) seemed an impossible goal through our own abilities. A transaction needed to take place through time with God where He sanctified us. Christ purified our hearts and minds as we sought Him whereby we were/are enabled to see the changes desperately needed. No matter how worthy the goal of improved behavior, it simply wouldn’t happen other than Christ doing the work in us as we followed hard after Him. If we never spend time with God intentionally, I don’t think we can call that a relationship anyway. Just as I may be married to Kyle on paper (marriage certificate), if I never actually had personal communication or time with him, is that really a marriage?
2. God’s Word– The power to break the chain of sin is found through Christ alone. The ability to withstand temptation is provided through His Word. It is not like any other book. Hebrews 4:12 AMP explains why God’s Word is so effective in our lives. By consistently reading God’s Word with the intent for growing in faith through obedience and application, we were/are each transformed progressively which impacts us as a couple. Self-control is a hopeless cause apart from the transforming power found through the Bible.
The New Norm
My husband and I readily admit that apart from the Lord and His work in our hearts and minds, we would not be where we are today- two people very different from how we began our marriage. Faithfulness and self-control are enjoyed as we continue to practice these key principles that we have found made such a difference for us.
In and of ourselves, we would have been just another statistic by now. To God be the glory for the change He has made!
Please join these fabulous ladies for their posts on how to grow the fruit of the Spirit in the workplace, friendships, and parenting!
Mamaofthreeboys.com – Sue Chacko
Couragehopelove.com – Nicole Kauffman
Livingfreeindeed.com – Dani Munoz