3 Ways to Keep Offenses from Hurting Your Marriage
by Cindi McMenamin
If I asked you about your spouse’s “little offenses,” I’m sure you could give me a list. But over time, little offenses become big ones if we don’t learn how to let them go.
Here are some helpful tips for keeping offenses from hurting your marriage so you can experience more trust, more passion, and more communication with one another:
- Identify what triggers pain in your life.
A licensed marriage and family therapist, who sees couples in her practice every day, told me that people often react the way they do out of their pain. Certain words or situations will trigger pain in us and we end up reacting defensively. We get triggered and then we believe the lie—for example, that we’re not valued or we’re alone or we’re not appreciated or respected. The first step is recognition. We have to recognize and identify what is causing our pain. And most of the time your spouse is not the root of the problem. The problem is often connected to past wounds or present pain in your own life.
What triggers your pain? Is it the fear of being rejected? The fear of abandonment? The feeling that you’re being criticized or devalued? Do you get triggered by the idea that you are suffering by comparison or not measuring up to one’s expectations? Identify your fear and your pain. Name it. And then move on to the next step.
- Surrender your pain to the only One who can heal it.
Jesus is our only risk-free, safe place. He’s the only One who can meet our emotional expectations and heal us of our deep-seated wounds. Yet we often expect our spouses to be the cure-all for us and to know exactly what to say and how to treat us to eliminate our insecurities and treat or heal our wounds.
When we expect someone else to give us value or security or significance, we will always be disappointed. When we expect our spouses to heal our pain, they will fail every time. We can only find that deep sense of security and fulfillment from the Maker of our soul. Let Him heal those deep wounds in your heart by surrendering them to Him and then understand your true identity in Christ so you can not only combat the lies that say “you are unloved,” “you are insignificant,” and “you are incapable” but you can more easily recognize the lies your spouse might be believing, as well. The two of you can begin battling the lies of the enemy more easily when you both know you are firmly rooted and beloved in Christ.
- Practice grace and forgiveness.
Grace is the glue that holds the two of you together. To show your spouse grace and forgiveness, let go of your pride, and your insistence on being right, and humble yourself. James 4:10 tells us “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” And Philippians 2:3 instructs: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” It’s easier for us to let offenses go, and not take things so personally, when we are humble, thinking of others before ourselves.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of 17 books, all from Harvest House Publishers. Cindi’s husband of 30 years, a pastor, helped her write her newest book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband, which helps couples let go of the baggage that has built walls in their marriage so they can regain the love, trust, and passion they once had for each other. For more on Cindi’s ministry or to find resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.