I had an unrealistic expectation to begin with, but by never communicating to him what it what, he had no hope of showing me his love in a way that I could receive. To say that we have grown in the ten years following this horrible situation would be an understatement, but through God’s grace a ton of perseverance, we were able to learn how to communicate better, and create some rules of engagement in order to love each other deeper. And while these rules initially helped me to have a better marriage, they have also helped me have better, more fruitful relationships in every area of my life.
Believe the best in each other.
Always. I love how the Amplified version of 1 Corinthians 13:7 talks about how we should look for the best in others: “love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], and endures all things [without weakening].” When we approach difficult conversations, we purpose in our hearts to believe the best in the each other, knowing that hard conversations had with love don’t break us down; they build intimacy and trust.
Never be afraid to specifically ask if you have a need or a want. If you would like you friend to call before stopping by, or if you want your husband to take out the garbage, directly and kindly ask them for what you need. When we believe the best in each other, we are free to make our requests known without fear of hurt or offense. In Philippians 4:6 God himself instructs us to make our specific requests known to Him. If the Creator of the Universe, who knows our thoughts before we even give them words, tells us to ask, how much more important would it be for us to be specific and bold to those we love in an effort to live in harmony?
3. Listen Fully.
James 1:19 says this better than I ever could: “Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving].” We are always going to have to have hard conversations, and those difficult moments of pruning and stretching are where we grow the most. While it is easy to tell other people where they need to change, it can seem suffocating to be confronted with areas in our lives that need maintenance. When we trust others fully, we can open ourselves up to their words, but in order for correction to take root, we need to listen to hear, not listen to respond.
Stick it out.
Confrontation is hard. Change is hard. Growth is hard. Communicating and growing together with another person, either as a friend, a spouse, a parent, or a child is rarely cut-and-dry, and taken intentional effort to produce results. It can seem painstaking and sometimes it can be difficult to measure the result when you are in the midst of it. BUT! “Let us not grow weary of [become discouraged] in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap, if we do not give in. (Galatians 6:9 AMP)” Like the labor that brings a baby or the years of exams that earn a Doctor his degree, you will have a good reward for your effort!
I want to challenge you today to look at a relationship around you that is faltering, and pray about how you “find the gold” in that person and build your eternal treasure.