This November my wife and I began a new small group study based on Andy Stanley’s series Staying in Love . Over the course of four weeks we’ll be learning practical lessons that will help strengthen marriages.
We’ve already had a tremendous interest in the group at our church, so I thought it would be a good idea to sum up what we’ve been learning each week and share it with a larger audience. This is part three. You can catch up on part one, and part two here.
Isn’t it interesting that two people can stand at an altar and be so in love that they will commit to love each other “till death do us part” – and then just a few years later be standing in a court room getting a divorce?
How is it that two people who are madly in love can end up falling out of love?
Many times it can be traced back to our heart.
Solomon tells us this, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”. Proverbs 4:23
The truth is every one of us bring baggage into our relationships, and this baggage has a way of spilling out over time.
Since we have a hard time recognizing our own baggage, we often find ourselves blaming our spouse, when really the issue is us.
We think to ourselves if only he did this, I would be happy. Or if she didn’t do that, I wouldn’t feel so jealous.
We let our spouse’s behavior become the monitor for our emotional satisfaction, and we fail to realize how much the condition of our own hearts determines that satisfaction.
So, how can we fix that? Andy suggests four simple steps to apply before you react.
- Before you speak, think about what you’re actually feeling.
- Identify this emotion or reaction by name (anger, embarrassed, jealous, lonely, afraid, etc)
- Once you’ve identified it, say the name aloud.
- If and when appropriate, tell your partner how you feel.
This exercise may seem silly, but if you apply it, what you begin to realize is that a lot of your “marriage problems” are actually problems in your own hearts.
Once you identify where these negative emotions are actually coming from, it’s a whole lot easier to work through them together.
Why do we have such a hard time identifying the emotional baggage we carry in our lives? How can we get past this?