Written by David Ake, Associate Pastor of Marriage Ministry at Stonebriar Community Church
SCREECH! BAM!!! CRUNCH…
We’re all familiar with the sound, feeling, and shock of an auto accident. The surprise, tensing, jolt, surge of adrenaline and the wave of frustration and anger we experience is soon followed by the inevitable question… What do I do now? There is a subtle irony that our auto insurance companies have streamlined the process of reporting accidents and getting help and repairs, while the relational “accidents” that happen in our marriages do not always get the support and practical help they need. Sometimes the error is our own, but many times we suffer at the hands and mistakes of others. What can we do and who do we reach out to when our marriage relationship hits a bump in the road or has a fender bender?
1. Slow down, stop, and get an accurate assessment of what the damage/problem is.
Just like with a traffic collision, relational accidents require us to stop and look. Many times, continuing on like nothing happened or attempting to patch things too quickly (we’ve all had some fun experiences with duct tape), we only make things look good on the surface, and we don’t really identify what’s broken, hurt, or out of touch.
Romans 12:3b (NLT2) says,“Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us…”
It is important to be able to be able to know how your partner’s head and heart have been hurt as well as your partner understanding where your heart and head may be disconnected or wounded. Honest communication and understanding will help identify what the actual relational break or pain is.
2. Spend the time and resources needed to get the repairs done well.
Ephesians 4:26–27 (ESV) says, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”
This passage is an exhortation against letting anger dwell in our hearts to the point that it builds resentment. A practical application in a marriage relationship is that resolving conflict (fixing relational hurts) take time and patience. Sometimes, you need the investment and perspective of a loving third party who can bring grace to convict and encourage you both as you do the work of healing, repair, and reconnection. When is this repair work done? It’s easy with our vehicle: we pick it up from the repair shop. For relational breaks, it’s when our hearts and minds are back in sync.
Romans 12:9-10 & 14-15 (NLT2) say,“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other… Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.”
When we come to a place where we can LOVE, ENJOY, and can be KIND to our spouse, the repair is holding and the connection is secure.
3. Know that your value to God and His love for you are not based on the health of your marriage (but your marriage can be a reflection of His work in your life).
Sometimes, accidents as well as relational breaks can bring serious pain, discouragement, self-doubt, and shame. We wonder if this will ever be able to be fixed or reconciled, or if we’ll be able to face the one we hurt ever again. Know that marriage is hard work, and relationships can be difficult to salvage and restore. However, remember that your heavenly Father loves you and your spouse, delights in you, and is kind to you. Sometimes, the repair work begins in our own hearts. We may find that we are incapable of reconciling and repairing the hurt to our spouse, but when the redemptive and life-changing love of Jesus takes root in our hearts, what we were unable to do on our own now becomes a reality because we simply love them and treat them the way God continually loves us.
Getting the help you need means reaching out to the Lord for your significance, reaching out to your spouse for connection, and reaching out to others for support and encouragement (and maybe the occasional ride) as we let the work of grace change us and our spouses to heal and restore when we encounter those bumps on the road of life.
If you would like to join our community of couples working to heal their marriages, join us for Marriage Core on Tuesday evenings. You can find details at stonebriar.org/care.
David and Jamie have been married for sixteen years, and David is still trying to figure out how Jamie fell in love with him. They have two daughters who have to hear all the time about how much Mom and Dad are in love. (They roll their eyes a lot). Jamie and David fight, hug, laugh, and kiss a lot in front of their kids, and they love how their kids ask them to leave on dates so that they can have their own “me time.” They pray a lot for the men that will show up at their door someday to take their own girls out on a date.