I talk a lot on my blog about how to address sexual issues with your spouse, how to speak about your longing for physical intimacy, how to pursue a stronger bond in the marriage bed. It’s often about making sure your interactions with your spouse are calm, unselfish, well-considered, loving, and respectful.
If only I took all of my own advice. Rather — like you — I have those moments in marriage when the stress of the day and the frustration of the moment and the pain of my heart all come together and I blurt out something completely unhelpful. Even though I know that “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1), I opt for the harsh word.
Or maybe I keep the words in my mouth, but they come out in an eye roll or a snort or turning away. I’ve also been known to mutter to myself, the tone of which could hardly be mistaken for anything but complaints.
This is not my pattern, but it is a failing of mine from time to time. And probably for you too. Likely you say something in a way you didn’t mean to say it, or you just lose your composure in a bad moment and declare something like, “For heaven’s sake, I need sex and you owe it to me!”
Or maybe it’s your spouse who does that.
In marriage, sometimes we blow it.
We shouldn’t be surprised. Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And 1 John 1:8 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” As my father used to say, “Even perfect people use pencils with erasers.” Because we all make mistakes. We all fail. We all sin.
And so, we all need grace.
Grace can be defined as “the unmerited favor of God toward man” (Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology). But we have in our Christian vernacular begun to talk more and more about giving one another grace, that unmerited favor. Certainly, as we seek to be more like Christ, we would want to approach people as Christ does — with an attitude of grace.
How do we adopt an attitude of grace? We pray for it.
Hebrews 4:16 says: “Let us approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Our time of need may be grace we need from the Father, or grace we need to give to our spouse. But when we approach God’s throne, we come there in prayer.
We ask God to help us show favor toward our spouse, even when they blow it. Just as we’d like our spouse to show favor toward us when we blow it.
So instead of immediately reacting to what your spouse says, or does, or how your interpret the words and actions, you take a step back. Feeling a sense of peace as you let God’s grace fill you, you can then ask questions about what your mate really meant. Or simply consider the possibility that their day went badly and they’re super-stressed. You can stop taking everything personally, like how he left things out that you would have put away. You begin to see better interpretations. You remember that your beloved chose you, loves you, and is still here with you — and that counts for something.
Looking at this in terms of your marriage bed, even a sexual rejection is often not personal. It’s not about you. It’s about the bad day he had, the exhaustion and stress he’s feeling, the testosterone that isn’t working quite like it used to, or maybe even the insecurity of feeling he can’t satisfy you completely. It could be about sexual baggage your spouse still carrying. Or that wayward glance at a pretty woman in the restaurant, while a poor choice, might have been a momentary lapse back to his pre-devoted-to-you days and he might be internally kicking himself for that one. Even in that heated argument when he finally erupts and says what you think he really believes deep down — that all he really wants from you is sex, sex, sex — it might not be what you think. It might just be his foot-in-mouth, we-all-sin moment.
How about we give each other some grace?
How about we pray for grace for our spouse?
How about we give each other some grace? How about we pray for grace for our spouse?
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One way to start is simply to ask God to help you see your beloved with the same unmerited favor God gives His children: Lord, help me to see my husband the way you see him. Help me to show grace in this situation and in our marriage. Give me your eyes, your heart, your love for my beloved. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
When your spouse blows it, try something like that. Pray for grace. You might be surprised how that will help you see things in a different light.
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