Grace in Marriage

In a grace-full family, church, or group, individuals receive messages that they are loved and accepted, valuable, and not alone to face life.  Jeff VanVonderen, Families Where Grace is in Place

Most of us have met people who seem to be full of grace.

They accept and encourage others. They are not critical or judgmental. They display kindness, compassion, mercy, and gratitude with an attitude of humility.

We are attracted to that kind of person. We want to be that kind of person.

How do I display grace?

My display of grace towards others has a direct relationship to my view of God’s grace towards me. (see more on that topic below)

The way that I was treated and taught as I was growing up influences whether I am critical and judgmental or whether I am full of grace and mercy.

What happens in a marriage and a family that is full of grace?

I will seek the very best for my spouse. I love him for who he is - not what he does. I can separate who he is as a person from his behavior.

I communicate to my child that she is loved, accepted, and valued. I won’t use messages that will shame.

To make this kind of attitude and relationship work, I will fill my heart with forgiveness by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in me.

If forgiveness is missing, I will retaliate for the hurt that I have experienced (we ALL experience hurt in marriage and with family). Grace and unforgiveness cannot live side-by-side.

Grace means that God is the source of my acceptance, love, and value. When He is my source, I don’t have to depend on others to meet my needs. Instead, I can meet their needs as an agent of our Lord.

God's Grace

Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines Him to bestow benefits upon the undeserving. A.W. Tozer

God’s grace to us means that Jesus paid the penalty for my sin. I can receive God’s forgiveness based on what Christ did, not based on what I did. He did it because of His love for me, not because of my love for Him.

As a result of grace, we have been saved from sin’s penalty. One day we will be saved from sin’s presence. In the meantime we are being saved from sin’s power.  Alistair Begg

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us.
Ephesians 1:6-8a

What happens when grace isn't in place? Read our next blog.


Recommended reading:
  • Families Where Grace is in Place and Tired of Trying to Measure Up by Jeff VanVonderen 
  • Be Transformed by Scope Ministries 
  • What’s so Amazing about Grace? by Philip Yancey 
  • Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine by Max Lucado

Marriage: Arguing vs. Disagreeing

Is there a difference between arguing and disagreeing? 

We ask that question regularly to couples. They all say “yes.” The next question is “What is the difference?”

We get all kinds of answers to that question. They usually have to do with tone, attitude, and high emotions! [see back]

DISAGREE

Is disagreement bad? No, disagreement is normal. There is actually a serious problem if you never disagree in your marriage. That is not to say that you don’t eventually come to an agreement on some issues or that the issue becomes a non-issue.

Two people, no matter how much they love each other and care about each other, will see some issues from different viewpoints.

It doesn’t mean that one is right and one is wrong. It means that you are different. You have different personalities and difference experiences. You will have different opinions.

Those different opinions can add to the richness of life and the relationship. ….. If you let them!

You may remember the classic story of asking six blind men to describe an elephant. They each touch a different part of the elephant - tusk, leg, trunk, ear, belly, and tail. Each described something completely different but they were all correct in the description of what they felt.

Often, there is more than one right answer or more than one right way to do something.

Early in marriage, couples often disagree about things such as how you load the dishwasher, how you fold towels, or how to hang a roll of toilet paper. There is not a right or wrong way to do any of those tasks.

We can agree to disagree on some parts of marriage. We can learn to understand each other better. But there are some differences that need to be resolved.

MY SPEECH

In every disagreement in your marriage, remember that there is not a winner or loser. You are partners in everything, so you will win together or lose together. Always work together to find a solution. Dave Willis

I approach the disagreement as a problem to be understood or solved, not as a battle to win.

When we disagree, the way we speak is critical. A disagreement can quickly escalate if the volume increases or the tone of voice changes.

If I keep my volume the same, the pitch and tone the same, then my words can be heard more easily.

Then, I use kind words. A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

ARGUING

The more arguments you win, the less friends you will have.

To answer the question: What is the difference between disagreeing and arguing?

When I argue, I am trying to convince the other person that he is wrong and that I am right. I am not seeking to understand. I am not seeking to have a respectful discussion.

I cannot show respect and listen to the other person while I am arguing!

Most arguments begin by a strong emotional reaction to something that is said, because there is something under the surface in a person’s life that causes the reaction.

[Read more about that below.]

Once the emotions kick in and the tongue takes off, reason leaves the head!

You will have disagreements! You can decide ahead of time what you are going to do when the disagreement arises.

To avoid a strong emotional reaction to a disagreement requires planning and conviction from the Holy Spirit.

Satan wants to divide us. He wants to destroy marriages and take God’s glory. The Holy Spirit shows me that my spouse is not my enemy; Satan is. My battle is not with my spouse, it is with the real enemy.

A plan - when a disagreement arises:
  • I will not receive the difference in opinion as a personal attack, regardless of how it sounds at the time. 
  • I will listen and seek to understand my spouse’s heart on the issue. 
  • I will speak calmly and with respect. I will not attack my spouse. 
  • I will look for areas of agreement on the issue.
  • I will affirm my spouse and his opinion, even when I disagree.

UNDER the SURFACE

The root cause of conflict [is] unmet desires in our hearts. When we want something and feel that we will not be satisfied unless we get it, that desire starts to control us. If others fail to meet our desires, we sometimes condemn them in our hearts and fight harder to get our own way.   Ken Sande

If my goal is to convince the other person that he is wrong and that I am right, then the argument becomes about who is right or wrong. I can’t afford to be wrong, it is too threatening to my own self-worth.

The argument is now about whether you value me and care about me. The fallacy behind this premise is:
  • Disagreement does not mean that I don’t care about you or value you or respect you. It means that I see the situation differently. 
  • Disagreement does not mean that you are wrong and that I am right. 
  • Another person can never be agreeable enough, supportive enough to make you feel good about yourself. Only God can do that. 

God doesn’t love us because of our worth, we are of worth because God loves us.  Martin Luther