Are you punishing? Why not forgive?

Unforgiveness is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die.

Unforgiveness hurts me.

I am trying to punish them for the hurt they caused me. 

I may withdraw from them or not speak to them. 
.... Or I might say something hurtful back or do something to hurt them. 
.... Or I might say bad things about them to others.

Sometimes, they don’t even know that they have hurt me, but they may have hurt me intentionally. Regardless of the situation, God does not appoint me to be the judge or jury. I do not determine their guilt or punishment.

When I hold onto the offense, I am holding a grudge. The poison of unforgiveness grows into bitterness and resentment.

I am bound to the person who hurt me.

I am worn out from dragging that ball and chain around. That person has power over my emotions, especially my anger.

The unforgiveness turns me into a bitter person - not just bitter towards the person who hurt me but towards anyone around me. When I am full of bitterness and get bumped, bitterness spills out on those around me.

See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled. Hebrews 12:15

God is the one to punish the person who hurt me. He cautions me against taking revenge.

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord….. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:19, 21

Why not forgive?

If God commands me to forgive and forgiveness benefits me, why would I not want to forgive?

1. I want to punish the other person. 
    God says that is His job, not mine. God doesn’t punish me; He forgives me.
2. They don’t deserve to be forgiven.
    I receive forgiveness because of God’s grace; I don’t deserve it. I can show grace to others.
3. They didn’t ask for forgiveness.
    God tells us to forgive - period. It is not conditional. Often, that person doesn’t even know that there is an offense.
4. If I forgive, it sends a message that what they did was ok. 
    No, I can forgive the person without agreeing with the behavior.
5. If I forgive, they may do it again. 
    Yes, they might do it again. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that I don’t confront sin or express how I feel.
6. If I forgive, I may get hurt again. 
    Yes, I might get hurt again. Forgiveness doesn’t exclude putting parameters on the relationship.

SEE our previous post on forgiveness.

Do you want to change your future?

When you FORGIVE,
you don’t change the PAST,
but you do change the FUTURE. 
Author Unknown

Through the years of counseling, we have to come to the conclusions that:
  • A relationship of any kind won’t survive without forgiveness, 
  • Forgiveness (and unforgiveness) may be the strongest human dynamic. 
A key component in unconditional love is forgiveness. You cannot love without forgiving.

When we meet with couples in crises, unforgiveness comes to the forefront. Even Christian couples often fail to forgive.

What is forgiveness?

In a practical sense, to forgive means that I give up the right to punish another person for the hurt that person caused me and I won’t bring it up or dwell on it.

The offense will come to my mind but I have a plan for what I am going to do to re-focus when it does come to my mind. 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things(Philippians 4:8)

The more I dwell on an offense (especially without talking about it) the worse it gets.

We have many reasons for not wanting to forgive (see our next post). What we don’t realize is that unforgiveness hurts me more than it hurts the other person. In fact, many times, they don’t even know that there is an offense.

As long as I don’t forgive, I am in bondage to that other person; I am chained to the person and the offense.

When I forgive, I can throw off the chain and experience peace and freedom inside.

FORGIVENESS is not dependent on the other person; it’s between me and God.

In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. Ephesians 1:7

I can forgive .... because He has forgiven me.

I want to forgive .... because He has forgiven me.

I will forgive .... in the same way He has forgiven me - unlimited.

When God forgives my sins, He says that He will not punish me for them because Christ took the punishment, and He isn’t going to bring them up. He chooses to remember them no more.

He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
Psalm 103:12

What's the clash over money really about?

Money may be an inanimate object, but we attach great emotional significance to it. Money only becomes our friend if we as a couple learn to partner around the decisions related to money. One of the prerequisites for partnering in the matter of money is an understanding of the meaning of money to each of us. 
Dr. David Stoop and Dr. Jan Stoop

When someone’s background was one of financial insecurity - they never knew if there was enough money for life’s essentials, money wasn’t managed well - as an adult, they may be very frugal to make sure they have enough or they may repeat the mistakes of their childhood.

Money may represent security to some people. Saving money gives them security. To others, money represents prestige. What they buy with their money spells success. Some derive great pleasure in spending money on things to make them happier - whether they have the money or not. They will use a credit card to buy it or go into debt to have these things.

When these emotional ties to money clash, the marriage has conflict!

When there is conflict over money, that conflict is only the symptom of other issues. 

Whatever the reason is for the conflict, it cannot be resolved without healthy communication.

We must sit down and talk calmly, instead of arguing and yelling.

The conversation can start by asking questions (and listening to the answers) about the meaning of money. Some questions that we may want to ask:
   - How did your family deal with money - their values, 
   - who handled it, 
   - what did they teach you, 
   - what was painful, 
   - what brought joy?

Another reason for conflict is when one spouse tries to control the other with money. It is critical that the couple agree on a spending plan. Regardless of who executes the plan, agreement brings oneness and must include transparency in all financial matters.

Guides ….
Where do we start?
1. Acknowledge that God owns it all and you are the manager of His resources.
2. Seek God’s will on where He wants you to spend the money He has provided.
3. Agree to follow His will.
4. Find His will for your lifestyle.
5. Make sure your spending follows the lifestyle that God has shown you for you and and your family.
6. Spend less than you make.
7. Keep track of where you spend money.
8. Agree on a spending plan. Every dollar is designated before it is received.
9. Stick with the plan. That means that you have to continue to keep track of how you are spending money.
10. Honor God by giving back to Him and His work out of what He has given you.
11. Get out of debt and stay out.
12. Save for the future.

Read more about MONEY AND MARRIAGE: HOW to CONCUR here.

What you think you heard isn't what I thought I said...

Marriage is one long conversation, checkered with disputes.
Robert Louis Stevenson

Every couple and every person struggles with communication. It is one of the most challenging aspects of life. 

Remember - real communication cannot occur without understanding.

Somehow, we think that talking means that we have communication. Without listening and understanding, we have blah, ba blah, ba blah, ba blah ….

When we have a conversation, I have to focus on what you are saying to truly understand you, more than trying to make myself understood. If I do that, I have to really listen and ask questions.

We have to really work at understanding because there are so many opportunities for MISunderstanding. 

Communication flows -
  1. What I think 
  2. What I say (not always the same as what I was thinking) 
  3. What you hear (not always the same as what I said) 
  4. What you think about what you heard 
  5. What you say about what you heard (not always the same as your thoughts) 
  6. What I hear (not always the same as what you said)  ……. and on and on.
At any point in that flow, if I don’t really say what I thought I said or you don’t hear it correctly, we have a problem!

Most quarrels amplify a misunderstanding.
Andre Gide

Many conflicts in marriage or any relationship begin with a misunderstanding.

Several components go into communication, giving many opportunities for confusion and/or hurt.

The words - I use certain words to convey my thoughts. These words may have different meanings for me than they do for you. The most obvious differences are in different cultures. If you asked me to bring a torch to our campout, I would bring a stick with a flame on the end. But if someone who speaks British English asks me to bring a torch, I would bring a flashlight. That is an easy example.

But other words may bring different meanings to different people. If I say, “I don’t care,” some people take that literally while others think that I mean that I am ok with whatever the outcome is.

Then, my tone of voice and volume add another dimension to the words. If I speak in a loud tone, you may interpret that I am mad. Someone else may think that I am excited. Or the reality could be that I am hard of hearing!

Your filter - depending on the lens through which you see life, you may assign a motive to what I have said. That motive could be totally different from my intent. You have put a spin on it that I never intended. If I don’t agree with you or don't want to do what you want to do, you may take that as rejection - that I don’t like/respect you or that I don’t want to be with you.

Your response - in the same way, I may take your response or lack of response as a negative message about me.
To avoid misunderstandings: 
1. Assume good will. Instead of taking a negative interpretation of what I say, assume that it was not meant to be negative.
2. Ask for clarification. “That sounded hurtful but I don’t think you were trying to hurt my feelings, please tell me more about what you mean.” 

3. Ask questions. If you don’t know what I am talking about or aren’t sure, ask follow-up questions to expand your understanding. Simply say, “I don’t know what you are talking about” or “I am not sure I know what you mean.” 
4. Paraphrase what you hear. Paraphrase what you think I said to see if you really understand what I am trying to say. 

5. Stay engaged. Don’t stop listening when you think you know what I am going to say. Don’t shut down or attack.

The Basis ....
But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding. Job 32:8 

My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the meditation of my heart will give you understanding. Psalm 49:3 

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6 

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established. Proverbs 24:3

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives. Colossians 1:9b

We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true.  1 John 5:20

Money: Concur or Clash

Money was designed to be our servant, never our master. It’s to be used to build our marriage and family and to honor God. Getting a proper perspective on money is the first step to solving financial conflicts. Gary Chapman

Money can be a cord that bonds you together or a rope that strangles your marriage. Your marriage can move towards oneness as you concur on money or you can clash as you battle about spending.

Solving financial conflicts starts by agreeing on what God wants for us together. We concur on the financial goals and values. Our spending FOLLOWS our goals and values.

It’s not about what I WANT or what you WANT - it’s about what GOD WANTS to provide for the needs of our family.

I want to follow His guidance for my spending. When I shop, I don’t buy things impulsively to make myself happy (temporarily). We make a plan together for our spending. We show honor and respect to each other and God by sticking to His plan. When we believe that God is good, we know His plans are for our best.

For most couples, once they sit down and have accurate figures on the NEEDS of the family, the plan becomes apparent. This process can be emotional when we realize that we can’t have everything that we WANT. 

But when our real satisfaction and joy in life becomes doing the will of God, our “wants” change. We want our lives to honor Him. We want our marriage to be a picture of Christ and the Church. I want what He wants more than I want a bigger house or a newer car or the latest gadget.

The Truth about Spending ….

God owns it all.
The earth is the LORD'S, and all it contains…
Psalm 24:1a

We are managers.
‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.
Matthew 25:21

We cannot serve God and be devoted to money simultaneously.
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 
Matthew 6:24

Stay out of debt.
The borrower is slave to the lender. 
Proverbs 22:7b

Be content with what you have.
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:6
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
Philippians 4:11

See the next post about The Money Clash and some practical steps.

Heart of Infidelity in Marriage

If we seek from the world the pleasures we should seek in God, we are unfaithful to our marriage vows. And, what’s worse, when we go to our Heavenly Husband and actually pray for the resources with which to commit adultery with the world [James. 4:3-4], it is a very wicked thing. It is as though we should ask our husband for money to hire male prostitutes to provide the pleasure we don’t find in him!   John Piper

Infidelity starts with a focus on self - how does that other person make me feel? 

Marriage is a commitment to care most about the well-being of someone else - how does my spouse feel?

If I allow my mind and heart to consider the attention or affection of a person of the opposite sex, I am saying, “I didn’t mean what I said” ….. or “I can divide my devotion.” I am focused on how I feel, not on how my spouse feels.

The same is true when I am unfaithful to the Lord. Instead of focusing on who He is and His desires for me, I am focused on what I want. We are the bride of Christ; He is our Heavenly Husband. When I seek fulfillment and meaning in life apart from Him, I am being unfaithful to Him. [see quote above]

Where is my heart? Is my heart seeking the approval of others and the satisfaction of physical pleasures? 

The result is temporary happiness that becomes increasingly demanding to sustain.

I may choose to divert my attention or affections because of hurt from my spouse. My way of dealing with the pain is to pay back my spouse or to seek temporary happiness from another person - eventually to find out that person will cause me pain also.

Instead of spending time finding attention or approval from someone outside my marriage, I can invest that time in my relationship to my spouse with infinitely more enduring benefits.

My faithfulness to the Lord and to my spouse benefits me the most!


Can I protect myself from the temptations of unfaithfulness?

If you believe that you are not vulnerable to infidelity, you are deceiving yourself.
God tells me to guard my heart; everything starts there. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

That concept starts in my relationship to God. I guard my heart by spending time with Him, getting to know His heart and His character. 

The goal of faithfulness is not that we will do work for God, but that He will be free to do His work through us. Oswald Chambers

In Proverbs 5, God speaks as a father to a son warning him of the dangers of adultery.

Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house. (verse 8)

A foundational guardrail is to avoid situations or people that tempt me. I do not share personal thoughts and feelings with another person of the opposite sex. I do not let my heart be drawn to another person outside my marriage. I focus on caring for my spouse.


It is better to be faithful than famous.
Theodore Roosevelt

Faithfulness in marriage or at work does not come about because of the spouse or the job; faithfulness happens because of the character of the person that is faithful.

A marriage where infidelity shows up is a marriage where the vows are
discarded and the heart is is impulsive and careless.

Faithfulness starts in the heart. First, faithfulness is having a heart for God and being faithful to Him. Then, it is having a heart that is devoted to my spouse.

When a man gets married, as he says “yes” to his wife, he is saying “no” to every other woman in the world.

When a woman marries, she says “yes” to her husband and “no” to all other men.

My faithfulness is determined by my own character and integrity - not by the relationship. My faithfulness gives my spouse security in our relationship. Faithfulness lasts through bad times and good times, ensuring the longevity of the relationship.
When you ask someone who has been married 50+ years, what makes a marriage last and thrive? They will talk about their confidence in their spouse’s faithfulness.

Faithfulness is not just about a sexual affair but is about being devoted to my spouse in all areas.

I am faithful to keep my word to my spouse. I am faithful to pray for my spouse. I am faithful to care for my spouse in sickness or in health. I am faithful to be present and listen to my spouse.

Faithfulness reaps joy.


Our need is not to prove God’s faithfulness but to demonstrate our own, by trusting Him both to determine and to supply our needs according to His will. John MacArthur

God’s faithfulness to us is not dependent on our faithfulness to Him - but on His character. His faithfulness far exceeds anything that we can ask or imagine.

For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5

But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.
2 Thessalonians 3:3

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9


Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another. Romans 13:8a

A very positive trend in our culture today is getting out of debt. Many people are working towards being debt free. Financially, that path will give us a freedom that God intended for us to experience. [see below for the opposite idea]

But there is one debt that we can never repay - the debt of love. Not all debt comes because we have borrowed from someone. Indebtedness can come from the generosity of one person to another. If someone saved your life, you would feel in debt to him.

I owe the debt of love to one another - not because of what any one person did for me, but because of what God has done for me. He poured out His love to me when I became His child.
  • This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10 
  • But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 
I owe love to my spouse, not because of what he has done for me. Marriage isn’t about making sure everything is even. I owe love to my spouse because of the magnitude of love that God has poured into my life. I give that love to my spouse out of the overflow of God’s love for me.

We will never pay off this debt of love, but we can have great joy as we make payments.

In order to be free in the fullest sense you have to have opportunity, ability, and desire to do what will make you happy in a thousand years. …. The freedom of opportunity to do what we can, the freedom of ability to do what we desire, and the freedom of desire to do what will bring us unending joy... Therefore, true Christians are the freest people in the world.  John Piper

We can become enslaved many different ways.
  • Money - The borrower is slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7b
  • Sin - Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. John 8:34
  • Righteousness - You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:18
  • God - But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. Romans 6:22
To be free sounds more appealing than to be a slave. When we are set free by Christ, our slavery to sin is exchanged for slavery to righteousness.

The result of slavery to sin is death - spiritual and emotional. The results of slavery to righteousness are holiness and eternal life. 

To serve God, to love God, to enjoy God, is the sweetest freedom in the world. Thomas Watson


The desire for freedom resides in every human heart. And that desire cannot be contained forever by prison walls, or martial laws, or secret police. Over time, and across the Earth, freedom will find a way. George W. Bush

God gave us the freedom of choice from the beginning. He told Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden,” with one exception. Adam and Eve chose to abuse their freedom, indulge their own desires, and eat from the excluded tree.

God still gives us the freedom to choose. We can choose Him or we can choose sin. Whichever one we choose, we become a slave to those choices.

People seek political freedom, financial freedom, personal freedom, and ….

Christ wants to set us free from sin!

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:22-23)

How does my freedom affect my relationships - especially marriage?

To be free from sin does not mean that we are free to sin. That idea is a misunderstanding of grace.

Grace means that I now have the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. I allow Him to live through me. My family and others around me see Christ.

I don’t do whatever I want to indulge my own pleasures and desires. I minister to those around me, putting their needs before mine.

For Christ’s love compels us. (2 Corinthians 5:14)

Faith gives liberty [freedom]; love limits it exercise. John Stott


How free am I if I am not free from the bondage of sin?
We live in a free country, but that doesn’t mean that we can do whatever we want.

Many people are in bondage to what others think, other peoples’ opinions of them. While others are in bondage to financial debt. Some are in bondage to the enemy of our souls. Christ’s desire is to set us free from that bondage.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32)

I am the way and the truth and the life.  (John14:6)

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. (Galatians 5:1a)

True Love, Lasting Love

Love is a command, not just a feeling. 

Somehow, in the romantic world of music and theater we have made love to be what it is not. 

We have so mixed it with beauty and charm and sensuality and contact that we have robbed it of its higher call of cherishing and nurturing.
Ravi Zacharias

True Love …
You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.
Amy Carmichael

The way we talk about love is far from what love really is. 

Love is something we do. We may or may not always feel loving or feel loved, but the feeling or lack thereof doesn’t change the choice to love another.

We talk about “falling in love” as if it is something that happens to us against our will and with disastrous results. Think about song, movie, or book titles - Crazy in Love, Burning Love, Blind Love, Dangerously in Love, or Crazy, Stupid Love.

Love sounds traumatic.

We have an expectation of a romantic relationship (hearts, flowers, happily ever after) and of an accidental, emotionally wild ride at the same time.

What if we viewed love differently and talked about it more realistically?

Linguists, Mark Johnson and George Lakoff, suggest an interesting solution. They suggest we use a new metaphor about love, “a collaborative work of art.” This metaphor suggests that effort, compromise, and shared goals. It implies that we work together on the relationship and that there is beauty in it.

Love in marriage should be collaborative. But love can also be a one-sided commitment. 

If we truly love unconditionally, that means that we love no matter what. It doesn’t mean that we don’t confront sin and destructive behaviors or that we don’t share how we feel. True love means that I will love you as a person, even when I don’t agree with your behavior. 

Lasting Love ….

How do I make love last for a lifetime?

When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. C. S. Lewis
  • Love God! Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5
  • I love as God loves me. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34
  • Put your spouse before yourself. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. Philippians 2:3
  • Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
  • Be patient. Love is patient. 1 Corinthians 13:4
  • Accept each other; don’t try to change each other. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:7
See our previous post about Romance and Love.

Romance and Love

Romance must, by its very nature, deteriorate into egotism.

For romance is not a love that is directed at another human being; the passion of romance is always directed at our own projections, our own expectation, our own fantasies. In a very real sense it is a love not of another person, but of oneself.  
Robert A. Johnson

Even though this author studies Eastern philosophy, his analysis of relationships in our culture is absolutely accurate. The Bible is also quite clear that true love is a love that puts the needs of others first, not my needs.

Romance can certainly enhance a marriage; most marriages begin with a degree of romance.

What does ROMANCE really mean?

Thoughts of romance usually bring images of a couple looking deeply into each other’s eyes, in a special setting. That scene can definitely be romantic, but is only a small part of the whole relationship.

We talk about having a romantic view of life or of a profession or of an endeavor. When we say that someone has romanticized what it means to be a singer, actor, or artist, we are saying that the person only sees the fun parts, the adoration that comes with it. They don’t see the hard work and the long hours and even rejection that went into the profession before success followed.

Billy Graham says, “The word ‘romance,’ according to the dictionary, means excitement, adventure, and something extremely real. Romance should last a lifetime.”

Romance only lasts a lifetime when it is a complement to true love. [see our next post for more info]

What does romance look like? 

Facets of Romance ….

Young love is a flame; very pretty, often very hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep-burning, unquenchable.
Henry Ward Beecher

Romance and Love are often confused. Today, the precedent is often set with elaborate marriage proposals. The aspiring husband puts a lot of thought and planning into the proposal.

If that is just the proposal, how much more romantic will marriage be?

A romantic proposal has nothing to do with true and lasting love.

Ask a couple who has been married 10 years or more, “What is romance?”

They will talk about the little things - having a quiet evening together after a hectic day, brining home my favorite dessert, or even cleaning house together.

Signs of true love!

Overcoming Incompatibility

Incompatibility is now the basis for many divorces. The real reason for most divorces is a lack of commitment, not a lack of compatibility.

As explained in our last post, compatibility isn’t based on temperament or personality. We are all incompatible!

Think about who a person should be most compatible. Really, we should be most compatible with a sibling of the same gender. We were raised with the same background, similar experiences, same values, similar genetic make-up, and the lack of gender differences.

But is that the person that you would be most compatible? Most people would say “No!”

If we are not consciously working on a harmonious relationship in marriage, we will always be incompatible!

Dave Willis, a Christian author and pastor, shares the story about a friend of theirs who got a divorce. Later, she went on a dating website and entered her information. The person that came up as being the most compatible was her ex-husband!

The harmony of marriage doesn’t come from having the same likes/dislikes or enjoying the same activities.

People who consider themselves incompatible often sight relationship conflicts.

Their incompatibility comes from a lack of communication, from not being able to resolve conflict, and/or not showing respect and value to the other person. Two people will always have disagreements and annoyances in marriage.

Compatibility in marriage is about how you manage those differences.

“The similarities or personality traits that attract people to each other may not hold up over time. You might be attracted to someone because you both love to ski, but then one of you blows out a knee. When people are divorcing, they'll say, "We have nothing in common." But they have kids, a house and 30 years of shared experience. Values about money and children run very deep and are important. The surface ones—antiques, sports, travel and gourmet coffee—don't matter.” William J. Doherty

Composing Harmony.....

How do we get to a place of harmony in marriage?
  • Respect your differences, instead of criticizing the other person. 
  • Value the other person’s opinion and input. 
  • Assume good will. Look for the best in each other, instead of assuming a negative attitude. 
  • Communicate in a healthy way. If you don’t know how, make it a priority to learn. 
  • Resolve conflicts that need to be resolved. Agree to disagree about the others. 
  • Recognize that there is more than one right way to do things. Different isn’t wrong. Make allowances for differing personal habits. 
  • Focus on trying to truly understand your spouse’s point of view, their thoughts, instead of trying to prove that you are right. 
  • Seek to put the needs and desires of your spouse before your own needs and desires. 
Conceit is incompatible with understanding.
Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy


People can sing in unison or in harmony.
Harmony gives room for all individuals to express their gifts.
They play or sing different, harmonious notes at the same time.
In music, harmony gives beauty.

Marriage is the same.

Some people think that compatibility means that you are alike. No, compatibility means that you are not alike but that you can live in harmony.

Living in harmony means that ...
...We live in agreement.
...We are like-minded, even though we are not alike. 
...There is an appreciation for the gifts of the other person. 
...We have a rhythm in our marriage.

This compatibility and harmony in marriage isn’t present naturally. You do not go into marriage with it. It does not come from having the right personality traits.

Compatibility is what you create. You grow into that harmony.

H. Norman Wright, a Christian leader in the marriage movement, says that it takes 5-10 years to learn to be compatible!

For some of us, it might take 10-20 years!!!

To have harmony with another person, we start with harmony with God. I am in agreement with the will of God. I live consistently with what He desires.

To be in agreement with His will, I have to know His will. I know His will by knowing Him through His Word and prayer.

I seek to play my part in life and in marriage in harmony with the other players and with Him. I follow His direction as He conducts the arrangement of His Body. 

Harmony in the Spirit ….

Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him.  Hudson Taylor

God wants us to live in harmony with Him first and in harmony with others. He gives us His Spirit to help us.

May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.  Romans 15:5 (NLT)

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:16 (NIV)

Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace.  2 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT)