Dr. Harold Sala
Guidelines For Living
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. James 3:9-10
Opposites attract, but when there are too many differences, opposites repel. He likes to sleep with the windows open; she likes them closed. He’s a night person; she’s a day person. He prefers country western music; she likes classical. She’s well organized; he’s a “take-it-as-it-comes” person. Before they married, they both admired in the other the very characteristics which later became annoying.
Over a period of time those differences in personality escalate to cold-war status. Discussions become arguments, and temperatures rise. Each expects the impossible of the other. Instead of attacking the problem, individuals attack each other. Neither is willing to compromise, thinking that yielding is losing–when both are losing far more than they realize.
The joy of “first love” is tarnished. Romance is replaced with rebuff. Love is still there but it’s wounded and bleeding. “Can this marriage be saved?” asks the advice bloggers who dispense advice quite freely with no personal stake in the results.
Dr. Paul Popenoe, known as the father of marriage counseling, believed that any marriage could be saved when two individuals want it to work. I’m convinced that he was right. Needed, however, is a large dose of commitment along with a massive infusion of self-discipline. When a couple realize that a marriage is going the wrong direction and they understand that selfishness (I gotta win this one!) threatens their future, and are willing to recognize that what is happening is nothing less than sin in the eyes of God, some strong measures can turn the situation around. The following guidelines can reverse the trend.
Guideline #1: Tackle the issue, not each other. Realize that harsh words, name calling, statements that belittle or denigrate the one whom you pledged to “love and cherish till death us do part” must stop. Can you stop, once a habit has been established? With God’s help you can.
Guideline #2: Learn to communicate your feelings. Instead of saying, “You…” say, “This is how I feel when you do this.” Think and think again of the consequences before you say, “You…” For centuries the Sphinx stood in the shadows of the pyramids outside of Cairo, but today the image of the grand old monument is badly pitted and scarred. Soldiers, not realizing what they were doing, used it for musket practice. The damage is done. Get help with talking about feelings now before even more harm is done.
Guideline #3: Refuse to let a relationship with one you love degenerate to a battle of sharp words. Take the words of James 3 and put them on every mirror of your home. This powerful text reads: “The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body…. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (see James 3:1-12).
Most of the time you don’t really mean what you say. The answer is self-discipline. If you must, bite your lip until it bleeds, but refuse to say what you know will hurt the other.
Guideline #4: Focus on what counts–your children, your faith, your true feelings for each other. Budget time to be alone and to expand the solid areas of your love and marriage.
Guideline #5: Begin praying together every day; and yes, as you talk with God, swallow your pride to confess your failure and ask His help in being the person He wants you to be.
You have everything to gain and nothing to lose but your pride, which is a poor substitute for real love. Believe me, these guidelines can change your life.