What I’m Quitting to Improve My Marriage

Have you ever planned something, thinking how well it might work, only to find out it sort of terrifies you in the end? That’s what I’m up against tonight.

A few weeks ago, I was discussing with my husband how keeping up on a certain type of current event really seems to put him in a bad mood. The discussion stemmed out of an earlier discussion he had with some acquaintances. In all my wisdom I suggested that maybe he take a break from this type of current event, just to see what he thought of his own attitude.

I could feel him bristling against my suggestion over the phone – yet he didn’t say no. When I got home later that night, I asked him about it. Turns out he was feeling a little panicky over the situation, so I decided not to press the issue.

A few days later, I decided to revisit the topic. I asked if he’d thought about it at all. He said he had.

I suggested a “fast” of sorts, from this type of news. Coming up to Easter, people often give up a certain food, activity, habit and I suggested that he and I could try this together. He could give up reading about this current event and I could give up…oh, what might I give up?

I'm quitting one thing - just one - in hopes of improving my marriage. What would you be willing to give up to improve your marriage?

 

My mouth ran faster than my brain, which, unfortunately, happens a lot.

What I said was, “You can give up this current event and I can give up saying anything negative to you.”

Now, please don’t get me wrong. My husband’s love language is words of affirmation, and I know this, so I try to speak positively to him. But when my emotions get ahead of me, it doesn’t always work out that way. 

He kind of chuckled. Nothing was decided that night, though we both sort of agreed.

One more time, in all my wisdom {sarcasm} I decided to approach the subject. After all, I just want what’s best for him. I asked him if he’d thought about our conversation. He had, and he agreed that we should try this. I asked him if he wanted to pick the thing I should give up. He said that he agreed with my first suggestion – I should give up saying negative and spiteful things.

Which brings me to my next point.

Lent is usually observed for the 40 days leading to Palm Sunday.

When my husband decided that I should abstain from saying negative things, I needed some time. I fluctuated from excitement that he was willing to try giving up his pursuit of current events, to absolute fear that I may really mess this up.

So we are not starting until tomorrow, February 16, which will give us 40 days until Easter. During this time he and I both will focus on this one aspect of our lives that can really make a negative impact on our relationship.

I know people normally give up food, alcohol, a luxury item, swearing – things like that.

The things we’ve chosen to give up are ones that we know (or have had pointed out to us) really impact the other.

We are in a rebuilding phase in our marriage. We’ve had damage done to our relationship and we’re choosing to fight and claw our way through to the other side, both of us doing work in our own lives.

If you’ve found yourself at a rebuilding phase as well, I want to share something that is currently a tremendous blessing to me. It’s a small plan called Grace Goals that gives a biblical approach to setting goals. I tried this last year and wasn’t quite at the point where I was ready for it. But this year, my heart is in a different place and I’m ready to give it a shot again. Care to join me? Read more here: Grace Goals

Because of the harsh things that have happened, it’s very easy for me to go into self-preservation mode and not really care how my words impact my husband. After all, he brought the damage to our marriage, shouldn’t he pay some?

While the world says, “YES! He should pay!” and even while I find myself thinking that sometimes, I come back to the thief on the cross.

Jesus could have condemned him – after all, He was fully God. The other criminal was apparently running his mouth, though, throwing insults at Jesus, telling Him to save Himself…and them.

The other thief answered,

Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.
Luke 23: 40,41

Only after his rebuke of the other criminal did he ask Jesus to remember him.

Jesus could have condemned him – the man spoke the words himself: “…we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds….”  Jesus could have said to him, “You know what you did – you’re going to depart from me and I will not receive you into my Kingdom.”

What did Jesus say, though?

Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.
Luke 23:43

No insults. No snippy remarks. No hot-headed angry rage. No spewing of hatred or condemnation for wrongdoing.

Only grace.

And I’m not there yet. At least, not as much as I want to be.

Most days it is very easy to extend grace to my husband. I have stood up against the enemy’s attacks time after time. I’ve lost a lot. My life has changed.

But in following what God has said to do, I’ve gained more than I could have hoped for.

Self-preservation is a necessary thing at times. Yet, when it changes from self-preservation to attacks on another, I fully believe it is sin. At least in my case, knowing my own heart, my own attitudes and actions.

I have spent the last week or so really getting my heart ready for this. I’ve had some pretty frank discussions with the Lord about how this sort of scares me. I’ve had those same discussions with my husband. I secretly hoped he’d say, “Okay, skip that – how about you give up staying up late instead,” (or provide some other easy way out).

But he hasn’t, and I know the Lord must be chuckling because I offered this giving up of sharp, snide, snippy remarks. Talk about knowing your own weakness…!

So, beginning February 16 and ending on Easter, my husband will give up reading up on, and following, a certain current event, and I will not speak in a negative manner.

It’s funny because we’ve done some hard things together these past 2 1/2 years. In fact, we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and we are rejoicing. This week our entire family was together in church for the first time in a couple years.

Dues and debts to society are being paid. Wrongs are being righted. Attitudes are changing. All of this is a testament to God’s unfailing love. We serve a big God who still – STILL! – brings about redemption.

These snippy remarks I make at my husband – they stem from a fear of the situation that we’ve been walking through.

The reality is, though, that there’s room for only fear – or only faith.

If I want to live in faith, to see my marriage grow, to draw closer to my husband in this season, I have to get rid of these words that have their roots in fear.

These kinds of remarks don’t honor God, they don’t honor my husband, they aren’t an example of what I want my children to say, but most of all, they come from a place of fear.

And guess what?

I don’t live there anymore! 

 

You can read the first update here: When Perfection in Marriage Just Won’t Do

 

 

Here are some resources you may appreciate:

The Power of a Praying Wife,

The Power of a Praying Husband

The Power of Prayer to Change Your Marriage

original image source 

Comments

  1. I love your heart so much, Becky. I know a bit of your struggle in your marriage and how you have fought FOR your marriage. I so admire the sheer tenacity that you have for your marriage. You are such a testimony of God’s love and faithfulness. May God teach you and your Man wonderful things in this season of giving up.
    Leah Adams recently posted…Ephesus ~ The Church That Lost That Lovin’ Feeling ~ A Revelation JourneyMy Profile

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    Rebekah Reply:

    Thanks, Leah – it is only God’s grace and mercy that we’re at this point, and I’m thrilled. If nothing else, I have learned that God can change hearts – mine included. And, I’ve learned that gratitude makes a WORLD of difference in our situations. Thank you!

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  2. Becky, this is encouraging and challenging at the same time. Maybe I will adopt this for Lent too. Or at least try to go one week first??? 🙂 May the Lord bless your marriage during this time. Thanks for offering hope and help today. Tweeting and pinning!

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  3. Thank you I needed this today. I have done pretty good since we have separated through the pain. He says it’s over but I’m still fighting in prayer. I need to remind myself those words of hurt won’t take the pain away. I pray God restores our marriage and softens his heart. I just get so scared even as a believer that it could all end 🙁

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  4. What a testimony to God for the redemption in your marriage!! Thank you for your openness and your honesty! What a joy and a blessing to see the power of God at work. God Bless!

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  5. There’s room for only fear or only faith – so very true, Rebekah! I enjoyed reading this, you certainly peaked my interest with your title and as I was pinning your stuff I was thinking, “Man, I’ve gotta read that one!”
    I will pray for you in this endeavor. You made me chuckle about hoping he wouldn’t ask that (maybe instead asking that you wouldn’t stay up so late), but I know it will be hard. I’m so glad you are seeing light at the end of the tunnel!!!

    Sharing this next week with my Fb readers!

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  6. So…will you write a follow-up post sharing what God has done through this time of giving up? I know I’ll want to know for sure!! I loved this post, Rebekah! But you know me…I LOVE the deep heart stuff.
    Aimee Imbeau recently posted…What I Found At His FeetMy Profile

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  7. I tried to not say anything negative for 14 days straight. I wore a bracelet that I had to transfer from one arm to the other and start over. It took me quite a while before I went 14 days without saying something negative to someone. I consider myself a fairly positive person, so I was surprised at how many times I was negative. If nothing else, this will make you more aware of what comes out of your mouth. While that’s a good thing, it’s also intimidating (at least for me because I talk – A LOT!). Thanks for sharing this and being so open! 🙂

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  8. good for you and what a blessing you’ll be for other marriages as you continue to choose faith over fear. my man in plaid once asked me if I was planning on being his Holy spirit! ouch! (but I was so good at it…) So still learning to keep my trap shut at 28 years of marriage.

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    Rebekah Reply:

    I think it’s all about grace! So far it’s definitely been a challenge, but I’m thankful for grace!

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  9. I agree with Aimee – I would love to see a follow-up post on how it went for you. It is a real struggle. I tend to let my snippy remarks out far too often and usually before I even think first. I am work in progress with you!
    Ana (@ANAWINSblog) recently posted…5 Ways to Be Your Husband’s Friend {Happily Married – Lesson 6}My Profile

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    Rebekah Reply:

    Hi Ana!
    Thanks for your comment here. Funny how hard it can be to choose kindness, unfortunately.
    The first update just went live today, so you can definitely check it out – http://rebekahmhallberg.com/perfection-in-marriage.html
    Have a great weekend!

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  10. I appreciate so much your transparency and frankness in this post.

    It seems the Lord is teaching me a lesson this week about negativity as this is the second post I’ve read about words of negativity and their impact.

    What a wonderful testimony your fast from negativity will be to your husband and family. (I can definitely learn from this!) I’m sure it will create a habit of positivity that will bless you immeasurably.

    Thank you for sharing. You have spurred me on!

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    Rebekah Reply:

    Thank you, Karen! I’m learning that it’s definitely not as easy as I’d hoped, but that grace is the key!
    It’s funny how God keeps bringing us posts to read that are on the same topic when He’s trying to get a hold of our hearts. 🙂 I’ve had the same experience that you’re talking about. Thank you for taking time to comment – praying for you this week!

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  11. I found you on the STC link-up. This is a great post, and I admire your openness. I wish you well in this journey. What a great thing to give up – and what a hard thing to do!! God will bless this, I am sure!

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  12. I would like to say that I agree we all need to look to Christ and be like him. I admire how you handled your husbands response. My first reaction was his response was not fair at all. To me he follows the current events because he enjoys it. He likes to stay current so that he can carry on conversations or just be up to date or for whatever reason it is a choice for enjoyment. His choice of what you should give up is assuming you enjoyed being negative instead of evaluating the cause of negativity . You made the point that his reaction to keeping up on the events caused his reactions that you didn’t admire. So to me you stop something that causes your negative responses, that’s not a compilation of multiple things. You gave him a specific thing to “fast” from. I do wish you well on your journey and is still inspirational for us all to refrain from negativity. Thanks for sharing.

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    Rebekah Reply:

    Great thoughts! I hesitate how much to share because this is my blog & not his. 😉 But his fasting from current events is because it does, indeed, cause problems. His approach to things can take on an addictive nature that pushes everything else *out* and causes a lot of problems in our ability to communicate. And it’s the same with my negativity. It can impede our communication. It’s not as easy as I thought it would be, that’s for sure! 🙂

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  13. Love this and just want to say you are not alone in fighting for your marriage and each of you working on self. God is good, faith is always better than fear! God’s blessings to you.

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