Recognizing Progress Can Save Your Marriage

We’d just finished family fun night and tucked the kids into bed, their emotional tanks filled to the brim. Now it was our time to snuggle and bask in the warm fuzzies of an evening well-done.

Except by now, we were both weary and maybe slightly cranky.

We walked into the bedroom only to find a pile of laundry waiting for us on the bed.

I sighed.

I hadn’t meant to leave it there all day, but like most moms, I just got busy meeting all. the. needs. So there it sat, and as I flopped down to fold it, I spotted The Face, you know- the one that means your husband is a little miffed even if he doesn’t say anything.

Instead of following my better judgment and ignoring The Face, I immediately took offense.

Why in the world should he get mad at me – at least having laundry on the bed means that we actually have some clean laundry, which is no small feat after the week I’ve had! He should be happy that I managed to squeeze in a few loads here and there today. It’s not like I’m the only one in this house capable of folding laundry, anyways!

He should be thanking me!

Am I right, ladies?!

Of course, that line of self-righteous thinking led to an ill-timed argument, and what could have been a beautiful end to the day quickly degenerated into angry words and hurt feelings.

Conflict may be unavoidable in marriage, but you can look at the progress you've made within your relationship. It just might save your marriage!

Thankfully, after a long discussion and lots of prayer, we finally came to an agreement and went to bed with clear consciences that night (and folded laundry!).

But it hasn’t always been so easy in our marriage. In fact, we’ve spent so much time just learning how to argue well. That may sound funny, but it’s true!

I used to believe that every argument was a bad argument, and I often still fight that panicky feeling when conflict arises. Lately, I’ve learned that what really matters is not whether we argue or not, but whether or not we resolve the argument.

The truth is that conflict in marriage is unavoidable.

When two sinners join together in holy matrimony, we can hardly expect perfection, yet… we often do.

Part of learning to be a work-in-progress woman is also learning to be a work-in-progress wife, even as a pastor’s wife. I can’t expect perfection from my marriage just like I can’t expect perfection from myself or my husband. Those things just don’t exist on this side of Heaven, and if we believe that they do, then we’ve fallen for the lies of the Enemy just like Even did in the Garden.

What I can expect from my marriage is progress.

And this is where I’ve gone wrong so many times – I’ve failed to recognize that work in progress.

Friends, when you find yourself stuck in a rut in your marriage, look for the progress, large or small. Take notice. Write it down if you must. Reflect back on years prior and ask the Lord to open your eyes to the ways in which the He has changed the both of you.

Yes, you probably aren’t progressing as quickly as you hoped – I get that. Yes, you may struggle to find even a smidgen of progress in your marriage at the moment. But I guarantee that if you are both walking with the Lord, the progress will be there!

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” Jn. 15:5 (NASB)

In fact, learning to recognize that work in progress just might save your marriage.

You see, even though my hubby and I successfully resolved our late-night conflict, I was tempted to feel discouraged that we fought in the first place. Has that ever happened to you?

If I give in to that temptation, I grow discontent with what is actually a good thing – progress in the ability to resolve conflict and do so quickly!

Do you see how the Enemy so easily manipulates something good into something negative in my marriage?

Listen up, friends! Once you have asked forgiveness of your Lord and your husband, you have no reason to feel lingering guilt. Lingering guilt comes from selfish pride and Satan, neither of which have the right to rule you anymore as a daughter of the King!

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” 1 Jn. 1:9 (NASB)

Don’t give power to the Enemy in your marriage.

Quit looking at all of the wrong in your marriage and start recognizing the right!

I’m not advising you to ignore serious issues but to recognize and celebrate every iota of progress in your marriage.

When you notice the progress you’re both making, you’ll also appreciate him more. The more you appreciate him, the more he’ll appreciate you. Instead of a cycle of guilt and frustration over being “stuck,” you’ll create a cycle of mutual encouragement and cooperation that will propel you right out of that rut.

When you see the progress for yourself, you gain the strength to stay a little longer. You find some tangible hope to cling to.

That’s how learning to recognize progress just might save your marriage.

It happens one hour at a time; then one day at a time; then one week at a time; then one year at a time, until one day you find yourself remarking after a fight, “I’m proud of us!”

Keep your eyes on the progress, friends.

Save your marriage.

Jen 🙂
@Being Confident of This

Jen Stults

 

Sharing with Alisa Nicaud at Salt & Light, Arabah Joy at Grace & Truth, Susan B. Mead at #DanceWithJesus

Comments

  1. Great post. Perfect timing for me. Lots of encouragement from it and definitely made me feel like I am not alone feeling like, even though the argument was over, the enemy still tries to discourage me.
    Carmen | MarriedbyHisGrace recently posted…The One Thing That Keeps us United in Ministry. Guest Post-Hannah TYMMy Profile

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  2. Oh, this is a wonderful post! Progress. not Perfection. Yes! Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Love this post! Will definitely share. I’ve gone through two of the most difficult years in my marriage and yet, God continues to work! I hold onto the bright spots and pray through the storms. Thank you for sharing!

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  4. Thanks for this positive view of the hard times in marriage — and for solid advice for moving forward!
    Michele Morin recently posted…Declaration of DependenceMy Profile

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    Rebekah Reply:

    Great wisdom Jen is sharing, isn’t it? Thank you!

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  5. So often, I realise, I do not want to be forgiven…I want to be perfect. That thinking leads me to despair and discouragement when I should be rejoicing over my salvation and God’s forgiveness and redemption. I love this perspective of looking for the progress. And one day we will be truly perfect…not for my own glory but God’s.
    Ruth recently posted…Do you enjoy Rest?My Profile

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    Rebekah Reply:

    Oh boy, I am the same way, and it really took your words here for my heart to say, “Oh, yes, that’s what I’m looking for!” But you’re right – it leads to feeling discouraged. Our imperfections leave us needing God more. Thank you!

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