God said it was not good for anyone to be alone.
He did not say, “It is not good for anyone to be without a spouse to control, manage, and shape into what he or she wants.” Yet, many people dominate and control their spouses according to what they deem best for their own world. But, eventually, these people end up in exactly the position God said wasn’t good: alone.
The reality is that reckless or sinful behavior against your spouse will eventually mean your spouse will retreat from you. It’s common sense that if you are not pleasant to be around, you will not have people who want to be around you. That is the natural consequence.
A spouse who is treated recklessly and sinned against, then coerced in whatever way—spiritually, emotionally, physically, etc.—to stay in the relationship, is doubly harmed. This sets up a context of dissonance and confusion, which will not work out well for the relationship. We try desperately to find the kind of connection we picture in our minds. But trying to make that work with divisive, oppositional, and incongruent behaviors will eventually lead to some sort of death— a death of the relationship, of dreams, of a sense of self, etc.
How to Strengthen the Connection with Your Spouse
As you begin this new year, take stock of what’s ahead. Have you thought about the trajectory of your relationship? Are you intentionally giving your relationship vital nutrients to help it flourish into the good which God intended? Or are your actions moving you toward becoming more and more alone?
There are several ways you can help make your relationships deeper. Here are a few suggestions:
- Stop doing whatever is breaking your relationship. What are the ways you manage and control the other person or try to make them who you want them to be? How do you silence their voice, concerns, hopes, and/or thoughts? Where are you deceptive? How deep does your self-protection go? The greater your self-protection, the less anyone can connect with you.
- Figure out what is underlying your anger and deal with it. Anger management has nothing to do with making the other person change. It has everything to do with addressing your own internal environment. Dig up the roots of whatever it is you feel entitled to be angry about. What are you fighting for? What are you fighting against? If you want to have a healthy marriage, the number one goal should be whatever it takes to move toward connection.
- Evaluate your internal filter. What are your automatic, unspoken responses to your spouse? Nonverbal cues have a greater impact on a relationship than spoken words. In a healthy relationship, both nonverbal and verbal reactions are mostly positive. Take an inventory of your gut responses to your spouse. Do they tend toward negative, such as fear, suspicion, self-protection, or anxiety? Or are they more positively oriented, such as affirming, curious, or inviting?
- Look at ways you are silencing your spouse. Trust is broken the moment someone is silenced. They might be subtle breakings, but eventually you will have the death of a thousand papercuts to deal with. Make room for your spouse to be, speak, do, think, perceive, dream, and reminisce how they want to.
Love can never be coerced or it would cease to be what it fundamentally is. If you want love to be the end result of your relationship, you have to sow what will reap love. You have to live your life in such a way that your spouse will choose to love you. Anything else will land you exactly where God said was not good: alone.