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The following insights are some of the hardest but most valuable interpersonal lessons I’ve learned over time…

It’s not my job to “grow up” my husband. That’s God’s job.

Realizing that my role in life and in my relationships, first and foremost, is to allow God to grow ME up has freed me from over-focusing on others. It resets my attention and energy on only that which I can control…my own actions and reactions. And it is this simple reframe that provides the breathing room in my marriage for my husband and I to each personally mature in Christ — an individual effort that naturally draws us closer as a couple.

What good is it to nag, criticize, condemn, judge, demand, or use comparisons in my marriage? Will these techniques bring me any closer to my dream marriage? Shaming my husband into change will never get what I want, and neither will stating my opinions louder or more frantically.

The more I anxiously pursue my husband or attempt to mold him to fit my vision, the more he will distance himself from me.

It’s human nature to push back when we are pushed! By the grace of God, I’m learning how to warmly invite my husband to interpersonal growth instead of driving him away with relentless pursuit. I’ve had to become infinitely more Christ-like in this area, modeling His approach to His children instead of following my natural, brash instincts. After all, Christ stands at the door and knocks, He doesn’t break the door down or yell through it (Revelation 3:20).

And although this approach is certainly more gentle, it holds no less firmly to a vision of marriage that seeks to mutually encourage, to embody respect, and to promote healthy boundaries according to Ephesians 5.

For today:

rejoice in God’s institution of marriage — it can be an amazing classroom

celebrate that He’s not through with us yet

Kelli Willard is a fellow therapist with me at Building Intimate Marriages.

Kelli enjoys journeying alongside individuals and couples seeking a more balanced lifestyle and deeper intimacy. She is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT) in the state of Georgia (GA LMFT #001359). Kelli holds a B.A. in Psychology from Agnes Scott College and a M.A. in Marriage & Family Therapy with a specialization in Christian Sex Therapy from Richmont Graduate University.

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