Keeping your Relationship on Track (2)

2. Recognize that you don’t have Control over your spouse’s will but you do have a great deal of Influence

The second precondition to keep your marriage from derailing is recognizing the influence you have with your spouse. Maybe you don’t feel influential, but you are. There’s a well-known physics axiom that states “For every action,there’s an equal and opposite reaction.” Apply this reality to your relationship.

For every action in marriage,there’s a spousal reaction,sometimes equal,sometimes opposite. You can only control your actions,regardless of how your partner behaves. No matter how bad things get,you can exercise self-control. Self-Control is a desired quality,one that is not reinforced much in today’s culture.God promises self-control:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love,joy,peace,longsuffering,kindness,goodness,faithfulness,gentleness,self-control-Gal.5:22-23.

According to these verses,love is the fruit.All fruit grows from a seed. The seed is the word of God. You plant the seed(The Word) in your heart first. The result of knowing and believing God’s Word is love. Said another way,the result of planting the seed is growing a crop of fruit(love). God’s love, then, produces self-control.

When you work to develop self-control,you concentrate far less on what your partner is doing and more on your own actions and reactions.A change in one person creates a change in another. It’s like a dance. Couples create dances together.One Spouse behaves one way,the other follows with a behavior. These actions repeat and follow a pattern. Overtime,couples lock into familiar dances.Some dances can be wonderful, romantic,dreamy,soothing,supportive,easy,flowing,creative,innovative, and fluid.Other dances can be jerky,tense,toe crushing,out of step,body slamming,and embarrassing.Obviously,the latter are the dances we don’t like and need to change.

How do you change the dance? By changing your step in the dance. You can’t force your partner to move differently.Some spouses will make a new move based on suggestion or helpful feedback. Others will not. But you can take a different step. When you do, the result will likely be tension, either you will fall back into the old step,or your spouse will accommodate the new.If you don’t give in,the dance has to change. It feels akward at first,tense,and terribly uncomfortable but eventually the steps begin to form a new pattern,a new dance.Here’s your hope:By changing your step in the dance,the dance will change as long as you don’t go back to the old way.

Notice,I didn’t say your actions/ reactions determine your partner’s actions,I said they influence.But when you firmly practice a new step,you have more influence than you realize.

But if one person in a couple decides to walk away from the things of God and steps into the world system,trouble begins. You can’t force someone to turn back to God. Sound familiar? You may have screamed,cried,and manipulated; being hurtful, angry,pitiful,depressed,anxious,perfect,tolerant,condemning,distant,or dependent,or dragged your spouse to counselling(add whatever i ‘ve missed here). Yet nothing has changed. Your spouse is still bent on divorcing seems you ‘ve tried every new step in the dance imaginable. If so,then your problem is probably a spiritual one. Your spouse has hardened his/her heart to the things of God. Nothing will move that spouse because he/ she is determined to pursue a new dance without you. Your spouse no longer wants you as a dance partner. He/She thinks there’s a more talented dancer out there. The truth is that the coveted new dance will hardly be new-your spouse will merely choose a new partner.

Your hope in this situation is that your spouse will be convicted of sin and will awaken from spiritual slumber to have a true encounter with the living God. Pray to that end and ensure you read Chapter 12.

You need self-control in an out-of-control world-James C.Collins