What Should I Do When I’m In Conflict With My Husband Over His Christian Walk? Marina Slayton Answers

Parent’s Question:
Our kids comment frequently that my husband and I argue too much, at least in front of them.  When I married, I knew my husband was not a spiritually mature person but I was head over heals in love.  This disparity of Christian perspective continues even after more than a decade of marriage.  My husband would rather be at the tennis courts than in church on Sundays.  What can I do to prevent spousal bickering and what can I do to encourage my husband to be more spiritually interested? 
Mom Says: 
Anger is a normal human emotion. But the Bible is clear in Ephesians 4:26 that while we can and will get angry, we must control our emotions. Anger easily becomes sin…and that is a step we cannot take. From there it is a quick path downward to unforgiveness, blame, rejection and an increasing division between husband and wife.
Look, lots of situations can bring out anger at one’s spouse.  Gregory and I just happily sold our large family home of 6 years in picturesque New England and we were frankly not at our best by the end of the move.  Long days and nights, tedious organization and some significant time pressure gave rise a lot of bickering. By the end of the backbreaking move we had to repent and seek forgiveness. Trust me, it wasn’t pretty, but that is reality.
It takes two to tango. Neither Gregory nor I were innocent during the tough moving process.  I am just trying to be honest here.  Living with someone else (even with someone you love so much you would die for them) is difficult — especially these days in a culture that is so ME driven.  And if one (or both) partners come from a broken family backgrounds (as we both do) the building of a healthy marriage becomes that much more difficult.  But marriage is a mystical union representing God’s union with His bride the church. So we can be confident that God is for you and your spouse and your family (and your marriage) no matter what kind of challenges you face.
Also, you  need to ask yourself if you are angry at your husband’s individual action(s) or if you are in a general state of anger against your husband. Perhaps it is because you regret that he isn’t a stronger Christian. Or that he hasn’t been more successful on the professional front. Or that he doesn’t provide enough leadership for your children.
Dear Sister: please put those comparisons and regrets away. They won’t help him and they certainly don’t help you. You married another human being. That means he is by definition very, very far from being perfect. But the truth is, so are we as wives.
Regret poisons way too many marriages.  I would suggest going for counseling and focusing on how you can go forward together, both emotionally and spiritually.  Don’t let your anger continue to fester.  You cannot hide the  truth from each other … or from your kids. They see it every day.  So for their sake as well as your own and your husband, you need to start a journey of forgiveness and prayer in order to see healing in your marriage.  We usually want the other person to take the first step, but God wants us to be the first to apologize. As Jesus taught us all “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”
Remember, it is impossible to be spiritually mature if one is emotionally immature.  Giving into anger is a clear sign of spiritual and emotional immaturity. But taking the first steps — however hesitant — towards forgiveness is a tangible and vital sign of spiritual growth.  I encourage you to take those first steps today.
Thanks for an honest and courageous question.
Marina
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