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“I don’t care about the condition of your marriage. I care about the condition of your heart.” Those words surprisingly exited my mouth one day while I was encouraging a friend through a tough season of marriage.

The words rolled out purely from experience. When Mark or I are sideways with each other it’s usually because one or both of us has allowed our heart to be clouded with pride, anger, selfishness, bitterness or some other ugly attitude.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, one of the best gifts we can give our loved one is to check the condition of our heart. Need some help? Spelling out the word HEART, think about these positive actions that will speak love to your spouse:

Honor: Are you honoring your spouse? Are you OK with how he or she is different from you, or are you critical of those differences? Do you speak kindly to him or her? Do you speak respectfully about your spouse when you talk with others? Do you honor him or her even when you disagree?

Engage: Are you engaged in your marriage? Tuned into your spouse’s likes and dislikes? Aware of your spouse's fears, hopes and dreams? Do you still date and take time for each other? When your spouse talks to you, do you close your computer or put away your phone and give him or her your full attention?

Accept: Are you accepting of your spouse or are you always trying to change him or her? Can you accept your spouse's perspective or opinion, even if it’s different from yours? Can you allow him or her to make decisions in different ways than you do?

Review: Review your expectations. Are they realistic, or do you have unrealistic expectations of your spouse or the challenges a real marriage faces? Review your influences. Are they positive influences for you and your marriage? Should you be more careful about what you watch on television, what you read or who you spend time with?

Train: Are you learning about marriage? Are you growing your communication skills? Learning to listen better? Managing your anger? Do you have emotional intelligence? Have you been willing to attend a marriage conference, or counseling if necessary?

Marriage is the union of two imperfect people. It’s our choice whether those imperfections divide us or mature us. Today, I encourage you to keep your heart turned in the right direction.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hearts at Home is a nonprofit organization designed to encourage, educate and equip moms at all stages. Hearts at Home, 1509 N. Clinton Blvd., Bloomington, IL61701-1813; (309) 828-MOMS;www.hearts-at-home.org.

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