You can still have a happy marriage when everything around you is chaotic. The secret is mercy.
God’s mercy. Without it, we would all have no hope and no future. But because we want to know God’s mercy, we need to show it to those around us, especially during this time of quarantines, social distancing, and uncertainty. And the most important people around you are your spouse and kids.
In the Bible, God’s mercy means His pity, compassion, and kindness toward people. His mercy shows up in the believer’s life at salvation, and then God continues to show mercy in His forgiveness. As a result, He expects us to show mercy to others.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Matthew 5:7
In this time of uneasiness, it will be easy to forget to be merciful to your spouse like God is merciful towards us. So, how can you show mercy to your spouse and have a happy marriage during this crazy time?
First, be willing to make sacrifices for the good of the family. It’s way too easy to think about yourself in times of crisis. As humans, we all tend to jump back and forth between selfishness and a servant mindset. It’s a normal reaction as your brain tries to keep you safe.
Unselfish thinking can feel uncomfortable, but Christ calls us to do it.
Brainstorm some sacrifices you could make so that your spouse can weather the current situation better? What can you do to make them more comfortable? Even though I am so sick of home-cooking (and I hate cooking), I’m going to make sure I have dinner ready each night because my husband is working every single day right now.
If you’re not sure what you can do, ask them. Even if your spouse can’t think of anything, it will mean a lot that you wanted to try.
Watch your attitude though! Please, don’t do this with the expectation that your spouse will recognize your incredible sacrifice and ask what they can do for you. It actually demonstrates selfishness when you say, “I’ll do this, but they better do it back! I deserve to be happy and comfy too!”
Don’t expect to be rewarded on earth for the things you do that are heaven-minded.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10
Tame Your Tongue
Do you have a sarcastic streak? Yea, me too.
The problem with sarcasm is that it sounds nasty, even though you don’t mean it that way. Sometimes, we can let sarcasm roll off of us, and sometimes, especially when we’re feeling stressed, the words can pierce right through that buffer.
So, this is a time where you need to closely monitor the things you say to your spouses and kids. Everyone is affected by this virus in one way or another, and even if your spouse doesn’t seem worried, they could be. Or, like my husband, they may just be tired.
Guard your tongue. Give careful thought to the things that come out of your mouth so that you will not inadvertently hurt your spouse or other members of your household.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
It’s okay if someone in your house is driving you crazy.
It doesn’t mean you don’t love them or can’t live with them. It just means that you are spending more time together, and things that don’t usually bother you are probably going to irk you while we’re all cooped up!
Self-control isn’t just for good times. It’s much more important when things are stressful. Having self-control and not knee-jerk reactions brings you closer to God and improves the relationships you have with the people you love the most.
Respond with careful thought instead of just reacting to every little thing that bothers you. God will reward you for it and help you have a happy marriage.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; James 1:19
Give the Benefit of the Doubt
In marriage or parenting, acting as judge and jury without all the facts can quickly damage your relationship. You should always give the benefit of the doubt until you see the problem has become a pattern.
To give someone the benefit of the doubt means that you keep a favorable opinion, or at least a neutral one, of someone until you have more information.
Giving people the benefit of the doubt is both Biblically and legally sound.
One witness is not enough to accuse a person of a crime or sin. A case must be proved by two or three witnesses. Deuteronomy 19:15 NCV
That verse may seem odd in a post about having a happy marriage and family, but here’s why it makes sense. Just because someone says or does one thing one time does not mean that your perception of it was valid. It took at least two witnesses, preferably three, in the Bible to convict someone.
Especially in these trying times, give your spouse and your family the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they really did forget to put their clothes away. Perhaps they actually didn’t mean something they said the way it came out.
Magnify Mercy for a Happy Marriage
You and your spouse are going to say and do things you shouldn’t during the next month. Your kids are going to get mad at you and mouth off. All the stress and extra time together pretty much guarantees that outbursts like those will happen at least once.
Give your spouse a second chance when they mess up. No one’s perfect, and those imperfections can loom larger during times of stress. You can’t control what your spouse does, only how you react to it.
In fact, give oodles of second chances. It’s the only way to come out of this quarantine with your marriage and family better than when you went in. Show your spouse and kids more mercy than you think could even be possible.
So, magnify mercy to cover your spouse’s magnified flaws. You have them too, you know. (Parents, this applies to your kiddos as well.)
Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:13
I want everyone to come out of quarantine better than when you went in. God has given you a rare opportunity to reset your life and work on the relationships that are the most important.
So, from now on, DO NOT:
- spend this precious time finding fault with your spouse.
- make assumptions about what they may be feeling or thinking.
- judge them for the way they react to what’s going on.
- condemn them by placing a life sentence on them for something that won’t make a difference in the big picture of life.
(For more information on how focusing on the big picture can help your marriage, read It Takes One to Tango: How I Rescued My Marriage with (Almost) No Help from My Spouse―and How You Can, Too by Winifred M. Reilly.)
For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. Romans 2:1b
If you are merciful, your family will show you mercy. If you don’t judge them, they will give you the same treatment. And if you freely forgive, they will be quick to forgive you for your shortcomings as well. Forgiveness is an important part of all happy marriages.
The best way to learn to be merciful is at the feet of Jesus. He can show you how to show mercy to everyone, no matter how you may feel at the moment.