Buying a house, moving, a new job, bringing home a new baby, or going back to school are just some of the life changes that can cause change or tension in a marriage. During these times, we can often be easily offended by something our spouse says or does.
When we find ourselves in this place, we can either allow our spouse to upset us or we can choose to not get offended. It’s not always our instinct to do the latter, but it’s a muscle we can work out and strengthen over time.
Here are a few steps we can take to be less offended in our marriages:
Understand man-speak versus woman-speak: I recently spoke at a moms group and one of the women mentioned how she often doesn’t like the direct way her husband makes requests. He’ll say something like, “Hey, bring me that magazine. Thanks.” She would prefer him to say, “Honey, would you please bring me that magazine? Thank you so much!”
While the general request is the same, those two statements come across differently to her. It was the same for most women at our table that morning. After being married for 15 years, I’ve realized that my husband just speaks more directly than I do. He doesn’t use flowery language or hint with his words. He just asks. I’ve learned (and am still learning) not to take it personally; I just recognize that’s the way he communicates.
Believe your spouse loves you and has your best interest in mind: When we find ourselves becoming offended, let’s take a pause. Think about the ways your spouse shows that he/she loves you and cares about your relationship. One bad day or stressful moment doesn’t take that away.
Give grace: When we think of how much we need and want grace, it’s much easier to give it to our spouse. We all have bad days. We all crack under pressure sometimes. How do we want our spouse to treat us in those moments? Let’s extend the same love and grace we desire.
Repeat “I will be not easily offended:” Maybe it’s corny, but it works! We recently moved and it was hectic on moving day. As my husband gave directions and requests to our moving team and me, I repeated those words in my head throughout the day. It allowed the direct statements to roll off my back and kept me moving instead of getting stuck on his request or how I took his tone during a stressful day.
Remember 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Paul tells us that love isn’t easily angered and it doesn’t keep score. Love learns to let offenses go.
In the becoming one that happens in marriage, sometimes what we say or do can rub each other the wrong way and one or both of us can naturally be offended. But with intention and practice, we can learn to choose love and grace instead.
(*Just a disclaimer: In this post, I’m talking about being offended over day-to-day stresses and inconveniences that happen in marriage. I am not saying we should excuse, overlook or not be hurt by abuse of any kind. If you find yourself in an abusive marriage, please reach out for professional help.)