On a video screen at my wedding reception, God gave me a gift I'll never forget. I
saw footage of my wife, Christi, at 3 years old. With her mom by her side, this
innocent little girl sat in the bathtub splashing water and singing as if she
didn't have a care in the world:
Oh, the Lord is good
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need:
The sun and the rain and the apple seed.
Oh, the Lord is good to me.
Two weeks later, on the last day of our honeymoon, we found
ourselves in the middle of the biggest argument we have had to date. As I sat
across from her at dinner defending my perspective, Christi's eyes welled with
tears. Without warning, my mind replayed that precious footage of my wife
singing in the bathtub, and my defenses melted. My argument
no longer mattered.
How had I allowed myself to become hardened and insensitive to
the person I loved most? Rather than being "quick
to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" (James 1:19), I
was quick to defend myself, quick to cast blame and slow to be gentle.
So how do couples develop an attitude of gentleness toward
The famous preacher A.W. Tozer wrote that one of the five keys to a deeper spiritual life is to
never defend ourselves. When we do, we put up emotional guards that make us
hard and self-centered. In turn, we cast blame in an attempt to protect
In my case, my defenses dropped when I
remembered the innocence and purity of 3-year-old Christi. The image of her as
a child gave me a new perspective. Because she had given me her heart, she was
emotionally vulnerable — just as I was
vulnerable to her. Once we understood this reality, Christi and I began learning how to treat each other with gentleness. We
found that gentleness did not depend on who was right, but on lowering our
defenses and handling each other with care.
Talk About It
- How have we shown gentleness to one another?
- In what areas of our marriage do we need to practice gentleness toward each other?
- When we’re tempted to defend ourselves, how can we protect one another instead?
This article first appeared in the August/September 2011 issue of
Thriving Family magazine. Copyright © 2011 by Joshua Straub. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
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