Back to School—’Reading’ the Best Marriage Manual

I’m starting a new series called, “Back to School—7 Lessons on Learning to Love Well When the Winds of Marriage Grow Colder.” And what would school be without a good dose of “Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic”?

Read Bible

So my first lesson involves “reading” . . . Reading the Bible, that is.

There are so many great marriage books out there, but in my opinion, the best marriage manual ever is the Bible!

And I’m not talking about looking solely to passages about “marriage” or even “love” for nuggets of wisdom, though that’s certainly a good starting point. I’m talking about diving deep into God’s word on a regular, ideally daily, basis.

I often say that the single greatest tool for bringing healing to a person’s heart and marriage is the Bible. I’ve experienced this professionally and, most importantly, personally!

Back to SchoolBut here are two cautions . . . 

1. You must use your Bible daily or at least regularly if you want to see God do a work in your heart and marriage.

2. You must not look to the Bible to puff you up with knowledge that goes unapplied to your own heart.

#bediligent #behumble

Although a quick reading of a verse or even a quick devotional here and there can be inspiring and helpful. In my view, it isn’t enough to break through the impasses I might face when my heart grows cold in marriage.

I say this not from a holier-than-thou perspective, but from one that has lived half-heartedly, as well as pharisaically when it comes to God’s word. In time and with God’s conviction I came to realize . . .

The distinction  between a quick or inconsistent reading of a verse or two of Scripture versus taking time to understand and apply God’s word daily is the difference between washing your hands and washing your body. We can get so dirty from the challenges and temptations we face in marriage and life. Wouldn’t it seem ridiculous to rely only on “washing our hands” daily and not washing our entire bodies (meaning hearts)?

I also want to add that, though communication techniques are helpful to a degree, they are like putting a bandaid on a gaping wound when our hearts grow cold in marriage. We need both God’s Word poured in daily and deeply, as well as healthy communication to truly thaw out our frozen hearts in marriage.

Allow me to illustrate how this has worked for me . . .

Let’s say that my husband and I have just gotten into a fight that turned my heart instantly colder toward him. My pride has been wounded and my fear is soaring through the roof. All I want to do is get as far away from him as I can. #beentheredonethat

Now, I could practice some helpful communication tool, like reflective listening, with him. But if I don’t even want to get near him, listening might be a bit too hard to do! 😉

Besides, I will most likely be in self-protective mode, with a string of complaints about him running through my head—drowning out any words he might want to say to me. 

But if I look to God’s wordnot only in the heat of the moment, but have applied it daily and minute-by-minute—then I come to understand my tendency to be prideful or fearful or impatient, yada, yada, yada! (I have lots of “yadas” in my life!) #cantescapemysin

This doesn’t happen overnight. And it doesn’t happen with half-hearted or sporadic efforts to read and/or study God’s word. So are you ready to “up your game”?

Here’s a perfect opportunity for you!

If you’re looking for something that will give you the opportunity to learn to glean the truths of Scripture and apply them daily . . .

And/Or

You’re looking for something that will only take you five or so minutes to read, but also gives you the chance to understand the truths you’re reading, as well as providing a “takeaway” to apply in your day, then . . .

Consider my free 8-week WORTHY Bible study of Galatians, starting Sunday evening, Aug. 13th.

This is a closed Facebook group, requiring no commitment to engage with me or any others—though that can enhance the experience. Simply request to be my Facebook friend at Beth Oster Steffaniak and let me know you want to be added to the group. Also, you can leave at any point with no cost or obligation to you!

Next week I’ll be continuing my “Back to School” series by unpacking another lesson I’ve learned, ‘Writing’ Prayers—the Best Way to Gain Perspective (in marriage) along with providing a printable prayer guide to get you going. I hope you’ll join me!

 

What is one very important practice that has brought healing to your marriage?

 

What barriers hinder you from making a daily commitment to study/know God’s word? 

 

Be sure to scroll down below to comment! 


Here are some lovely linkups I join – Christian Blogger CommunityMondays @ Soul SurvivalTestimony TuesdayJennifer Dukes LeeWriter WednesdayCoffee and ConversationCoffee for Your HeartFaith and FriendsSitting Among FriendsMoments of HopeLiterary Musing MondaysFresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday

Let’s Get this ‘From Messes to Messages’ Linkup Started!
Add any links that are uplifting, helpful and encouraging to our spiritual lives, marriages and families! Be sure to add a link on your blog back to “From Messes to Messages” or Messy Marriage as well. For linkup guidelines/button, click here.

Messy Marriage

  • Beth, so good to have you back! I missed you. Journaling my emotions and asking God for His perspective help me cool down and get a grip!

    • Thanks for your kind words, Debbie! It’s good to be back. I’ve missed you and so many other sweet friends I’ve made through the blogosphere.

      Yes, journaling to God really helps me too and is my “go-to” when I’m angry, hurt or confused. It might sound like I’m a broken record over here on that subject, but it’s so very true and important! 😉

  • Yay! Funny how “you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone!” So happy to see your invite in my in-box 🙂
    Can’t WAIT for your Galatians study – sadly, your illustration could have been a page right out of my own playbook! Gotta get back in the Word…
    Have an awesome week – and keep leading us back to the Good New, friend <3 <3

    • Your enthusiastic welcome back is heart-warming, Pat! You make me feel so loved! And like I said to Debbie below, I’ve really missed you and so many other sweet bloggers during my blogging break. It’s great to get back in the swing of things!

      Yes, getting into God’s word, not just marginally, is absolutely essential to my SANITY, for one, but also to ensure my love for my hubby doesn’t grow cold again! Thanks for your kindness to me, my friend! You’re a sweetheart!

  • JosephPote

    Welcome back, Beth! I hope you had a nice break with family.
    Looking forward to following this study!

    • I did, Joe! It was so helpful to pull away and spend precious moments with my family. Thanks for stopping in to welcome me back. It’s smiling faces like yours that make blog hopping a joy!

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    So glad you’re back! You don’t know how much you’ve been missed! And am I right, you have a publisher or two interested in a marriage book?

    Looking forward to this new series, though my take on it may be rather different. I spend time in the Word daily, to both send Barb a personalized prayer every morning to help her face the challenges of the day (I ask what I should pray for), and a bit of Scripture at mid-day.

    It’s not only ‘for the day’; the prayers, and especially the Scripture, are selected to help her move on after my death. I want her to be happy, to feel secure in God’s love, and to not feel tempted to make her life a memorial to mine.

    It may sound morbid, but it doesn’t feel that way. I have a limited amount of time and strength to give this person I love so much the best push into the next phase of her life, and I don’t want to waste a second.

    https://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/08/your-dying-spouse-345-embracing-fear-fmf.html

    • Aww, you are so sweet to say, Andrew! I missed you too. I did occasionally check out your posts, though I didn’t always comment. I was trying to stay completely engaged in my face-to-face relationships for a time. And it was so needed! But I always love checking in on you and what’s buzzing in your brain. I’m glad to see that you are doing a bit better than you were a few days ago. You gave me a scare there!

      I do know of this precious habit you’ve formed for Barbara! What a gift you are giving her. Not many men would do this and I hope it encourages her every single time she reads the verses you share with her and knows you’re praying for her as well. I truly believe this will help her to “grieve” your loss “with hope.” Thank you for sharing this slice of your life with Barbara with all of us. It would be a worthy effort even when we are not facing death’s door.

  • Oh, WELCOME back!

    • Thanks, Michele! It’s so good to be back and see the smiles on your and all the other bloggers I call my friends faces once again.

  • Patricia A Krank

    One thing that has brought healing: Stopping to ask myself what’s going on inside me that is causing me to want to react negatively before I blurt something out. It is usually more about something wrong in me than it is about something he’s doing or saying.
    Hinders to daily time with God: Doing ANYTHING before I take the time to open up my Bible and pray. Once I start something else I end up feeling like I don’t have the time.
    Thank you for your wise words Beth. Great party!
    Patti

    • Yes, I ask myself those same kinds of questions too, Patti. Though, typically in the heat of the moment, I’m often just frantically asking God to calm my heart. It’s like a statement I heard one of the speakers at the She Speaks conference I went to in July say, “I love you! But I want to kill you sometimes!” I could really relate to that sentiment and God knows I’ve said that about my hubby to Him before! Thanks for adding your wise thoughts here too. I love your commitment to read God’s word before anything else. You rock, my friend!

  • Susan

    Welcome back! Keeping my mouth shut is always a good start in the marriage area! But always discussing, rationally, FEELINGS. We all have them.

    • Yes, that’s a great thought and action to keep in place. “Guard my lips, Oh Lord! Because what’s stirring in my heart surely can’t be spoken and build up my hubby at the same time!” Lol! And I totally agree about sharing feelings–something so necessary to a healthy relationship and yet not always easy to access or do. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Susan! Great to be back and see your smiling face again too!

  • Elizabeth

    Hi Beth! Thank you for sharing so important lesson on marriage.Looking forward to read more from you. Blessings to you! I am your neighbor at# Dance with Jesus linkup.

    • You’re welcome, Elizabeth. It’s nice to meet you and I really enjoyed visiting your blog and reading your inspiring post there. You are an amazing woman!

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  • bluecottonmemory

    Welcome Back! I’ve missed you! The most important thing I do is when I get mad or hurt, I ask God to show us both where we’ve missed it. I’ve also learned to look at MY response and why I responded. God has consistently show me that when I get angry or mad, 90% of it is my issue. 10 % is his contribution. However, when I do bring God into it and ask him to show my husband why I am hurt, he does. God is the best mediator!

    • I’ve missed you too, Maryleigh! I mean, I not only missed seeing you here, but missed seeing you as I was being driven through your neck of the woods. We will just have to keep on trying!

      Great way to pray in those heated moments. And I agree. God has a way of showing us more powerfully and clearly our sins and fault than we ever could achieve on our own. Thank goodness He does! I know I’d probably be divorced if it weren’t for God’s conviction and grace. Hugs to you, my friend!

  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Beth,
    Welcome back!! I’ve missed you out here in the blogosphere!! It was so good to meet you in person at She Speaks and I hope you’ve found rest and rejuvenation in taking some time off. Amen to needing to be deep in the Word so that when the cold winds of marriage blow, we are already buffered with His Word against the cold storms. I’d be lost without my Marriage Manual (aka my Bible!). Looking forward to the series!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    • Thank you, Bev! It truly was a treat to meet you and get to talk with you for just a bit at the conference. I do hope your foot heals up quickly and completely so that you can be off and running toward all the good goals God has before you in your life.

      And I figured you would be one who gets where I’m coming from with God’s word. God truly has secured and comforted me in so many storms of life and marriage. I can tell a huge deficit when I even miss one day!

  • Sarah Geringer

    Beth, I absolutely agree. The Bible has been 100% necessary in the complete transformation of my marriage. When I’m fuming after an argument, the 1 Corinthians 13 chapter brings me back to reality. I must practice forgiveness, patience, and commitment even when my feelings are hurt. I’m excited about joining your FB group too!

    • You are another one, Sarah, that I know gets where I’m coming from about the necessity of God’s word to our problems. 1 Corinthians is a great place to find God’s peace and perspective too. It’s never easy to let God’s word impact and transform us, but it’s so much easier than going it alone. I’m grateful for the carving God’s word has done on my cold and stony heart. Thanks for joining the conversation and thanks for being my roomie at the conference!

  • This post is accurate. For me it’s being so immersed in God’s word that even when I hurt he gives me the wisdom for the situation. It doesn’t hurt that my husband has the same practice though we don’t always do this together.
    2nd question – distractions in any form whether good or bad.

    • Yes, Nylse. And I love that word “immerse.” It makes me think of how our wounds are cleansed and healed when we immerse them in water and anti-bacterial cleansers. That’s exactly what God’s word does for my heart. I’m so glad to hear that your husband does the same thing. It really exponentially improves the healing of our marriages when we join together in pursuing God. And yes, distractions are a difficulty in this life, especially with social media pinging in at every turn. But we must be determined to keep God our master and not our social media feed! Lol! Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend!

  • pioneerpat1

    Welcome back, Very interesting topic. Looking forward to learning some stuff.

    Thanks for hosting and have a wonderful rest of the week.

    • Thanks, Patrick! I’m glad you think so. I’m looking forward to unpacking it too! I hope you’ll keep coming back around, my friend!

  • Loved the wisdom and insight here! I can relate to all this. All marriages come with the same manual, if we will just read it! Thank you, Beth for this series. I’m looking forward to next week!

    • Thank you, Leslie! That is high praise from you! And I know that we resonate on this very issue. Yes, all marriages have access to this same manual, but I just think most people miss out on the realization of how much power it contains to bring healing to their marriages. I know I did back in my messiest marriage days. I used it more for figuring out how my husband should operate and then felt disillusioned when God didn’t force my husband’s hand. Obviously, I should have been taking the Lord’s approach on my husband’s heart. Wooing our mates to love and obey God is best done with love, not criticism! I know you know that! But I sure didn’t back in the day! Thanks for your kindness to me, my friend!

      • Yes, Beth! I’m right there with being one of those that missed out in the early and mid years of my marriage on how much healing comes through the Word and through our own inner changes based on what happens when we read and obey what’s inside. I used to feel a lot of regret over those issues, but now I focus on God’s redemption story. I love that you focus on these things and I find what you say so helpful to keep me seeing things in the right focus! Blessings!

  • Beth, it’s so good to see you back in this space. Great truths you’ve shared here today, as always. I pray your project is going well. Blessings, sweet friend!

    • It’s good to be back, Donna. Thanks for stopping by and encouraging me, my friend!

  • Dear Beth

    Reading the Bible a lot has certainly brought healing here (so far only in my own attitude :/ though “knock-on effects” are starting to appear).

    If I seek out ¨relevant¨ passages (e.g., passages about “marriage” or “love”), or even if I read a passage /for/ its relevance, I can tend to make it all about me: I did this when I should have done that; I should be more forgiving; etc. Reading longer texts — especially from the Old Testament — helps me take a few steps back and see things from God´s point of view. I especially like the sense I get of a long-term relationship, between God and His people, with passion and frustration on both sides (and repeated misbehaviour on one side).

    The main barrier is that often when I most need this kind of thing — the calm and stability and perspective that regular contact brings — is when I least want to make contact. As if I am resentful at having to drag myself back to the straight and narrow, even though I know I am healthier and happier when I am on that path.

    David

    • I’d say that if the Bible has impacted your attitude for the better, then its just a matter of time and influence before it changes your behaviors too, David. Great insight added about how reading longer passages more consistently impacted and benefited you too. I feel that same way, though I certainly find inspiration when I focus on verses related to a troubling area in my life. And I’m so grateful that you’ve persevered in that effort. That says a lot about your personality and character, I believe. But I also see God working in your heart and life in amazing ways, my friend!

      I also see the barrier you’ve described as being your achilles heel. I’d say that sounds like at least part of that struggle is spiritual warfare. I’m going to be doing a series on how our marriages can be attacked spiritually in October. I know you struggle with the concept of Satan, but I definitely feel that he and his minions (and not the cute and cuddly kind on Despicable Me) are always around, making efforts to trip us up in our faith. I also think married couples are one of his prime targets since he doesn’t want us to have solid, Christ-honoring marriages. I hope you’ll check the series out when October rolls around.