“Live in harmony with one another.” Romans 12:16
It’s no secret when there’s a lack of harmony in your marriage. You know it. Your spouse knows it. And probably the people around you know as well.
You didn’t get married and come together as one in order to live in a disconnected relationship. Your heart’s desire is to join with your spouse and be in a connected, harmonious, and loving relationship.
In his letter to the church in Rome, the apostle Paul admonished them to, “Live in harmony with one another.” But how do we live this out in the context of marriage? What are some things that we can do to lay the foundation for harmony with our spouse?
Here are four things every couple can work on that will provide important steps to bring harmony into your marriage:
1. Do a heart check
Before looking at your spouse, it’s important to look at one’s self. Jesus actually pointed this out when he said that before you can help somebody else with their problem, you need to deal with your own! (See Matthew 7:3-5).
Often a little self-reflection can reveal that we are contributing and perhaps even instigating the very disharmony we despise. Ask yourself, “Is there any way that I am being self-centered in this? Have I allowed ego, pride, or offense to take root in my heart? Am I holding onto a spirit of unforgiveness or bitterness that needs to be dealt with first?” Once we’ve dealt with these questions we can begin to look at other issues in our marriage.
2. Strive for understanding
Originally, Paul’s letter to the church in Rome was written in Greek. The Greek word for harmony in this verse means: “thinking the same or being of one mind.”
Sometimes we don’t understand our spouse’s perspective, or motives. Disharmony can happen when we disregard their perspective or assume wrong motives.
Here’s a phrase that has been helpful in our marriage: “Help me understand….” Instead of jumping to conclusions we simply start with this three-word phrase of inquiry.
- “Help me understand what you meant when you said….”
- “Help me understand why you chose to….”
These three words assume a position of humility. They actually empower our spouse bring bring understanding of themselves to us.
3. Find areas of agreement
Once we start seeing disharmony in our marriage, we start seeing it everywhere with our spouse. Pretty soon it seems that all we are seeing in our marriage is trouble.
In a different letter, the apostle Paul used the same Greek word for “harmony” to urge Christians to “agree with one another” (2 Corinthians 13:11). Finding areas of agreement is critical in bringing harmony to your relationship.
It will take some discipline to change what you notice in your marriage. We recommend that you sit down together and write out as many areas as possible where the two of you agree. Put it all down—from the significant to the trivial.
Next, look each other in the eye and verbally commit to look for areas of agreement instead of disharmony. Your mutual decision will redirect the course of your thinking and provide hope as you move ahead.
4. Pray together (out loud)
Prayer is one of the most intimate experiences the two of you can share. Your shared time of prayer gradually strips away the barriers that have kept the two of you apart. When your eyes are on Jesus’ grace given to you there is no other option but to give His grace to your spouse.
What else can you think of to bring harmony into your relationship? Start putting these four ideas into practice and God will draw you to each other as you build your marriage!