Mark: I can remember the day like it was yesterday. I had determined I was leaving. I had communicated to Jill that I had closed off my heart to her months ago. I was looking forward to a soul mirage, determined to ride off into a new relationship and live happily ever after.
Jill: I remember the day well too. I had asked Mark for the hundredth time to leave the other relationship and recommit to his marriage and his family. His answer once again was no. This time he added, “I closed off my heart to you long ago. I don’t think I could even open it again.”
Mark: I was looking at love as a feeling, not a commitment. I assumed because I didn’t “love” her anymore, our relationship was over. This lack of love closed off my heart. I couldn’t imagine ever opening it up again.
Jill: But God.
Mark: But God is in the business of changing hearts. I’m so grateful I allowed His truth, His love, and His redemption to creep back into my heart. As I surrendered to Christ, my heart began to open up to Jill once again.
Jill: Mark and I were reminded of this when we listened to Greg Smalley’s message on Focus on the Family yesterday. When we travel, we open up the Focus on the Family app on one of our phones and listen to the last two weeks of radio programs. Greg’s message talked about having a closed heart and an open heart in marriage. His message was right on. It took us back to that crisis point in our marriage.
Mark: Jill is often asked how she was able to forgive just a big infraction of trust. I can tell you that one reason was that she never closed her heart to me. She kept believing in us. She had compassion for the lost place I was in. In fact, she saw it more clearly than I did at that time.
Jill: As Greg talked about in his message, our heart opens and closes to our spouse on a regular basis. When we disagree, the heart can close. When we forgive, it opens. When we feel disconnected, our heart closes, when we feel connected our heart opens.
Mark: Sometimes we have to work to keep our heart open to our spouse. When Jill ticks me off, I have to remind myself of Jill’s good traits.
Jill: And I have to do the same when Mark frustrates me. It’s hard work to think positively about someone when you’re angry with them.
Mark: When my heart was so closed off to Jill and I pursued another relationship, Jill was steady, and strong, and safe. She became even safer when she owned her own stuff at a time it certainly would have been easier to throw stones my way. She was safe when she spoke words of life to me when it might have been easier to throw harsh, angry words my way. The safer she was, it primed my heart to open up to her again.
Jill: Of course, there were plenty of times harsh, angry words were spoken. But the more God gave me compassion for Mark’s confusion and how he had lost his way, kinder words became the norm. Those not only kept my heart open to Mark, but eventually helped him open up his heart to me.
Mark: No matter if your heart has been closed to your spouse for years, months, days, or just a few hours, here are three steps to take to open up your heart to your spouse:
- Confess your part. Are you critical? Judgmental? Angry? Quick to cast blame? Unwilling to compromise? Prideful and always thinking your way is right?
- Push your thoughts. Instead of ruminating on your partner’s shortcomings, think about his/her strengths.
- Surrender. Raise the white flag of surrender and stop pursuing “what you want to do” by replacing it with “what God wants you to do.”
So what about you? Is your heart open or closed? What do you need to do to open your heart back up?
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