Mark: It happens every time we travel. I throw clothes in a suitcase and walk out the door. For Jill it’s not that easy. She has a list she wants to do before we leave: water the flowers, run the vacuum, fold the laundry, and sometimes pay a few bills. That difference used to drive me crazy. These days, however, I go into those trips with a better appreciation for the details Jill thinks about. It is nice to things in order. I make a decision to accept her desires to get these things done. Most often, I’m able to help her with the list so we can get out the door a little sooner.
Jill: It happens every time we go somewhere together. I’m out of the car and in the building before Mark has even exited the car. During the summer months, I make myself wait for him, but during the winter when it’s freezing cold outside, I wait inside where it’s warm! My default speed is fast and furious. I think with anticipation before any transition—even getting out of the car. Mark’s default speed is slow and steady. He thinks in the moment and is rarely in a hurry. That difference used to drive me nuts. These days, however, I make a daily decision of acceptance. This is who he is…this is who I am…neither is right or wrong…just different.
Mark: We don’t always do it well. Sometimes I forget that Jill’s going to have that list in her head and I start to get frustrated that we can’t just leave. Sometimes she gets tired of waiting on me. But we’re working to increase our awareness of these differences and choosing more often to use our God-tool of ACCEPTANCE.
Jill: In our book No More Perfect Marriages, we talk about the seven slow fades and the eight God-tools that stop those fades from pulling us apart. The slow fade of disagreement is stopped by the God-tool of acceptance. Of course, acceptance isn’t the God-tool we need to use when sin is happening. Acceptance is what we need to use when we’re dealing with differing approaches to life that tend to frustrate or irritate.
Mark: We’re constantly bumping into our differences. When our differences clash we tend to do one of two things: we reject or accept. When we reject, we usually work hard to change our spouse into who we want him or her to be. I spent years trying to change Jill. My disapproval of her fueled my discontentment, engaged the slow fade of not accepting, and pulled our hearts farther from each other.
Jill: The Bible tells us to “Take our thoughts captive…” and this is exactly what we have to do in order to use our God-tool of acceptance. We have to be willing to do a ruthless self-evaluation and be willing to call out criticism, judgment, rejection, and control. We have to be willing to call a spade a spade. No rationalizing. No explaining it away. We have to take off the old relationship-damaging attitude and put on the new relationship-building decisions of acceptance.
Mark: It’s a daily decision. Sometimes it’s an hourly decision. But when we use our God-tool of acceptance, it makes our marriage an emotionally safe place to be. Not only that, but it makes us a much better person to live with. One who cares, is kind, and more accepting to others in general.
What about you? Where do you need to make a daily decision of acceptance?
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