ThinkstockPhotos-494632298Mark: I was asking a family we were visiting with the other day about their holiday traditions of putting up a tree and decorating it.  The husband said with resignation, “My wife wants things done a certain way. The kids and I have just decided to stay out of her way.”

Jill: One of the kids said, “If we help, she usually just re-does what we do so we don’t help anymore.”  The whole conversation made me sad and caused me to ask myself,  “Where do I have to have things my way, and in doing so, I leave my family out?”

Mark: For many years Jill insisted on white lights for our Christmas tree. It was a non-negotiable, even though I communicated that I preferred colored lights on the tree.

Jill: Several years ago, God was really working on my heart and bringing to the surface places where selfishness (I want it my way) and pride (My way is the right way) was present in my life. It just so happened to be during the holiday season and I knew, without a doubt, it was time to give up on the white lights.  I went and bought colored lights to the delight of my husband and my kids who were still at home.

Mark: Marriage is about compromise. It’s a blend between both of our likes.  When one of us has likes that overshadow the other’s preferences, something is out of balance and needs to be adjusted.

Jill: Here are some principles for getting things back in balance:

Ask God to show you the places where selfishness reigns in your heart.  Repent (apologize to God) and determine to let go of having to have things your way.

Pay attention to the likes and dislikes of your spouse. Determine to allow his or her preferences to supersede yours in some things you’ve been adamant about in the past.

If you are characterized by expecting things to be perfect and “done your way,” an apology is the first place to start. Apologize to your spouse and follow up with your kids, if they’re old enough.

Jill: Several years ago, I decided that during the holiday season when I heard the song “Let It Snow,” I would sing in my head, “Let It Go!” as a practical reminder to let go of having to have things my way.

Doing so has made a huge difference in my marriage and in the general atmosphere of our home.

What about you? Is there any place in your life where your spouse or family has learned to just “stay out of your way?” Where do you need to “let it go” for the sake of your marriage and your family? 

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