Mark: When Jill and I wrote No More Perfect Marriages we identified what we call the Seven Slow Fades where our hearts slowly and unknowingly pull away from each other. We also identified the Eight God-Tools that stop the fades in their tracks.

Jill: The past two weeks we’ve had the privilege of hosting two couples for a 2 or 3 day marriage coaching retreat. As we sorted through the struggles and snags each couple deals with day to day in their marriage, the God-Tools proved to be essential elements for exacting change.

Mark: We pick up our God-Tools in an effort to respond to the everyday challenges of relationships God’s way. Rather than reacting the way we feel, God-Tools help us to respond the way God asks us to respond. For the next few weeks, we’re going to look at one God-Tool a week. Of course we can’t possibly cover the God-Tools to the degree we do in the book, but hopefully we’ll get your wheels turning as you think about how you need to personally use each tool in your marriage.

Jill: Today’s God-Tool is COURAGE. This tool is needed in so many different ways.  If your spouse is more assertive and you are more passive, courage will help you find your voice, express your thoughts, opinions, and feelings.

Mark: That’s been me. Because I was raised in a home where my voice, my thoughts, and my opinions were dismissed, I stopped speaking up in my early years. I carried that into my marriage. While Jill longed for me to share my thoughts, I had so much trouble finding my voice. Courage has been the key to turning that around.

Jill: If you’re a husband or wife who resists emotional vulnerability in marriage, courage will be your tool of choice to deepen your emotional connection in marriage. When you’ve shut down feelings for dozens of years, it’s not easy to turn those back on. Yet, it’s necessary to have a marriage that has emotional depth to it. This is me…I’m using my God-Tool of courage to share more of my insides with my husband.

Mark: Courage is needed in so many ways in marriage. We need courage to make the right choices. Courage to set boundaries. Courage to believe the best in our mate. Courage to take the risk to trust again after hurt. Courage to stop controlling. It even requires courage to listen to our spouse without defensiveness…to really hear and reflect back what our partner is communicating–even if we don’t agree. Courage allows us to listen well before we attempt to share our thoughts.

Jill: Where is fear affecting your marriage? That’s where you need to be pulling out the God-Tool of courage.

Mark: Courage grows from God’s strength inside of you. Don’t try to go it alone. Ask God to show you where and how to use courage as it relates to what you bring to the marriage table.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9 (ESV)

What about you? Where do you need to use your God-Tool of courage in your marriage today?

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