Dear Mark and Jill,
I don’t like to be late to anything, and especially not to church. When I realize we’ll be late, my energy is zapped, I get frustrated and shut down. My spouse, on the other hand, is less concerned with being on time.
This has been a recurring issue for many years. I have tried to just suck it up and roll with being late, but I can’t seem to help myself from shutting down. I think part of it is the enemy knows he can get our focus off of worship and divert our attention, and it works. I have really gotten to the point with most things to just let it go and leave when my spouse is ready to go. But for some reason, I have a harder time doing that with church. Do you have any suggestions for the best way for us to work through this amicably?
You can’t change your spouse. You can only change yourself.
You can certainly tell your spouse how important it is for you to be at church on time so you don’t miss worship and it’s easier to find a seat. Should you decide to share that, NEVER do it on Sunday morning. Do it as a request during a time of non-conflict. Ask your spouse how you two could work together to make that happen.
The other option is for you to use this as an opportunity to learn to push your thoughts in a Spirit-led direction in order to experience emotional regulation. We get to choose our emotions by choosing our thinking. We get to choose the direction our thoughts take—this is why God’s word calls us to renew our mind (Romans 12:2) and to take our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5).
This is the order things happen in: Our thoughts determine our feelings which determine our beliefs, our actions, and ultimately the results that we get. It all starts with our thoughts.
So if you’re thinking, “We’re going to be late again. I hate this!” you will be anxious and upset, frustrated and shut down (which is likely a learned emotional response from your childhood. You can learn new healthier emotional responses in your adulthood. A coaching session can get you headed in the right direction.)
If you choose to think instead, “Lord, loving my spouse well is more important than being on time,” you’ll likely experience calm and patience. You’ll stay present and loving in your actions.
If you’re thinking, “Being late is rude and she should love me better by being on time,” you can change that to, “I can use these moments to learn to live out 1 Corinthians 13: Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not insist upon it’s own way.”
We all have places we need to grow. We can’t force that growth on our spouse but we can make kind, gentle requests in times of non-conflict. We can also use these opportunities for our own emotional and spiritual growth.
We hope that’s helpful!
❤️ Mark and Jill
Looking for more marriage resources? Start with No More Perfect Marriages!
Want regular encouragement?
Subscribe to get Jill's latest content by email.