Therefore, as the elect of God, . . . put on tender mercies.
Hurts, irritations, unmet needs—life is full of them. How ironic it is that marriage often magnifies these things. For example, we might quickly forget a passing critical comment from a coworker, but we remember the same comment for days—or longer—if it comes from our spouse. And if a casual friend shows a lack of interest in our conversation, we probably think nothing of it. But if our spouse fails to give us undivided attention, look out!
We often ask questions that make our spouse's hurts worse, such as, "Why is my spouse feeling this way?" "Is my spouse overreacting?" or "Would I feel the same in an identical situation?" when we should be asking, "How could I be more compassionate toward my spouse when he or she is upset, sad, or anxious?"
For many years during our marriage, I (David) applied a simple-but-flawed approach to understanding Teresa's reactions to certain situations. My approach was to ask this "rational" question: "If the same thing that happened to Teresa happened to me, would I react the way she is reacting?" The way I saw it, if I would not have been disappointed, then she should not, and if I would not have been hurt, then she shouldn't be hurt. Because of this, I was not tender in my responses to Teresa's hurts, so there was little or no caring connection between us. In fact, my responses only made matters worse.
Over time, the Holy Spirit pierced my heart in the midst of my questions with this painful and convicting truth: "David this is not about you, it's about Teresa and her pain. Will you let Me care for her through you?"
What can you do today to show true, selfless compassion
to your spouse?
Father, extend Your compassion to my spouse—through me!