When fixing up a house, there are many things that may need to be replaced or upgraded. The appliances may be worn out, the kitchen cabinets may be falling apart, or the garage door may be broken down. Also, your love could be filled with things that are worn out, falling apart, or broken down. Discover some of those “things” that need replacing in your marriage.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, endureth all things.

I Corinthians 13:4-7

4 Things You Need to Replace in Your Love Life

Identifying What to Replace in Your Fixer Upper

1. Replace Criticism with Appreciation.

  • There are two types of criticism.
    • Constructive criticism- This is given in a friendly and helpful way. It is usually asked for and builds the other person up.
      • It is valuable because it promotes communication as well as personal growth. It gives you a chance to become a better person. Also, this type of criticism is unlikely to cause hurt feelings.
      • The sandwich method of constructive criticism. This involves a compliment then a criticism followed by a compliment.
      • As an example you can use the Word of God to constructively criticize yourself thereby making yourself a better follower of Christ. (See I Corinthians 11:31)
    • Negative criticism or critique- A completely negative criticism that if used in marriage can tear down the other person.
      • Many people criticize everything that their spouse does in a negative way. However, this does not meet the criteria of love in I Corinthians 13.
      • Consider one of my favorite cartoon movies Ratatouille. In it a mouse named Remy who is an aspiring cook meets Linguine a restaurant trash boy. Together, they start cooking and must impress the famous food critic, Anton Ego, who is impossible to please!
      • You can become like a “food critic” in your marriage where your spouse can seemly do nothing right. Criticism is blinding to anything good, it filters out anything good.
  • Negative criticism can become dangerous to your marriage.
    • It can ruin the love that you have for your spouse, causing you to fall out of love. If that is all you think about, it will recondition your mind and heart.
    • Also, it can ruin the love that your spouse has for you, causing them to fall out of love with you. If harsh criticism is all they hear from you, it will make it hard for them to stay in love with you.
    • Additionally, it can ruin your memories of the past and the ones you could make in the future. All of sudden, your past becomes negative and the bad starts to overrun the good in your marriage. If have also seen this happen in Church, where everything turns negative because of a few negative criticism.
  • Replace your negative criticism with appreciation.
    • Compare your love with I Corinthians 13 where we see words such as suffering long, is kind, not easily provoked, beareth all things, and endureth all things.
    • Study to know your spouse. Learn about their worries, hopes, goals, and history. Enter into their world of facts and feelings.
    • By learning to have an appreciation for your spouse, you are better able to cut out the criticism.

For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

I Corinthians 11:31

2. Replace contempt with admiration.

  • Contempt is the feeling that a person is beneath consideration, worthy of scorn, or worthless.
    • Consider the synonyms for contempt from Miriam-Websters online Thesaurus; despisement, despitefulness, disdain, scorn.
    • Contempt is when you attack the person and character of your spouse.
    • When you talk down or belittle your spouse, when you call your spouse names, or mock them.
    • The following are some examples of contempt.
      • “You are a lousing excuse for wife.”
      • “You are a lazy good for nothing husband.”
      • When you say something to intentionally hurt your spouse emotionally.
        • Comments about weight when you know your spouse is sensitive about it.
        • Comments about past mistakes your spouse has tried to correct.
  • Replace contempt with admiration.
    • Compare your language with the language of love in I Corinthians 13; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, thinking no evil.
    • Practice nurturing fondness and admiration with the following:
      • Talk about your memories together that were enjoyable.
      • Meditate on incidents that illustrate the things that you like about your spouse.
      • Identify things that you like about your spouse and think about those things. For example, my wife has the most beautiful smile in world!
      • Retrain your brain to think good about your spouse.
      • Doesn’t God go out of His way to see good in you?
    • Rediscover respect and admiration for your spouse.
      • It is hard to show disdain for someone you respect.
      • It is hard to say hurtful things to someone you admire.
      • Do not allow the Devil and your sinful flesh to ruin your marriage and make you only mediate on things you don’t like about your spouse!
        • Your husband may make mistakes, but there are enough qualities in him for you to respect and honor him as your husband.
        • Your wife may not look like a Barbie doll anymore, but God has given her plenty of things for you to be attracted to the woman that you married.
        • Sometimes having a good marriage takes some work on your part!

3. Replace Defensiveness with Vulnerability.

  • Your first thought when in conflict may be to defend yourself.
    • However, according to God’s Word, love seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, and beareth all things.
    • Disagreement escalate as you try to defend yourself, but the Bible teaches you to do something completely different.
    • You put up a shield to protect your feelings and a your thoughts about yourself. Especially if you are in a disagreement most of seem to have a tendency to keep our guard up.
  • Choose to speak softly to your spouse.
    • The words you choose to use will determine the tone a discussing with your spouse. Harsh words will produce has harsh marriage.
      • If you start out a conversation with criticism and accusations, it may not end well for anyone.
      • Consider that you never really win in an argument with your spouse, but you can tear down your love.
      • Try to use “I” instead of “you” sentences when having discussions with your spouse. Consider the following examples:
        • “You never listen to me. You spend too much time on your phone” replace with ” When you don’t listen compassionately, I feel lonely and hopeless.”
        • “You are a slob, start picking up after yourself. You expect me to do everything for you” replace with, “I feel overwhelmed with the housework when you leave things sitting around.”
        • “You never call or text me. You just don’t care about me anymore.” Replace with, I feel neglected and lonely when you don’t call or text during the day.”
  • Allow your spouse to influence you.
    • Show that you care about the feelings of your spouse by listening to them!
    • Being the spiritual leader of your home (see Ephesians 5:23) does not mean that you should not consider what your spouse thinks.
    • Consider how your actions and decision affect your spouse and her feelings!
      • Before your spend on your latest hobby, consider what your spouse needs and even their wants!
      • Develop an emotional intelligence that will help you consider the feelings of your spouse before you do things.
  • Make yourself vulnerable to your spouse.
    • What do you have to lose by opening up to the most important person on this earth to you?
    • Take down the shield, let down your guard, even it means you may be hurt in the process.
    • Criticism many times contains a measure of truth, that may be hurtful to consider.
    • Understand that sometimes your wife may not need you to fix something, but just listen and sympathize. Even if you have an answer it may need to said in a different setting!

4. Replace Stonewalling with Open Dialog.

  • According to Wikipedia stonewalling is a refusal to communicate or cooperate.
    • It is when we don’t want to deal with something.
    • When you become evasive, refuse to answer, or just walk away.
    • I think this may be more common in men than in women. It is easier to walk away, than try to deal with something that may make us uncomfortable.
    • When tensions rise and you become flooded with emotions, it may be hard to process your feelings.
    • It is OK to agree to talk about things later, but not to just stonewall your spouse because you don’t want to deal with something.
    • For example, this makes me think of the TV show Little House on the Prairie. Where the shop owner Nels Olsen was constant treated belligerently by his wife Harriet. I always just want to tell the poor guy to stand up for himself but he would just ignore her! If any couple ever needed marriage counseling!
  • Learn how to resolve your problems effectively
    • As a couple you just have to sit down and work through your problems together. “Let’s solve these problems we are having together.”
    • Look for your spouse’s “white flag” in a discussion. When they start agreeing with you, it may be time to cool down your rhetoric.
      • Your spouse may be attempting to let go of themselves.
      • Your spouse may be trying to live the love description of I Corinthians 13.
      • Your spouse may be using humor to diffuse a situation! For example when my daughter inadvertently video recorded our marriage argument on her Kindle Fire!
  • The key is in how you recover
    • In my opinion, the important thing is not avoid disagreement and arguments but to recover well from them.
    • After you cool off, you reflect on your foolishness and selfishness when you consider a passage like I Corinthians 13 and you make up with each other.
    • Make your “make up” fast… recover quickly.
    • Try not to go to bed angry with each other.

Be ye angry, and sin not: neither let the sun go down upon your wrath:

Ephesians 4:26


4 Things You Need to Replace in Your Love Life

  1. Replace criticism with appreciation.
  2. Replace contempt with admiration.
  3. Replace defensiveness with vulnerability.
  4. Replace stonewalling with open dialog.

God has something amazing planned for your marriage.