Hearts Set Free
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Tough Love
5 Keys To Staying Married
(when you feel like calling it quits)
By Elaine Creasman


One reason I kept seeing Steve as my enemy was that I kept track of everything he did wrong. I even wrote down his "crimes"—his critical re-marks, his lack of attentiveness toward me, for instance—on paper. Now when I start to make that list, God reminds me that love "keeps no record of wrongs" (1 Corinthians 13:5).

These days, I've decided to thank Steve for what he does right. I keep a record of these good things by daily jotting down something about Steve for which I'm thankful in my quiet-time journal. Sometimes I put these positives in a letter to Steve.

Occasionally when I slip back into he's-the-enemy thinking, Steve will say, "Honey, you're forgetting — we're a team." I appreciate his reminder, because I forget it all too often. We're partners working together to build a strong union and working against the Enemy who aims to destroy marriages.

3. Pray God's Way.

Instead of demanding that God do what I want in my husband's life, I've learned to ask, "How should I pray for Steve?" Then God gives me instructions and directs my prayers. One day I prayed, "How can I show love to Steve today?" I received a surprising answer: Iron his shirts. Steve knows I hate to iron, so that was a good way to show love. Even though it seemed to be such a little thing to me, Steve appeared so happy when he discovered me ironing his clothes.

Often during my prayer times, God uses his Word to bring me insights about true love. One verse he repeatedly brings to mind is 1 Corinthians 13:5, "Love does not demand on its own way" (TLB).

4. Love Your Husband Unconditionally.

Recently I complained to God that he still hadn't answered a few specific prayers about Steve I've been praying for years. I recalled two of Steve's habits that almost caused me to call off our wedding while we were engaged—his temper and his excessive television watching.

During that time, my attitude was, I'll love you again if you change. Steve wrote me letters promising he would. And he did—for a while.

Throughout the years of our marriage, I'm ashamed to admit I've sometimes waved those letters in front of him, demanding, "When are you going to keep your promises?" God convicted me that I still had a negative attitude and was holding back because of those habits. But I'll love you fully if you change in those two areas isn't in line with my marriage vows. The correct attitude is, I love you even if these two things never change.

Because of my wrong attitude, I've sometimes blocked the way for change, or been blind to how much Steve has changed—even in those two areas. And I've blocked the flow of love from my heart to Steve's.

One wise wife said, "My job's to love my husband; God's job is to change him." God wants me to love Steve fully and extravagantly, regardless of where he is in our life journey. After all, that's the way God loves us—unconditionally.

5. Give Your Marriage to God.

Just because I pray for our marriage doesn't mean I always succeed in giving my difficulties to God. I'm quite adept at praying feverishly about problems and then taking them back one second after my "amen." My Bible study teacher has taught me to pray, "God, you've got a problem," which keeps me from thinking I have to solve everything.

"I run in the path of your commands,
for you have set my heart free."
Psalm 119:32 NIV









































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