Gentleness in marriage can seem rather straightforward. Be nice. Be kind. Speak softly. Don’t be harsh. And all of these actions ARE important in a healthy marriage relationship.
Gentleness as a manifestation of God’s work in a person’s life, however, has a more robust meaning in the original language (Greek) and therefore a more varied application in our marriage. The truer meaning of the word would be “meekness,” but that often gives the impression a weak, milquetoast individual who defers to everyone. To shake that impression, remember that Jesus was described as meek—but he was always strong with his opposition, and even zealous with injustice (remember the whips and the temple cleansing?).
Here are three areas of definition and application as the fruit of gentleness is worked out in our marriages by God’s Spirit:
Gentleness Toward God
Gentleness toward God will yield gentleness toward our spouse. It’s not “sexy,” or creative or insightful. But it’s basic, foundational and inescapable truth for our marriage.
It’s your choice. You can be aggressive and rebellious to God’s design for you and your marriage or submissive. The marriage that has God’s blessing and empowerment will be the one where each spouse seeks to honor Him.
Gentleness toward God says, “I want my marriage to be under your authority. I want to submit and surrender to your Word and plans for me and us.
Here are some ways to keep your heart gentle toward God. They don’t directly relate to your marriage, but the impact will be immeasurable:
- Read the Bible daily.
- As you read, ask God to reveal Himself to you and show you who He wants you to become.
- Determine each day one thing you can do to surrender to God’s leadership your life.
Gentleness Reflected in Teachability
When your spouse has insights or suggestions, how do you respond? Consider this…
- Do you bristle because you feel challenged?
- Do you tend to cut them off and shut them down because you already “know” what they are going to say and you’ve pre-determined that it’s wrong?
- Do you belittle or demean their suggestion?
By being open to your spouse’s insights, suggestions, and wisdom you are displaying gentleness toward them. This doesn’t mean you have to accept or agree with what is being offered, but the manner in which you listen and regard their opinion matters.
- Keep eye contact as they share their thoughts.
- Respond back with a paraphrase of what you heard to be sure you got it right.
- Thank your spouse, engage in dialogue, and be open to redirecting your decision or direction based on their input.
Remember: your spouse is God’s gift to you to complete you. Their opinions are to be treasured and weighed sincerely.
Gentleness in Being Considerate
When we have gentleness toward God and in our teachability:
- Our hearts will be inclined through Jesus’ empowerment to look out for the best interests of our spouse.
- We become attentive to their needs and how we can meet them.
- Our tone of voice loses it’s edge and becomes warmer and more inviting.
- Our proactivity to serve our spouse is spurred on by the alignment of our heart to Jesus.
As you conclude reading this post, stop and ask God to reveal to you how you can show gentleness today to your spouse. Then, with God’s help, follow through as you build your marriage!