I told my husband that I would be writing a piece about marriage and I asked him what he thought I should write about. I don’t normally do this, but I was curious about what he would say. His answer took me by surprise in a way that made my heart melt. His answer reminded me why I fell in love with him in the first place.
“Write about how you stick with it no matter what. Write about how to do that.”
I was intrigued. “So how do you do that?”
“That’s why you are the writer, Katie. You know how to explain things.”
While this conversation may make us look like the perfect little couple our story paints a picture of anything but. In fact, there was a time when the “D-Word” was used weekly and the only communication in our home was yelling. Our marriage had hit rock bottom.
You know how the saying goes, once you hit rock bottom the only way out is up? The truth is, with marriage, there are two ways…out or up. I remember the day we sat down and said to each other that divorce was not an option and promised to never use that word in our marriage again. We dismissed the option of “out” but we had no idea how to go up.
I wish I could tell you that after a few more heart to heart chats that things got all better, but we didn’t know how to talk to each other. I wish I could say we found the perfect counselor that fixed all our problems, but my husband refused to go to counseling. The truth is, finding our way up took two years and two ingredients…mustard seed and yeast.
I think it’s important for you to know that my husband was not a believer during this time in our marriage, but God used our failing marriage to call me back from my wayward years. In this season, I spent most of my time with my nose in my Bible and biting my lip so that I wouldn’t say anything awful to my husband. I spent a lot of time in prayer and seeking God’s will for my marriage. Here is what God taught me in that season.
Faith the size of a mustard seed saved our marriage.
Many of us think of moving mountains with the faith of a mustard seed but in Luke 13:18-19 Jesus talks about how one small mustard seed can grow into a tree that helps other lives flourish.
Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.”
Luke 13:18-19 NIV
When my husband and I decided that our marriage would work, before we knew how to make it work, we were planting a seed of faith. That declaration of faith has grown into a family. That family has reached out of our home to extend friendships. Our mustard seed of faith has helped expand the love of Jesus and the kingdom of God.
As I mentioned, even though we had the faith to declare our marriage would work we didn’t know how to fix our marriage. That’s where the next ingredient comes in.
The yeast that made it rise.
We had years of bitterness and hurt to combat. We had used our words with each other to break down and not build up. I’m sorry was a good start but didn’t repair the damage. The first thing we did was stop the bleeding. We didn’t say anything to each other unless it was positive or helpful. I’ll remind you that my husband was not a believer and did not have the fruit of the Spirit on his side during this time. This meant he did not stick to his end of the bargain. I had to learn how to use my words to build up even if my husband didn’t.
Let me share a secret about men. They need a lot of encouragement, especially from their wives. Complimenting my husband in this season was hard, I needed a plan. I made up my mind to compliment my husband five times a day. When I couldn’t think of anything nice, I spoke to the man I wanted him to become. Over time my husband softened towards me and I started to see him reciprocate. These little acts of love towards my husband worked as a small amount of yeast that ultimately grew into something bigger that restored our marriage.
Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
Luke 13:20-21 NIV
Those years I spent with my nose in the Bible, learning and being obedient to God’s commands, not only restored my marriage but were a witness to my husband. It was hard. I wanted my husband to be the spiritual leader during that season, but God chose me to lead my husband to Christ. When my husband came to faith he credited it to watching the transformation in my life and behavior. For that I am eternally grateful.
Our marriage is still a work in progress, but we know the right ingredients when we go off course. A mustard seed of faith and acts of kindness that work as yeast to make our marriage grow.