I cannot tell you how to keep being patient with your spouse when there seems to be no movement on his or her part in a direction that brings you closer. I can only tell you that patience may be what will turn a cold or bitter spouse warm. You see, I was the recipient of my husband’s patience for many years while I dealt with hurts and some of the baggage I carried into our marriage.
We have been married for 35 years and in the middle years 3 children, church and school activities, and other things I volunteered for caused us to drift apart. Then there was a hard issue and a comment made to me that was particularly hurtful. I pulled further away. We were on parallel roads, still cooperating to do all we committed to, but we were not close. Alan calls these “The Desert Years.” For almost 10 years I was not responsive to his needs although I did what needed to be done around the house and the children were cared for.
Once in a while, Alan would open a discussion about it and attempt to talk it out. I would speak of the hurt I felt and admit that I was neglecting him. We had long, emotional discussions and I’d forgive him but I would go back to the same behavior. His patience was seriously challenged during those years!
Don’t get the idea that he was a saint through it all though. We had all the usual daily stresses and blow-ups. He had his baggage and he’d rub me the wrong way too. With the up and down of neglect, promises of change, and then neglect again he would grow apathetic. When his needs welled up again he’d open a discussion again. 10 long years this crazy cycle went on!
This morning at church we were reminded that God’s love for us will outlast every time we turn away from him in rebellion. He will patiently be waiting for us to turn back to our relationship with him. When we do, there is nothing but love and acceptance. God holds no grudge; He does not condemn. There is no need to fear returning to his loving arms. It was years of that kind of love and patience, coming from my husband, that turned me around inside. He was the instrument of God that started the healing and refining in my soul.
You can see we are not perfect people and that is just the point. He did not have to be perfect in all areas to do this and neither do you. Even his patience grew thin at times. But over and over and over again I was accepted back and patiently loved in spite of my failings, and this started the healing. As I grew personally, we grew together and now have a close relationship I never thought possible.
I encourage you to greater patience and anticipation of how your marriage relationship will grow!