Sometimes when marriage is hard, it seems like it will never be good again. Sometimes when our spouse is in a bad mood it seems like they will never be in a good mood again. And when they've disappointed us or just aren't shaping up to be the version of themselves we envisioned when we married them, sometimes its hard to see our spouses in the best light.
I think this happens to all of us at some time or another. Here are three ways that have helped me to bring out the best in my spouse.
1. Believe that the "best version" of your spouse really is in there
Believing in our spouses is so important. Especially when we feel they aren't doing much to deserve it. We have to believe that the best version of themselves is in them. They need us to have faith in them. WE need us to have faith in them. I think it helps to visualize in your mind the squeakiest, friendliest, most pure version of your spouse you can envision and to bring that image to mind frequently.
Note: this is not the version of your spouse that YOU wish they would become (including a laundry list of things you wish they would do), but rather the version that God intended. Imagining them as a child of God innately worthy of all the love God and we can pour out on them.
Sometimes I like to think of God and I pairing up to help my husband Rich be the best Rich he can be. It helps me to visualize this version of Rich that I know is in there simply because he is a child of God.
2. Let go
To allow them to be their best selves, we have to let go of trying to control them in any way. We have to realize we are not responsible for their progression. We have to let them be them and find a way to love them even when they are not living up to that "best version" of them that we imagine.
Ironically, learning to let go is what brings the most freedom. When we let things just BE instead of trying to create the end result we desire, we are better able to see our spouse's merits.
3. Love unconditionally
Loving unconditionally goes hand in hand with letting go. To love unconditionally means simply to love without conditions; to put no ultimatums on our affection for our spouses. To not withhold our adoration when he doesn't do the dishes, when she doesn't initiate intimacy, when he doesn't help with the kids or when she nags to much. To learn to talk openly about things that need to change and to love them despite these things.
God is the ultimate example of this. There is nothing we can do, no amount of mistakes committed to deserve God's love less and no amount of good deeds will make us deserve it more. God's love has no conditions whatsoever. He loves us all simply by being His children. That doesn't mean there aren't certain things He wants us to do and ways He wants us to act, but His love for us does not ride a roller coaster of our accomplishments or obedience. It is not conditional on our behavior or attitudes.
What if we loved our spouses a little more like this? To solve our problems when they needed to be solved, not shying away from honest feelings and communication, butto not let our love for our spouses be affected by their actions.
Celeste loves dishing out unsolicited marriage advice over at A Thing Called Love Blog. Mom of three, wife of one, she's a big believer in the power of redemption, the power of kindness and the power of Netflix. Also cheese.