Working Toward Harmonious Relationships

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I’ve remembered what this speaker said for decades.

I don’t remember his main topic or even where I heard him. But at some point in his talk, he mentioned a husband forgetting his wedding anniversary. And then he said something like this: “Wives, don’t stand back with arms folded, tapping your foot, waiting to see if he remembers, and then lowering the boom when he doesn’t. Help him remember.”

How wise. “Getting after him” in some way—pouting, anger, silent treatment—will only make him feel guilty, maybe even defensive. And the day that’s supposed celebrate love turns into a negative experience. You might think, “Well, he ruined it first.” However, we can either redeem the situation or make it worse by our reaction.

My husband doesn’t usually forget special occasions. But this speaker’s advice  filtered into my thinking to apply generally to how we deal with each other’s foibles. “Punishing” or getting back at each other or stewing in resentment compounds the negative and widens the breach. How can we work towards harmony and away from dissension?

Look for ways to help.

Perhaps a week or two before an anniversary (or birthday or whatever), we could casually say, “Do you want to do anything special on our anniversary?” We could even invite him to something we’ve planned.

This principle goes so much farther than marriage and anniversaries. It applies to any relationship. If a child constantly forgets a chore, instead of incessantly nagging, we can find another way to help them remember: a chore chart, a privilege after his work is done, etc. If a wife is constantly late, perhaps a husband can help the kids get their shoes on so that’s one less thing she has to do.

Confront kindly when necessary.

Does that mean we can never confront each other about a problem or tell another when he has hurt our feelings or offended us in some way? No, of course not. Working out these issues helps the relationship progress and get even closer—if the issue is handled in a kind, thoughtful, edifying way rather than an angry or punishing manner.

“Do unto others . . “

Jesus said, “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them” (Luke 6:31). Would we want someone to scowl or withdraw if we failed them in some way? Or would we prefer a frank discussion? Would a preliminary reminder help, or would that seem like nagging?

Take into account different personalities and “love languages.

Perhaps a husband shows love by working hard, keeping up with repairs at home, keeping the lawn mowed. Tell him how much you appreciate all of that—and then suggest that, just every now and then, flowers or candy or a nice dinner out or watching a romantic movie together would really make you feel special. Perhaps she showers you with gifts, but you’d really appreciate a compliment once in a while. There might not be a way for her to know that unless you gently and kindly tell her.

Choose what’s most important.

Perhaps he leaves things out of place. We might resent that he’s created even more work for us. We could tell him how debris around the house makes us feel. Or we could just pick it up.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8).

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses (Proverbs 10:12).

Forbear and forgive.

None of us has to be doormats. We should never put up with abuse or outright sin. But we do have to accept that no one is perfect. (This article helps differentiate between things we shouldn’t let go).

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3).

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:12-14).

Build up instead of tearing down.

However we handle these issues, we need to keep in mind our goal. The aim isn’t “Everyone do everything my way”—or shouldn’t be. The goal is harmony, feeding and increasing our love for each other, and building one another up.

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. (Proverbs 14:1)

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Romans 14:19).

Sometimes a choir or musical group will sing in unison, but more often they sing in harmony. Different voices bring different tones and notes into play, yet the outcome is all the more beautiful for the differences that come together into a beautiful whole. It takes a lot to get to that place. The composer has to arrange the piece. The leader has to interpret it. The instrumentalists and singers all have to learn their parts. They have have to practice together several times. Some might be too loud or soft, too fast or slow at first. But finally, each individual part works together with the rest, and the effect can bring tears to our eyes.

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:5-6).

What are ways you work towards harmony in relationships?

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday [Anita wrote about relationships this week, too, and brought out factors I hadn’t thought about], Global Blogging, Senior Salon,
Hearth and Soul, Literary Musing Monday, Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story,
Happy Now, InstaEncouragement, Anchored Abode, Recharge Wednesday,
Share a Link Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee, Heart Encouragement,
Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network)

36 thoughts on “Working Toward Harmonious Relationships

  1. I like your idea of harmony — of it taking many different voices to create melody. Very true. I’ve used all of these strategies in life; they’re all helpful. Choosing one’s battles is important, and for me tuning out hurtful words is helpful too. Repeating (mentally) mantras (“help me, Jesus,” “Jesus, I trust you,” etc) is another thing I use often.

  2. Oh, I love this post. If only I could have seen it 40 years ago. I might have saved myself a lot of heartache. The idea of “building up rather than tearing down” should come naturally to those of us in love but sometimes we have to learn the hard way.

  3. Barbarah,
    This is remarkable.
    At the end of the day, we are dealing with people, humanity – and people are the most fascinating of beings. Each personality and individuality wants to shine. Unless there is harmony, peace and joy, growth is stifled.
    I have shared the post.

  4. I am fortunate to have a husband who’s really good at remembering important dates. We have had a few conversations about what is important to one of us when the other hasn’t made it a priority. One thing you shared is giving gentle reminders about upcoming things. I love that idea. I need to figure out how to implement that better with my teenaged sons. 🙂

    Early in our relationship, my husband taught me how to listen to him in a way where he feels respected. This has been a real strengthener for our marriage.

  5. That was fantastic advice you heard. No wonder it’s stuck with you all these years. I’ve always believed too that if I want Jeff to remember something, it’s okay to remind him ahead of time. 🙂 And vice-versa. Expecting each other to be mind-readers is such a killer to relationships.

  6. Great advice, Barbarah! The second (or third) marriage-related post I’ve read today and I’ve got someone on my mind that needs this! Thanks for posting. Sharing…

    Pinned.

    Thank you for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

  7. What great things to remember and focus on in any relationship. Here’s my favorite quote from this article, “However, we can either redeem the situation or make it worse by our reaction.” This is so true!!

  8. What a practical post! I especially agree with taking in account the love language of your spouse. My husband and I are SO different in our love languages and it is far too easy to “translate” his intentions through my own lens of how I feel most loved, missing out on ways he is trying to communicate his love for me.

    • That’s so true. I think that’s one problem with the love language idea–feeling that the other person has to communicate in ours for us to appreciate it. But it helps if we understand their intentions.

  9. Such a good post, Barbara. We can set one another up to be successful in our relationships and bring so much harmony in so doing, into our marriages and homes.

  10. Such good reminders. I need to be more intentional in building my husband up and giving him the energy to be a good husband. My love language is words of affirmation, and sometimes I withhold them from the person I love the most in this world!

  11. You have some wise words, my friend! Pedro and I decided early on that we would take turns planning anniversary celebrations—and since we work in education, our December anniversary often falls during one of the most hectic times of a school year. So, we just celebrate it when we can ;). I’ve actually forgotten my birthday before 😳🤣. One thing we do to live in harmony with each other is to choose each other on a daily basis. After 31 years of marriage, we are well aware of each other’s foibles, but we choose each other anyway.

  12. Pingback: February Reflections | Stray Thoughts

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