A few weeks ago, Trish and I were signing books after a speaking engagement and a young guy handed me his book and began to shake my hand.
“I’m not married yet,” he said, “but I’m engaged to be married. What is the one avoidable mistake you see couples make that I can learn from?”
It was a great question. There was lots of pressure to name one thing. I shared with him what I am sharing with you.
There is one thing that starts out in most marriages but over time goes missing. This one thing makes great marriages good; extraordinary marriages ordinary; average marriages struggle and bad marriages toxic.
The one thing that is missing: gentleness
So many couples are missing gentleness in their relationship. Many couples have gone so long without it that they’ve become numb to their need for it. They’ve settled for marriage minus gentleness.
Gentleness is a disposition. Gentleness makes up the character and heart of a relationship.
Gentleness doesn’t fly off the handle when your husband is late for dinner.
Gentleness doesn’t lose it’s temper when your wife drops her iPhone on accident.
Gentleness refuses to give level ten responses to level two issues.
Gentleness reminds your spouse of all that they are not all that they are not.
Gentleness says we’re fighting for each other not with each other.
Gentleness is humble enough to admit you’re wrong and doesn’t gloat or keep score when you’re right.
It sets the tone and direction of every conversation and disagreement. Gentleness paves the way for forgiveness and conflict resolution. It is the thermostat of every marriage.
Even when you can’t describe gentleness, you know what it looks like when you see it.
A few days ago, I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a beautiful display of gentleness. My friends Tim and Faith Stevens were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. Gentleness only grows over time if it is intentional. This post is full of gentleness. Harshness might make someone obedient or compliant, but gentleness wins their heart.
There is this powerful Scripture in the New Testament that talks about gentleness.
Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
There is this reality that the longer I walk with God, the more gentle I should become.
How gentle are you with your wife? Do you give her the benefit of the doubt? Do you lead with love and grace instead of accusation and guilt?
How gentle are you with your husband? Does he look forward to coming home from work to be with you or dread coming home because he’ll be yelled at or made to feel like a failure?
People think they need more communication, more sex, more money, more conflict resolution to have a better marriage. Maybe.
But what guarantees a better marriage…gentleness.
Gentleness will change everything.