Remember back when I wrote about how my marriage used to be like a pressure cooker, and that maybe yours is to? Remember how I told you I would post the very next day about what you can do if you find yourself in a pressure cooker marriage to reduce that pressure? Well, the best laid plans and all.
Anyway, here I find myself finally with some time while Libby does a little extra reading on her own. The dishwasher is running, as are the washing machine and dryer. And so my thoughts turn to pressure cooker marriages.
If you have read through my pressure cooker post and find that perhaps your marriage is similar to what I described, don't lose heart. There are some steps that you can take to reduce that pressure and to bring more peace and love to your marriage.
The first thing you need to do is stop and pray. Make the choice to commit your marriage to God for Him to fix, and follow through on what He tells you to do. If you really want to fix it, if you really acknowledge that both you and your spouse have issues to deal with, God will lead and guide you to a better marriage.
The second thing you need to do is sit down and have a real, honest conversation with your spouse. Go on a date, or have someone watch the kids so you can have some alone time at home if you don't want to have the discussion in public. This is crucial. If both you and your spouse can acknowledge a problem and agree to work to fix it, your work will be much easier. If you try to have this conversation and your spouse blows you off and doesn't agree that there are issues that need to be worked on, you can still do this.
The pressure tends to build up in a marriage when a couple has a hard time addressing and working through conflict. I know this was definitely the case in my marriage. I wrote a post a while back on dealing with conflict appropriately. Basically, if you are in any kind of relationship (whether with a friend or child or spouse), you will experience conflict. Learning how to work through it greatly improves your relationship and works wonders towards bringing you and that person closer together instead of farther apart. Learn some tools and utilize them.
Sometimes the pressure builds when wives feel unloved and/or husbands feel disrespected. Ladies, lets face it. With how we use our words we have the power to either destroy our husbands or make them walk on air. Your husband speaks the language of respect. It's how God made them. When you speak in a way that makes your husband feel respected (the Bible says, basically, whether they deserve it or not; don't worry, it says the same about you), it will speak volumes into his man-heart and will also do a lot towards reducing the pressure in your marriage. And after a while (this is particularly for the wife whose husband does not agree to work on the pressure-issue with her), if your husband really feels like you respect him he will work harder to make you feel loved. Be intentional with this.
And finally, throughout the course of an argument or just any random conversation, your spouse may say something that hurts you. I am a feeler, so I really have to work hard at how I respond when my spouse has said something that hurt my feelings. This is another thing that can potentially build or reduce pressure. If you react defensively and lash out at your spouse for what they said, this will only continue you around and around in that pressure cooker while the pressure builds. If you react with grace, you can diffuse the situation and let out some of the pressure.
Through all of these things, the main point is that you have to be intentional in your marriage, FOR your marriage. Take steps toward your spouse with loving words and genuine care. Like the old saying goes, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Make the choice to stop adding to the heat in your pressure cooker marriage by addressing conflict in a constructive way when it arises, treat your spouse in a loving and respectful way, and offer your spouse grace. Pray over your marriage, over your relationship, and commit to doing YOUR part in changing for the better. I would never deceive you by saying it is easy. I have done the hard work. I continue to do the hard work. And I am reaping the benefits of cultivating the soil of my marriage. I encourage you to as well.