by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey
I have spent the past few weeks presenting a case for staying in your marriage. I’ve shown you how unrealistic expectations are often the root of our problem. But as a marriage counselor I know there is still a huge obstacle to overcome. The one that says “Yeah, but…I love him/her, but I’m not in love anymore.” In our Christian culture, we have a term for this condition. We call it the “hardened heart.”
Like many things in the Bible, that term has been taken and twisted. In this case, it gets used to support a waning emotional or sexual connection to a spouse. People will tell me, “I can’t live in a loveless marriage.” In other words, they’ve “lost that lovin’ feeling.” Those struggling with this problem believe their heart needs to “soften” to stay married.
Jesus said the truth will set us free, so I have a truth bomb for you. It is IMPOSSIBLE for a believer to have a hard heart. When you accepted Christ, you got a heart transplant. It’s forever soft because it’s where Jesus lives. God promised this in Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
There are many other scriptures that will back my point, but in the interest of brevity, I will ask you to trust me on this one. You don’t have a hard heart. What you have is a hard head. That cold, numb feeling you have toward your spouse is seated in your emotions, not your heart. As any psychologist will tell you, your emotions are under the dictatorship of your head. That is why God tells us “we transform our lives by the renewing of our minds” (Romans) not by the changing of our heart.
God knew how we think and believe instructs how we feel and behave. If we have a negative belief, our brain will look for evidence to support the idea and ignore evidence to the contrary. Psychology calls this a “confirmation bias.” That’s a fancy way of saying you become stubborn and set against something. When that happens, our emotions follow the belief. Negative bias equals negative emotions. People follow those emotions into affairs and divorce court.
Think back to when you first met your mate and had on your “rose-colored glasses.” You saw everything about them a positive light. Remember the warm, fuzzy feelings that accompanied those glasses? That, my friend, is a confirmation bias set on a positive belief. Your spouse didn’t change, your glasses did.
The book of Proverbs has a scripture it repeats two times. When God says it twice He wants us to pay extra close attention. The scripture reads as follows, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” That’s a warning to tell us no matter how strongly we feel about something, if we aren’t thinking like God’s thinking, we are headed for disaster.
When it comes to your marriage, are you thinking like God’s thinking? If you have a negative mindset, I promise you are not. Fortunately, there is an antidote for that, it’s called repentance. Repentance, in the Bible, simply means to change your mind. Change your mind about your spouse. Start seeing them through Jesus glasses. Look for things they do right and forgive them for being human, and see if those warm fuzzy’s don’t return.