Growing in a Relationship of Mercy as couples


“Be merciful, just as your (heavenly) Father is merciful.” (Luke chapter 6, verse 36, the Bible)
Mercy is the unconditional love we encounter, that we know we don’t deserve, but desperately need. It’s the love that God shows us when we are at our worst. Our relationship as couples is a beautiful opportunity to grow in expressing mercy to one another, because we all need it. And it usually results in greater closeness in our relationship, because receiving and expressing mercy has great power to soften our own heart and our partner’s heart. At the same time, living out a relationship of mercy is not easy. In this article, we will consider the obstacles to mercy and what helps us grow in a relationship of mercy as couples.

We tend to see our partner in a distorted way, especially when we’ve been treated poorly – they’ve acted in a selfish or uncaring or thoughtless way – and in our eyes, they become those things.
So, an obstacle to mercy is identifying our partner with their behaviour.
We could instead ask Jesus to help us see our partner through his eyes. As they sense our new attitude, they’re more likely to let down their defenses, and the whole tenor of our relationship with them can change.
This can help us grow in a relationship of mercy.
Stop judging. Stop condemning (Luke 6:37).

When we feel hurt /wounded, we tend to focus on how we’ve been offended; not how we might have wronged /offended our partner. And we hold on to grudges, resentment and refuse to forgive.
So, an obstacle to mercy is unforgiveness.
What if you asked Jesus to show you, how you may have hurt your partner in some way or other? That might soften your heart so that you can forgive them. And if you approach them to tell them that you are sorry, it might just open up an opportunity for mutual forgiveness and reconciliation. Even if your partner struggles to forgive you, your forgiveness and entrusting your partner to Jesus in hope, will unburden and free your own heart to move forward and flourish.
Nurturing the desire to make even the 5% wrong on my part right by expressing sorrow, and forgiving my partner for their part, helps us grow in a relationship of mercy.
Forgive and you will be forgiven (Luke 6:37).

When we feel hurt, our tendency is to withhold love from our partner. This can manifest itself in different ways: silence, ignoring them, snide or sarcastic remarks, finding fault with them, putting them down etc.
An obstacle to mercy is seeking to punish /take revenge.
We show our love to our partners by giving of ourselves to them. The more generous we are with our time, attention, and affection, the more our relationship will tend to grow and flourish. Then the more “gifts” of love and affection we are able to receive from the other person in return.
Being generous with our love helps us grow in a relationship of mercy.
Give and gifts will be given to you (Luke 6:38).

When your partner has the confidence that you are committed to forgive and love him/her, when they fail to love you as they should, it brings peace and stability in the relationship.
It will also likely free your partner to be honest and open about their mistakes /failings and express sorrow, because they know they will be met with understanding and love.
So, it encourages greater transparency in the relationship and allows you and your partner to deal with guilt in a healthy way, rather than hiding from a place of fear and shame.

I encourage you to take some time, to separately pray and consider where you might need to take steps to overcome obstacles and grow in a relationship of mercy. Then come together to share with one another your sorrow and ask for forgiveness, in areas where needed. Take time to also affirm your partner; naming the gifts and good qualities that you see in her /him. Finally, share with your partner, any decisions you’ve made to be generous with your love toward her /him.

May we all continue to grow as couples, in a relationship of mercy!

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