The day my oldest daughter was born, I held her in my arms in the hospital and made two promises: “First, I promise I will never leave your mother; and second, I’ll show up. I’ll do everything I can to be at your recitals and ball games and dinner around the table.”
My baby laid there in my arms blinking, breathing, oblivious to the magnitude of the words I was saying.
My promises seemed so valiant when I made them at the hospital. But when I got home, I realized my daughter was going to need my wife and me to do a lot more than just stay married and love each other. She needed to see a regular demonstration of our love. That was not our strong suit.
While we loved each other deeply, we were in a constant battle for control and both of us were losing as we bickered and bickered. Having a baby in the house made us more self-conscious about what we sounded like – especially to the ears of a little one. We made an unspoken agreement to change.
I’d like to say we immediately abandoned our old habits and learned how to disagree without being disagreeable. That, however, would not be true. We still struggled, but at least we were finally making an effort to resist our dysfunctional patterns of behavior.
Over the years we made a lot of progress, which was largely due to confessing our struggles with Christian friends and praying things like “Father, please show me how I need to change.”
God responded, showing us unflattering things about our character that we didn’t want to see. It was humbling and made us less likely teo assume we were always right when there was a conflict. It also had an unexpected benefit: We became more affectionate to each other.
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