I am thrilled to have Mitzi and Mike Seals from Mike and Mitzi Ministries as our Friend Friday guests. They have been married for 30 years and have experienced the highs and lows of marriage. Their transparent story of faith, forgiveness, repentance, and restoration will truly inspire you, encourage you, and challenge you. Thru their ministry, Mike and Mitzi lead with passion, authenticity, and a realness that resonates with every day people. It's with great pleasure, we warmly welcome them to our blog today.
“I quit!” “It’s over!” “We’re done!” “Get out!” “I’m leaving!” Tragically, all these phrases are spoken way too often in our marriages today, even in Christian marriages. Why is that? What causes marriages to break down? Why do husbands and wives give up on what God put together?
Before the irreconcilable differences, before the constant yelling and screaming, before the catastrophic affair, before the extreme financial pressures, there is a disease that creeps into our marriages. We have seen as a consistent pattern as we have mentored and counseled couples for nearly 20 years. And it nearly took over our very own.
It is known as the “hardened heart."
You see, before a marriage comes to a screeching and tragic halt, there is a hardening of the heart(s). It usually begins to take place years before the “final straw”. The enemy, Satan, allows this disease to creep into our marriages. It masks itself as “normal” parts of every marriage. Its subtle at first but grows with more regularity and severity. It ultimately can lead to catastrophic failure.
Just as there is with our heart that pumps blood throughout our body, there are signs and symptoms that our hearts are getting hardened. Although the list is long, here are a few that we see often:
1. A Growing “Me” Attitude
This is a selfishness, a “what’s best for me attitude” which begins to set in.
- “My needs aren’t being met.”
- “What’s in it for me?”
- “I’m going to do what’s best for me for once.”
are all attitudes that begin to show signs of a heart problem.
The heart begins to harden in selfish environments.
2. Less and Less Meaningful Conversation
Instead of conversations about
- hopes and dreams,
- how is our marriage doing,
- each other’s needs,
- the future,
- the Lord,
if and when we do converse, it can largely evolve around schedules, tasks, and kids and we miss out on what is really important.
The heart begins to harden if we don’t share our hearts.
3. Physical intimacy becomes less and less
With the rat race of life and the constant demand on our schedules, physical intimacy can take a back seat. God created physical intimacy as a need and a holy pleasure … holding hands, frequent hugs, snuggling on the couch, and sex between a husband and wife are all beautiful pictures of physical intimacy.
When the physical aspects of marriage begin to become an after thought, the heart begins to harden.
4. Not really forgiving
We say we forgive, but in our heart we harbor our ill thoughts toward the perpetrator. We really don’t let go of the act that required the forgiveness. It can also reveal itself when we do not ask for forgiveness when we have hurt our spouse. Creating pain and hurt against our spouse and not recognizing the need to address it is a sign of heart hardening.
Unforgiveness is a breeding ground for heart hardening.
What's the Cure?
So what can we do? God has a plan. Throughout Scripture, God discusses the heart and what a healthy heart looks like. However, one simple verse packs a powerful punch.
Proverbs 4:23 says
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything flows from it.” NIV.
Another translation says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flows the springs of life.” NASB.
Man, these 15 words are so powerful and can totally remove the potential of your heart hardening. Let’s break it down.
1) Watch your heart,
Guard your heart. It is a daily, if not hourly reminder. If God says to watch and guard our heart, it implies there is a real enemy wanting to “steal, kill, and destroy” our marriage. What are we watching and guarding? We guard our
- lustful eyes (be on watch to what you are watching),
- time with God (making regular, daily worship time with Jesus),
- attitudes (have accountability partners that keep us focused),
- alone time with our spouses (we create regular opportunities for alone time, conversation and intimacy).
Guard your heart.
2) Above all else, with diligence
It’s of the utmost importance. We must
- be persistent, regular, and intense about guarding our heart.
- understand it’s a marathon and not a sprint.
- be disciplined and understand it takes work and effort.
- being in God’s word.
- in praying together as spouses.
- about corporate worship.
- be diligent about plugging into a small group of believers.
- be diligent about serving together as husband and wife in the Kingdom’s work.
3) The Springs of Life!
The blessings are that if we guard our heart with diligence, there will be an overflow of God’s love, mercy and grace pouring out to our spouse, children, friends, and community. From the heart “flows the springs of life”. A heart that is truly in tune with Jesus and God’s will for our lives will produce that which our spouses and marriages need to grow and flourish.
Growth and a life that flourishes!
God desires our marriages to thrive, not just survive. He wants our hearts to trust Him and to follow Him. He longs for us to be watchful and be diligent. When we do, He will produce a marriage that flourishes, is a blessing to each other, and is a testimony to the world that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
How about you, friend? What area spoke to you the most? What step or conversation do you want to incorporate into your marriage?
You can connect with Mike and Mitzi at www.mikeandmitzi.com and at https://www.facebook.com/Mikeandmitziministries
Mike & Mitzi have led small groups for nearly 20 years, marriage conferences for the last 5, and have mentored many couples one on one. Together, they have two grown children, Megan and Marshall, their son-in-law, Brooks, and their son's new fiance, Celene, who are a major part of their journey, story, and affections.
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