If you are at all familiar with the Bible, you know that it mentions that God is not a fan of divorce. Quite frankly, He hates it (Malachi 2:16). With that information alone, we can deduce that avoiding divorce is high on God’s list of priorities and that we should fight for the marriage to not only survive, but thrive.

That is easy in thought, but in action, it takes every bit of emotional and mental energy that we possess to fight for our marriage. Why? Because God created men and women very different. Not only do we have physical differences, but we are hard-wired differently when it comes to the way we think, the way we feel, the way we process information and the way we interact with people, just to name a few things. So of course it is going to be difficult to work with someone who is so different from us.

My pastor often says, “We judge other people by their actions but we judge ourselves by our intentions.” If you think about that for a minute, you will agree with him. We often show ourselves far more grace than we do to those whom we claim to love the most. I believe that if we learn to empathize with our spouses, we will find that we are not nearly as frustrated with them. And frustration often leads to fights and arguments.

God instructs husbands to love their wives so much that they would lay down their lives for them (Ephesians 5:25) and he instructs wives to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22). These commands to us as husbands and wives are often hard to swallow. I mean, there are many husbands who choose not to lay down their lives for their wives and just as many wives who think that submission is outdated. However, when these commands are followed, there is such freedom.

The typical thing a married couple does is fight. Unfortunately, they fight IN their marriage instead of fighting FOR their marriage. Be very careful what you say in the heat of the moment. It is not wise to speak when you emotions are heightened. The best strategy is to step away and not say anything when your blood is boiling. You can share your hurt and frustrations later when things have calmed down. One of the things that I try to do is not say something that I will have to apologize for later. Regret is something I’ve experienced many times because of things I’ve said to my husband. And when I’ve said harsh, hurtful words, I have to go back to him, with a feeling of defeat, and make amends. It may feel good in the moment to sin, but that pleasure is short-lived.

My challenge to you today is to make sure that your spouse knows how committed you are to the success of your marriage. Be willing to empathize with your spouse and try to see the situation from a perspective other than your own. And make the choice today to follow an old saying that we’ve all heard: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.