You have probably heard the phrase, “You may win the battle but not the war.” Collins English Dictionary defines this to mean “you may have won the small conflict but lost the larger one.”

In marriage, when one person may appear to win a battle, both parties lose each other when they don’t put the relationship ahead of their differences.

As a counselor, I have seen couples focus on the actions of the other person and thus where they see themselves “right.” But even if they are right, they still have not won the other person over. It’s a defeat when the two aren’t “one” any longer.

Often we bring our own side into the marriage, even sides of our family that we came from. We can draw teams before we even come together in marriage. But as a team of two, what could be more important than your family relationship with each other and helping address what’s between you so that you can be a family unit, winning each other over and over again?

What could be better than these relationships working well?  The family unit is aggressively being assaulted, and we need every tool possible to help us. Home repairs are important, but relationship repairs are even more strategic.

How to Restore What Has Been Devastated

There have been many individuals who have walked into some very messed up situations historically. Completely devastated cities, families, and cultures. There was a man named Isaiah in the Bible who saw what took place in Israel and wrote an account of it. After seeing the destruction but also seeing what could come behind it that God would supply, he shared about those remaining: “They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations (Isaiah 61:4).”

Does this feel like a huge assignment? But has your heart been longing for it? Rebuilding the ruins that have been in your heart and restoring the places in your marriage that have been devastated.

Let’s go back to one of the major places of loss in marriages: differences of opinion. Many have written about men and women being from different planets – we are so different! How do we peacefully navigate those differences all day long? Maybe you aren’t even communicating much with your spouse right now but here’s an idea of how to start a conversation with him/her.

The Power of Words

We say to ourselves (as a reminder) and when appropriate to our spouses out loud: “Our relationship is more important than our differences of opinion.”  

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That’s the start! It seems so simple, doesn’t it? You may have devastating words that have gone between you. But you can bring it back to, “I care more about you than about being right.”

We encourage freedom of expression, but we encourage women and men not to fall on their swords over a difference of opinion. There’s a desire in us to “be right” but that’s where we might need to let go!  The marriage relationship is so much more important.  There’s grace-filled language for this too.  A sample is: “You, [spouse], and our relationship are more important than my view on this issue between us.  Can we think of some ways that we can agree so we can move through this together? I want ‘us’ to come first – so what do you think we need to do to make things better?” 

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Do you hear openness and not control?  Do you hear grace?  Do you hear investment in the relationship?  Want to try it?

Most of the time when what you both are holding onto is addressed (the need to feel validated, the need to be loved, the need to be heard, etc.), then the bigger issues between you can often spill forth when there is openness between you to share and to name the places that need repair on the inside at the core as you are working your way to the things on the outside.

Changing the Patterns

Also, the second part of what Isaiah addresses setting a new pattern in your family from previous generations. Perhaps you came into marriage with patterns of difficult behaviors, addictions, anger, abuse, neglect, and other things that you believed were in your past. But you need to formally break off anything that you still carry that is showing up in your marriage in your attitude as much as your actions.

A prayer that you can pray is:

Father God, in the name, power, authority and shed blood of Jesus I pray off all generational strongholds in my family. I pray to the tearing down of these generational patterns: sins from my mother’s and father’s family lines, addictions, vows that have been made to others and to entities that are outside of my control. I recognize and put an end to the damaging behaviors passed down through my family line  that I will not allow to continue in my generation. I receive the blood covering of Jesus who has made me the righteousness of God in Christ. 

Once you have prayed this prayer you are in a strong position to fight for your family! We love seeing families restored through the power of prayer and new beliefs that we see men, women, teens and children adopt. As a mom of school-aged children, I have seen how my desire to try to control my children or change them has interrupted our relationship. As a son or daughter, you may see this with your parents. Or if you are a parent, you may identify this happening in your relationship with your child. Often there can be things hanging between us and our child – a chasm that we need to address before the crevices between us deepen. A way to start a conversation with your loved one is to say, “I was wrong to [name what you recognize such as yelling, cutting off communication, lack of trust..]. Will you forgive me?” This opens the door for you to talk about things between you when you take responsibility for your part in the relationship. You aren’t putting onto the other person what’s theirs to own but only addressing what’s in your heart. This can be a breath of fresh air into the relationship to be the one to move toward the other person. It could be that you aren’t sure what to say when you have seen your child’s response to your or his/her distance from you.

Restoring Relationships One Step at a Time

What you can say in the harder moments is:  “I don’t know what to say, but I do care about you.  What do you need to hear from me or see from me right now?”

Not only do we want you to see it’s possible to have a mended marriage but also a restored relationship and coming back together with a child or teen.

Our heart is to encourage you to believe restoration and repair are not only possible but purposeful in your family. Mending the fabric that’s been torn between you is a vital step in rebuilding the family lines between you. Will you start new today, in this season, doing your part to be mended? We can’t make anyone do their part but we can sure do ours. After all, we’re more powerful in battle when we’re on the same side, for the same purpose, rather than opponents. Will you fight for freedom in your relationships today?

Prayer adapted from Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters, by Blythe Daniel and Dr. Helen McIntosh, 2019, Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. Copyright 2019 by Blythe Daniel and Dr. Helen McIntosh.

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