The One Thing Missing In Many Marriages

A few weeks ago, Trish and I were signing books after a speaking engagement and a young guy handed me his book and began to shake my hand.

“I’m not married yet,” he said, “but I’m engaged to be married. What is the one avoidable mistake you see couples make that I can learn from?”

It was a great question. There was lots of pressure to name one thing. I shared with him what I am sharing with you.

There is one thing that starts out in most marriages but over time goes missing. This one thing makes great marriages good; extraordinary marriages ordinary; average marriages struggle and bad marriages toxic.

The one thing that is missing: gentleness 

So many couples are missing gentleness in their relationship. Many couples have gone so long without it that they’ve become numb to their need for it. They’ve settled for marriage minus gentleness.

Gentleness is a disposition. Gentleness makes up the character and heart of a relationship.

Gentleness doesn’t fly off the handle when your husband is late for dinner.

Gentleness doesn’t lose it’s temper when your wife drops her iPhone on accident.

Gentleness refuses to give level ten responses to level two issues.

Gentleness reminds your spouse of all that they are not all that they are not.

Gentleness says we’re fighting for each other not with each other.

Gentleness is humble enough to admit you’re wrong and doesn’t gloat or keep score when you’re right.

It sets the tone and direction of every conversation and disagreement. Gentleness paves the way for forgiveness and conflict resolution. It is the thermostat of every marriage.

Even when you can’t describe gentleness, you know what it looks like when you see it.

A few days ago, I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a beautiful display of gentleness. My friends Tim and Faith Stevens were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. Gentleness only grows over time if it is intentional. This post is full of gentleness. FullSizeRenderHarshness might make someone obedient or compliant, but gentleness wins their heart.

There is this powerful Scripture in the New Testament that talks about gentleness.

Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

There is this reality that the longer I walk with God, the more gentle I should become.

How gentle are you with your wife? Do you give her the benefit of the doubt? Do you lead with love and grace instead of accusation and guilt?

How gentle are you with your husband? Does he look forward to coming home from work to be with you or dread coming home because he’ll be yelled at or made to feel like a failure?

People think they need more communication, more sex, more money, more conflict resolution to have a better marriage. Maybe.

But what guarantees a better marriage…gentleness.

Gentleness will change everything. 

32 Responses to The One Thing Missing In Many Marriages

  1. Pingback: Gentleness | thisramblinggirl

  2. Stefanie

    thank you for this. even though i’m single, i want to start my next relationship right with my boyfriend, and god.

  3. maria

    thank you for this reminder. i do get off the handle once in a while and after that i feel bad. maria

  4. gouki

    Gentleness is needed in all relationships. Not only marriages.

  5. Mary Larson

    This made me realize what I am missing in my marriage. Thank you!

  6. Welly Chandrawan

    Harshness might make someone obedient or compliant but gentleness wins their heart. 🙂

  7. Zac

    Good passage but trying too hard to elaborate on the word “genlteness”. This word is meant to be specific and not being used as a broad term to support what the contents are driving to. Also, i don’t just disagree with the last two sentences, it’s actually wrong to say that. There is no one factor that changes or determine any outcome. As long as human intervention or presence within the problem sum, multiple factors are always involved in deriving the outcome.

  8. Kellye

    Amen! While especially true in marriage, this is a key ingredient in all relationships. I see it missing in parenting and with our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well.

    • Justin and Trisha

      I totally agree with you Kellye. We do our best to encourage our kids to have a gentle spirit.

  9. Tina Mcneil

    Very inspiring story very touching maybe one day I’ll have a story to tell in my life about marriage.

  10. Rachel

    Thanks for this excellent reminder of how lucky I am to be married to a gentle man. After 26 years of marriage I read this article and realized that this quality he has, not just for me, but for all of mankind was probably the reason I marr

  11. Pingback: Fruits of the Spirit - Gentleness

  12. Beth

    I was married for 29 years to my highschool sweetheart. I lost him to cancer 8 years ago. I think back to all of the ungentle arguments we had and I regret those most of all! I grew up a Christian. He became a Christian before he passed away. I am now re married to a wonderful, gentle, Christian man and I am now more gentle, consciencely. He had a bad first marriage and we are way more aware of what NOT to do. Gentleness makes a tremendous difference in the life of a marriage. Wish I would have realized that the first time!

  13. anon

    Harshness is what cost my kids’ mom her marriage. I was always emotionally hurting and she never got it.

  14. Nancy Pilgrim

    I am interested in the seminar in Austin in September. Please send me more information.

  15. N. F. Persson-MacKay

    What an eye opener…with only ONE WORD solving a multitude of issues. ?

  16. Tammy herbster

    So true
    37 years I look back at what if..,
    Why did I not get it?
    I pray I will practice gentleness & compassion

  17. Genaro Martinez, Jr.

    Great word, for but especially for couples who have settled for a pattern of responding harshly to situations they may not otherwise know how to handle. Getting back to the fruit of the Spirit is a great step to take…