There was a time when my husband and I disagreed over trivial things -- such as how to fold towels. Later on, we'd wonder why these things were such a big deal. We discovered that it boiled down to a lack of trust in each other's heart. We invested even little things with doubts about each other.
We thought things like this: "If she loved me, she would..." or "She goofed up in that area, because she just doesn't care." "If he loved me, he would..." or "He acted that way because he's just mean."
We would assign motives before really talking things out, which I believe falls under Jesus admonitions against judging shallowly and falsely. We learned -- the hard way -- that it is always better to approach each other with an attitude of trust.
Our thinking changed to something like this: "He (or she) may be goofing up or even sinning in
the moment. This may be something that we do need to talk about. But, I have faith that we can get beyond this. I know that this is not what he (she) really wants deep inside. I know that he (she) loves God and that he (she) loves me. He (she) is a new creation in Christ, and that is his (her) true nature.
We stopped taking each other's quirks, little failings, and differences of opinions so personally. We started looking to each other's better nature and also putting our ultimate trust in God. Of course, we are not perfect in this. But, this is something that we learned that has added joy and richness to our love. Now, we can discuss problems -- even larger problems --calmly and with faith that God will lead us to work things out.
We learned the same thing with our children. As they have grown older, at different times, they have struggled with different things. Their faith has been tested in areas. We have learned -- in part because of great advice from other parents -- that our children will weather these storms much better if they know we have faith in God and in them. If children are going through a shaky time in life and they sense their parents are panicking over them, they will lose faith that they can make it through a time of trial. Conversely, if they are uncertain about something pertaining to growing up, they will handle it so much better if our faith is a refuge for them.
Now, that's not to say that we shouldn't be urgent for a spouse or a child who is floundering spiritually. But, there is a difference between urgency and giving way to fear and a lack of trust. Urgency, when combined with faith, moves us to pray, to speak the truth in love, and to look for ways to serve someone. Fear and lack of trust causes us to be critical, anxious, nagging, and ineffectual in helping someone overcome their problems.
In one of my favorite passages, Peter tells wives that we are Sarah's daughters if we do what is right and do not give way to fear. He tells us that the beauty of the holy women of the past was that they put their hope in God. Because their hope was in God, they were able to trust that God would take care of them, even if their husbands were not perfect.
Trust helps us in friendships, as well. We may see a friend act or hear them speak in a way that we do not understand at first. If we do not trust, we may be quick to put the wrong interpretation on that. It could be something as simple as thinking someone did not smile at us when they saw us at church. We then wonder, "Have I done something to offend her? Does she not like me anymore?" Later on, we may find out that our friend was battling a migraine or had just received some disturbing news. If we have a heart of trust, we will avoid reacting to things until we know the full story.
Trust involves thinking of the other person before we think of ourselves. If we are self-focused, we will react to others out of fear, self-protectiveness, and over-concern for our own feelings in a situation. If we are God-focused, we will trust, be patient, and find out the facts before we re-act.
In short: Be real about problems, but hold on to faith and love. Love always trusts...
For further study: I Corinthians 13:1-7, James 1:2-4, I Peter 2:20 through I Peter 3:9