Shame

Genesis 2

The last words of Genesis 2 reads, "the man and his wife were both naked and unashamed." When this is read, it should be interpreted as the man and wife living, abiding in, complete freedom. This word naked in the Hebrew means "to be exposed". It relates to more than the physical connotation we may tend to give it in today's times. It covers all realms of our being, in other words, completely vulnerable, hiding nothing. So let's reread this with that knowledge. The man and his wife were both completely vulnerable, hiding nothing from one another and unashamed. Wow!! Can you even imagine? Yet, this was God's original purpose in marriage.

Genesis 3

In Genesis 3 sin enters. The enemy convinces Adam and Eve that God is not good. This is where the state of being unashamed turns and shame falls on both of them. The first inward response was shame. Many couples encounter challenges that test their commitment, communication, and emotional resilience. Shame is at the forefront, stemming from past experiences, misunderstandings, or unmet expectations. God never intended for us to walk and live in shame. His desire is for us to live in complete freedom. Let's explore some biblical principles for overcoming shame in marriage:

Openness and Vulnerability

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, his original intent was for us to be open and vulnerable with each other. Because of sin, this does not come naturally, but needs to be something that we strive for on a consistent basis. This gives couples a place where they can share their deepest fears and insecurities without fear of judgment. By fostering an atmosphere of acceptance, couples can address shame head-on and work together towards healing.

Forgiveness

Because sin entered, we will make mistakes and forgiveness will be required to live in the fullness of what God intends for us. Ephesians 4:32 reminds us to "be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Forgiveness plays a pivotal role in overcoming shame in marriage. Both partners must be willing to extend grace and mercy to one another, acknowledging their imperfections and past mistakes. Couples can create space for restoration and renewal within their relationship by releasing resentment and bitterness.

Communication

We all know how important our communication is. In reading scripture, we know that our words contain life or death (Proverbs 18:21). We also understand through scripture that we should be quick to hear and slow to speak (James 1:19). Proverbs 15:1 teaches us that "a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." So our communication is a huge part of who we are as an individual and as a couple. Effective communication is essential in addressing shame within marriage. Couples are encouraged to communicate with empathy, compassion, and humility, seeking to understand each other's perspectives and emotions. Giving respect to one another through our communication is an expression of love that opens the gateway to trust and vulnerability.

Seeking Counsel

Proverbs 11:14 states, "Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety." Seeking wise counsel from trusted mentors, pastors, or marriage counselors can provide invaluable support in overcoming shame in marriage. Godly guidance can offer practical tools and strategies for addressing underlying issues and fostering emotional healing within the relationship. We should not shy away from getting advice and help from those who God can use to bring us into health.

Renewing the Mind

The war between us and the enemy begins in our minds. What we allow our minds to meditate on, dictates our behaviors. We must try to think about what we think about. Romans 12:2 urges believers to "not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind." Overcoming shame requires a shift in perspective and mindset. Couples are encouraged to renew their minds with the truth of God's Word. When we focus on the negative whether it is about ourselves or others, it takes us over. We toss away any good that there is. Allowing this negative thought, to birth a perception that we begin to live out of. God's word is filled with truths. Truth about who we are, how much we are loved and the good that He has placed in us. By replacing negative self-talk with biblical truths, couples can break free from the bondage of shame. This allows them to embrace the freedom found in Christ.

Cultivating Intimacy

Song of Solomon 6:3 celebrates the beauty and intimacy of marital love, affirming that "I am my beloveds, and my beloved is mine". Cultivating intimacy within marriage involves nurturing emotional, spiritual, and physical connection with one another. By taking time to have one on one conversations, praying together and showing affection towards one another, couples can strengthen their bond. By speaking God's truth over one another, we can help each other overcome feelings of shame through the power of unconditional love.

Combat Shame

All in all, combating shame in marriage requires intentional effort, faith, and reliance on the Holy Spirit. By fostering openness, extending forgiveness, prioritizing communication, seeking counsel, renewing the mind, and cultivating intimacy, couples can overcome shame and experience the fullness of God's blessing within their marital relationship. Can you imagine being completely open, hiding NOTHING, from your mate with the confidence that you are safe and loved? This is still God's purpose for marriage. Remember, with God's grace and guidance, there is hope for healing and restoration in every marriage.

To learn more about this subject listen to our podcast titled "Thriving in Our Marriage as we Release Shame in our Lives!"

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