Lately, God’s been saving my marriage.

Not that my marriage is failing, at-risk, or problematic, but God in His grace, wants to keep it that way.

Several years ago, I began praying about how I talk to my kids. I realized I would do things like spend the only half hour I had with them before school, yelling, correcting, and criticizing them. Of course I’d also give them a hug and send them out the door telling them I loved them (in case that wasn’t obvious amidst all the nagging and rage). After I began praying about this, I got ideas like not discipling them in the morning. I would instead write down anything I felt needed their attention, so after school, when we had more time, I could address their failures as human beings with them. Generally, however, I would toss the list by noon. Once my sanity returned and I wasn’t rushing around, the shoes they left out, glass they forgot to wash, and other minor offenses in the grand scheme of things, didn’t seem so colossal.

Unfortunately, over the years, I’ve not been as prayerful about how I address my husband. I’ve not been as remorseful over my verbal tyranny, critical spirit, and irrational responses to him. I have to some degree, but not to the extent I had with our children.

Until our children left.

Now that two of our kids are at college and the third one drives, we are alone. A lot. We are home together. A lot. I have more time to focus on Chris and to nag, correct, and criticize him, too.

When I noticed I was hyper focusing on my husband’s every move and misstep, I began praying about it and God answered me with four words. Almost every time I’m going to correct Chris for something petty, cleanliness related, or otherwise not worth mentioning (that I can’t keep myself from mentioning), I hear the four words. I hear them right when I need them and just before I verbally vomit things that make my husband feel incompetent, unappreciated and mothered. The four words are simple and direct:

“Leave the man alone.”

Leave the man alone has helped me avoid correcting what doesn’t matter. It’s helped me pause long enough to remember my husband has a successful career where he manages people, finances, deadlines, and more. All without my help. Leave the man alone reminds me my husband is a man and if my nineteen-year-old son resents my smothering, imagine how my fifty-something-year-old husband feels about it.

How has God been saving my marriage? By helping me put my husband before the condition of my house. By showing me how easily pride can seep into my heart. By speaking the truth in love to me in a way I can receive, process, and obey it best.

Simply and directly.