The Power of Understanding

Understanding is extremely important when it comes to a healthy successful marriage.  When you are willing to understand each other, new vision and hope will emerge.  You will immediately become energized to work on your marriage, even if it is rife with trouble.  Here is a story that illustrates the power understanding has on our willingness to stick to a difficult relationship.

Once there was a boy who lived with his mother and grandfather.  His grandfather was not really an elderly man, but he was confined to a wheelchair and had very little use of his arms.  His face was badly scarred, and he had a difficult time swallowing his food.

Every day the little boy was assigned the task of going into his grandfather’s room and feeding him lunch.  This the little boy did faithfully, but not joyously.  It was quite a mess to feed Grandfather.

As the boy grew into adolescence, he became weary of his responsibility.  One day he stormed into the kitchen and announced that he had had enough.  He told his mo

ther, “From now on, you can feed Grandfather.”

Very patiently his mother turned from her chores, motioned for her son to sit down, and said, “You are a young man now.  It is time you know the whole truth about your grandfather.”  She continued, “Grandfather has not always been confined to a wheelchair.  In fact, he used to be quite an athlete. When you were a baby, however, there was an accident.”

The boy leaned forward in his chair as his mother began to cry.

She said, “There was a fire.  Your father was working in the basement, and he thought you were upstairs with me.  I thought he was downstairs with you.  We both rushed out of the house.  Your grandfather found you, wrapped you in a wet blanket, and made a made a mad dash through the flames.  He brought you safely to your father and me.

“He was rushed to the emergency room suffering from second-and third-degree burns as well as smoke inhalation.  The reason he is the way he is today is because of what he suffered the day he saved your life.”

By this time the boy had tears in his eyes as well.  He never knew; his grandfather never told him. And with no conscious effort on his part, his attitude changed.  With no further complaints, he picked up his grandfather’s lunch tray and took it to his room.

Once you understand why your husband acts that way, or why your wife thinks that way, it will change how you feel about him or her, though nothing has really changed.  Compassion will come with an accompanying perseverance—all because you now understand.  I cannot overstate the importance of understanding.

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36 Responses to “The Power of Understanding”

  1. Linda R-Schmidt says:

    Wow both my eyes have tears, understanding compassion, sometimes we run out of these. We can seek refreshing in ways the Lord guides us. Finding your website, know humor is a powerful healer, we laugh at ourselves, & we aren’t alone. Mahalo, Happy New Year
    aloha Linda in Hawaii

  2. Alyssa says:

    always love your blogs Pastor Mark. Thank you for sharing. I have heard this story before and am glad to hear it again. Thanks for the continued encouragement and laughs.

  3. Susan says:

    Hi: This story really touched me. My husband suffers from clinical depression. He is doing very well right now, but I never know when things will go down. We are heavily involved in a ministry called Retrouvaille. It is our lifeline. I love the story about the grandfather. It puts into perspective some of my story, that until I understood what was wrong with my husband, why he acted the way he did sometimes, it changed how I felt about him that I really did love him with all my heart and that I needed him as much as he needed me. ANyway, with your permission I would like to share the story of the grandfather in a workshop we have to give on depression in october at our International Council meeting. Please let me know if this will be ok.

  4. Lynn says:

    sometimes things are forgotten in the relationship & you help remind us..very inspiring as is your laugh your way book .. thank you.

  5. Susy says:

    I love to read these stories that encourage us to step out of our own little world and view things from our loved ones perspective. This has really encouraged me to see my husband’s actions from a different point of view. I love your view on marriage and we really enjoy all your DVD’s. We hope to see you in Texas soon!!!!

  6. Shelia says:

    I actually stumbled across something about Mark Gungor and his book about laughing your way to a better marriage via the internet and about he and Mrs. Gungor being on the Oprah Winfrey’s show. I felt like I had fallen into a Gold Mine, and you would have to know my story to understand why I made this reference as I did. To put a long story short, my husband and I have been separated since mid January of this year 2012 which seems like a lifetime. I have been praying and fasting for restoration to which my husband made a verbal agreement but has not followed through. Since that time we are communicating very little to none at all because he has moved in with a woman who took him in once we let the house go. They have gotten physically involved. I believe my marriage can be restored with some of the very approaches that Mark has revealed and believe that we were one of those couples that simply took something said way too deep and it led us to separate. Now things are worst. Due to the cirmcumstances, we are unable to make it to the nearest location, North Carolina, for a conference. Yet, I am an avid reader and will make use of my daily e-mail information from Mark. God Bless and I am asking for prayer. Thanks for being an instrument of God’s peace, joy, and healing.

    • Elise says:

      Dear Sheila,
      I’m so glad that you found the Mark Gungor ministry. It has helped me so much and while I still struggle in my marraige, reading has also helped me to get new perspectives and have hope. I really hope and pray that God will work in your husband’s heart and mind to restore his relationship and commitment to you. I’m sure God wants you to be happy.

      Elise Tape’

  7. Annie says:

    This story mirrors a conversation my husband and I had tonight! My love language is Acts of Service and I come from the country of Perfect. He is neither of these. Also, his childhood scared him from things that I find very important; cleaning. I had a Mary/Martha dream last night after our heated conversation regarding cleaning/comments. He opened up to me tonight. From the early age of 5, my husband was forced to help his mom clean apartments etc. She also comes from the land of Perfect. As a kid, he would actually get smacked around for not cleaning good enough! What I used to take personally, I now understand that he is giving me his best. He feels he can’t meet my standards and I now know my comments have reminded him of an abusive past. Starting today, we understand! I will be happy with his best & will not make negative comments of how he helps out.

  8. Ruth says:

    I’ve been going through some very tough times with my marriage & this is just what I needed to hear.
    Sometimes its hard because one gets caught up with their emotions, but when understanding someone else’s it gives a whole new perspective in life. A big thank you for sharing this wisdom.

  9. Lisa says:

    When your husband is secretly unfaithful to you off and on for most of your 20+ years of marriage (while outwardly being Mr. Perfect Christian) while lusting after just about every female in a low neckline, when he has his next wife picked out (for years) “in case something happens to you”, when he finally “repents” and says he is a new man and makes all kinds of promises to be faithful, when you find out his infidelity brought about the demise of his first two marraiges, even though he had told a totally different story, when you catch him telling bold face lies to your face while he insists he is telling the truth (even though you have beyond-a-shadow of-a-doubt proof otherwise), when you show him the evidence of his guilt and he then starts making up ridiculous lies to explain it away, when you catch him in sneaky deceptions……….what is there to understand that is going to make you want to stay with this man or entrust your heart to him? Nothing that I can think of.

    • Vanessa Taylor says:

      Forgiveness is for you more than the other person…is there anyone out there that doesn’t need it…I don’t think so. We need to forgive because God forgave us and gave his son’s life for us. You pray for this man you married and promised to love for better or worse, you only have to say Dear Lord make him the man you want him to be. Give him to the Lord to worry about. Do what you are told in the bible, love unconditionally…do not judge…God will help you, you don’t have to do it on your own will…God will take care of the rest. Lean on Him and trust only in Him. You will find your heart healing and God’s love coming through you when yours isn’t strong enough to do it. Our pastor said once that we tend to take sin personally…it helped me somehow to remember that. I’ll pray for you…God loves you…never forget. He will heal your heart if you give him all the pieces. :)

      • Liza says:

        Dear Vanessa
        I see you are so good in Christianese – the easy language quoting from Scripture and offering very easy and cheap advice. You have no idea how Lisa feels. I admit that I do not know either, yet I can just think of all the lonely evenings, the tormenting thoughts of rejection, the hope defied, the despair, the isolation and feelings of unworthiness. The battle to try again and again, only to be disappointed again and again too. The attempts to be a good mom, set a Christian example, smile, and all the time hurting so much. Probably even praying to just die, then to repent of your own wicked thoughts, begging God to let you live for the sake of your children and because you want to do the right thing, yet not being capable of seeing anything worth living for apart from your responsibilities and for your children and those who need you. Yes, of course she must forgive, but that is not the issue here. To forgive does not mean that all of a sudden everything is fine and you can cope with all the pain and stress. She needs support, people who will not ask her to deny all her emotions and put up a nice Christian show. I am afraid that the church and community at large are failing to give the needed support. Those who speak Christianese so fluently do not seem to have much empathy – that is why it is so easy to offer such quick solutions. Lisa, I think you should divorce this guy. He has completely and totally given himself over to adultery, deceit, etc. If Paul was still living,he would probably advise that the he be given over to Satan, SO THAT HE MIGHT SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES AND MAY PERHAPS REPENT AND BE SAVED.Forgive, yes, but get out of this situation. Allow God to save you from further destruction and heal you. You cannot keep on drinking poison and hope to be redeemed. Get out and get healed. Forgiveness is part of the healing process, but this guy is wilfully destroying you and your family. In short, he is an agent of Satan. Don’t allow him to influence you any more. I am glad that Vanessa is praying for you. May you find true deliverance and healing. And I hope – but give it time – that your husband will also repent and turn to the Lord. But I do not think he will as long as you are there for him. It is better for him to experience the results of his actions here on earth than to burn in hell for eternity. You will need a lot of strength. May God comfort you. Read Is. 40-66. You are precious in God’s eyes. He loves you with a perfect love. You will be better able to serve Him and come to terms with your situation once you are out of it and can see clearly what is happening, without being affected so. And I know you probably love him still. My heart goes out to you, but I really think tough love is all that will help now – step aside so God may deal with him. Be strong, it may break your heart once again, but get this torturing behind you once and for all.

  10. Fern says:

    I read your newletters eagerly as my marriage is in a very bad way and I fear for the end being near. I think I have tried hard to save it but then sometimes I wonder if I have tried hard enough. The toughest part is I feel like I am fighting for it alone as my husband seens no problem with our marriage. We barely even greet each on a daily basis!! I would love to attend a seminar but I live in Botswana and I only saw your one in South Africa this year to late. I try to understand him everyday but its very hard as he never speaks out about anything!

  11. Judy says:

    Lisa, from one who was married 19 years to a man similar to what you’ve described, I understand what you’re saying. Regardless of what one has been through, infidelity, lies and deceit in the marriage cannot be tolerated. I don’t anyone who doesn’t know that this kind of behavior is wrong so I’m guessing the advice in this blog cannot possibly be geared toward something of this nature. On more than one occassion, my husband had kept from me an apartment he had leased out, had numerous affairs and lived with 1 of his girlfriends for over a year while I and our 5 children continued on with life, hoping he’d return. After 19 years of marriage, he had an affair with my brother’s wife and now the 2 of them are married. No amount of understanding can help me see him or his behavior differently. Forgiveness is one thing, continuing to allow someone to trample on you and especially your children is quite another. Lisa, my heart goes out to you and others in the same situation. I personally know the hurt and devestation but Jehovah-Rapha, my God, my healer has enabled forgiveness, mercy and has healed the brokeness of my family. He will do the same for you.

  12. Carol says:

    A thought that comes to mind as I read this story is the comparison I heard one day about heaven and hell. It goes like this:
    Picture hell with a very large banquet table full of an amazing array of foods, however, all of it’s inhabitants have boards taped onto their arms and they were unable to bend their arms at the elbow. Consequently, they could put the food on their forks, but were unable to get those tasty morsels to their mouth, becauuse they could not bend their elbows. They tried desperately to somehow get that food to their mouths, but they just couldn’t make it happen. Such a dilima…..and the results were that no one ate the food.
    Now the same picture takes place in heaven. Everything is the same. Beautiful banquet table, arms with boards taped at the elbow, everyone is hungry, and they are also unable to get the food to their mouths. Guess what, they began to feed each other, seek each others needs and all was good.
    Remember now that in hell everyone could only think about themselves, while in heaven they were thinking about each other.
    This story has a very good application to marriage. It is not all about “you”.

  13. Ellen says:

    I love the website. I have a comment about the story. The boy should help his grandfather, not because the grandfather saved his life but because he loves him and it is the right thing to do!!

    I do agree though about understanding. Because of understanding my husbands childhood it helped me understand the something I was doing, unintentionally hurt him. Once he told me I could see how he would think that I was being hurtful.

  14. John says:

    I thank God that he has given you not only a passion but the vision and strength to edify marriages. What a tremendous work to be involved with. Thank you for seeking to enrich our marriages through humor insight and common sense!

  15. Henry Solti says:

    I read your article on “Understanding”. My wife and I were in the edge of divorce. She suggested we attend a weekend with a group called Retrouvaille. The Retrouvaille program teaches and encourages couples to engage in an activity called Dialogue, which is specifically designed so that each partner can express matters so that the other clearly understands the mind and emotions of the other partner.

    We are now in a situation where we completely understand where the other is coming from, but we completely oppose the other’s position/interests. If my needs are to be met, it will result in her doing things she is opposed to doing. If her needs are to be met, it will result in me doing things I have totally no interest in doing.

    We have attempted compromise. It works for a short time, and we end up right back where we are.

    If I fully understand what my spouse wants out of life, and I intentionally say,through words or actions, “Who cares what you want, what you want is not going to happen”, how does our understanding of each other help our marriage? It would seem to me that by each of us understanding what the other is all about, and each of us making a cognitive choice that what the other desires will never happen, is not going to assist a marriage at all.

  16. Jane says:

    Thanks so much for your website and the articles. I have little money; but I try to feed my spirit. Understanding has made so many things easier in my life.

  17. Cindy (me) says:

    Does this pertain to an alcoholic that I’ve been living with and married for 24 yrs ?cause I honestly have shut down and haven’t spoken to him 2 1/2 weeks, except to discuss treatment for our daughter who is on heroin. Does God really expect me to continue to live will someone who is unwilling to to get sober ? When does the abuse stop for me ? I’ll stay if its Gods will.

  18. Colleen Shields says:

    What a poignant reminder of how important it is to have compassion for someone, as well as, how to not judge them before getting all the facts.

  19. Bobby Goodman says:

    Thank you for your help with learning how to be a better husband. I also appreciate your help with teaching others to live fore the Lord and not just for themselves.

  20. buli bevu says:

    Mh! What a lesson to learn from the story above. I’ve been trying to understand some of my hubby’s way of doing things for the past 30yrs. Maybe this will help me. Thanx.

  21. Enzio says:

    YOu are really the best of America: short, simple and EXTREMELY relevant to us folks who have been married over two decades and go through the valleys and canyons.

    My observation after 22 years: it boils down to RESPECT, COMPASSION AND RESPONSIBILITY. Keep this troika in mind when charioteering around the bend and losing one or the other wheel!

    Mark, keep up your fabulously common-sensical, inspirational and yes, Christian, work

    If you have any Hong Kong speaking engagements, please let me know.

    Enzio (Hong Kong)

  22. Anne says:

    I agree that being able to see things from your spouse perspective assists you to manage your responses but I have found that learning to look beyond myself and serve; be the person Jesus wants me to be, rather than waiting till he changes, is very helpful. A racing car driver once said, “if you look at the wall you will hit it. Look where you want to go and your car will follow your eyes” I can choose to be who I am meant to be and live to my Christ given heart, refusing to add to the trouble (as best i can)by looking at Jesus and serving him. This attitude shift gives me strength to go on being faithful in my Christian walk and the fallout of that is better attitude in my marriage. Focus on Christ and serve Him.

  23. Vigdis says:

    Throughout all my childhood and adolescence I had trouble consentrating in school and being consistent and staying on task. When I got married my husband started asking me why I had so much difficulty being consistent and getting a task done, I had no clue what to answer. I realized later that I had ADD. I realized now why everything had been so difficult. Implementing methods and schedules it helps me stay on task until I finish. Life and marriage became so much better after understanding myself, not just my husband.

  24. Silvana says:

    I love how Pastor Mark is so great helping marriages and families. I hope we can have him very close to us to talk to him every time we need it. For all the couples that are having difficulties or a very rough time in their marriages or are even divorce but contemplating the idea to go back together again I really recommend Retrouvaille retreat for couples; it is a fantastic program. Please give yourself a try .. I know that with that, with God and with pastor Mark’s books, videos and his conferences your marriage will be change absolutely and with the time pass it is going to be heal and restore.
    Thank you Pastor Mark for your wonderful books and DVD ‘s I have them all and their are music to my ears and a bing opening to my eyes !!!!

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