Power Source to Change in Your Marriage

Power Source to Change - AdobeStock_97478414Do you feel powerless sometimes to make meaningful change in your marriage relationship? Have you found yourself looking at your spouse sometimes thinking, “Things would be better if only he would _____” or “If only she would _____” (you fill in the blanks)? Yes, us too! We expect our spouse to change so things could be better. But too often we forget to tap into the ultimate power source for change in the equation.

Marriage Ministry leaders Bob and Yvonne Turnbull are quite candid in talking about that type of marital issue. Here’s what they have to say (beginning with a “familiar” argument they had):

The Power Source for Change

“I can’t believe you said such a stupid thing! That was really dumb!” Yvonne informed Bob while they were sitting in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport between flights.

Whoa! thought Bob! Where did that come from? He was jolted by her sudden outburst, since in the past several years both had veered away from taking cheap, mouthy shots at each other.

Bob didn’t say anything. He just gave Yvonne a neutral glance for a second and then went back to the newspaper he was reading. At that moment, that was the best thing he could have done, because if he had fired back with one of his old-style smart remarks, they would have wasted a lot of energy in a worthless argument. If that had occurred, the Holy Spirit would not have been allowed to bring a needed change in Yvonne.

When Bob did not respond, Yvonne picked up a magazine and tried to read it, all the while justifying in her mind the way she had spoken to Bob. Well, he needed to hear what I think is the truth. If he does not like it is his problem, not mine. (It is amusing what we say to ourselves when we are wrong in our actions or words.)

Have you ever found yourself reading something that does not stick in your brain, so you reread it over and over and over, hoping it’ll stick? That was happening to Yvonne. She was reading the same paragraph repeatedly, trying to focus on it, while at the same time replaying that last scene with Bob in her mind to justify that she was right.

Our Power Source at Work

While she was “reading,” Bob, who was sitting right next to her with a newspaper in his face, was quietly praying, “Lord, take her down!” And He was! The Holy Spirit was starting the process of convicting Yvonne of her error—her sin. Therefore, she could not get past the first paragraph of her reading.

It is through the conviction of sin that a positive change can occur in a person, which of course, can impact a marriage relationship. This process of change is promised to anyone who has for-real turned control of his or her life over to Jesus Christ. When that happens, God’s Spirit—the Holy Spirit—takes residence in our lives and gives us the power to live the lives God desires us to live (see Ephesians 1:19-20). The way that transformation takes place is through conviction of sin — seeing that we are wrong.

But admitting she was wrong was not easy for Yvonne. Yvonne said, “We recall a similar situation when our grandson Jackson was five-years-old and he needed to apologize for something he had done to his younger sister, Hannah. He stood straight-up with a stone-jaw and arms tightly crossed over his chest, and he wasn’t about to budge from his non-apologetic stance, even though he was told he had to admit he was wrong. At times I realize I handle life the same way as my grandson did that time. What got Jackson to admit he was wrong was when little Hannah reached out and gave him a hug. That melted him.”

Our Holy Spirit Working in Us

What melted Yvonne’s heart was the Holy Spirit working on her by bringing a Scripture verse to her mind. It was a verse she had recently memorized, Ephesians 4:29 — “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

It was as though the Holy Spirit was saying, “Excuse me, Yvonne. A few moments ago, weren’t you just putting your husband down by telling him he was dumb? That is what is meant by ‘unwholesome words.’ What would benefit your marriage more is to speak words that would build Bob up, not belittle him.”

Yvonne continues, “When those thoughts happen, I have a choice: I can respond by admitting I was wrong and asking God’s forgiveness, or I can just shrug it off, saying, ‘It wasn’t really that bad.’ What I’ve found in my life is that when I shrug it off on a regular basis, I eventually become insensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Once that happens, I stop growing and changing.

This has had a major impact on my marriage, because I started to rationalize that it was Bob who needed to change, not me. Thus, everything got out of order. It was only when I decided to stop fooling myself and admit I was wrong that our marriage would grow, and stop being hindered by hurt feelings and resentment.”

So, there in the airport Yvonne took a deep breath, put down the magazine she couldn’t read anyway, turned to Bob and said humbly, “Honey, I was wrong in speaking to you the way I did. Please forgive me.” Bob gave her a big hug, smiled and said, “Hon, thank you. Sure, I forgive you.”

Bob went back to reading the newspaper and Yvonne went back to reading her magazine, but this time what she was reading made sense!

Plugging Into God’s Power Source

Our desire for you as we share this story about an incident in our lives is this: If you have not been seeing changes in your marriage, you can begin right now by making a commitment daily to surrender your will to God’s will. You may want to say this prayer:

“Lord, You are in charge of my life today. Direct my thoughts, control my words and guide my actions, that they may bring glory to You. Please do whatever you need to do to change me today. I pray this in the Name of Jesus. Amen.”


We thank God that Bob and Yvonne Turnbull (from Turnbullministries.org) allowed us to share their testimony to help us to get a better picture in our minds that the Holy Spirit is the ultimate power source for change in our marriage. We too often forget that! Starting today … with a new beginning … may that change!

In closing please prayerfully consider these promptings:


“Picture bringing Jesus into your home to live with you. He’ll be more than a houseguest; He’ll become a permanent addition to your marriage—the third member of your relationship. When Jesus is involved, three isn’t a crowd. Three is just right! And when you have Jesus Christ with you, you also have God the Father and the Holy Spirit. It’s a package deal! God is waiting for you to invite Him into your home.” (David Clarke)

And then make sure, from this day forward, you:

“Rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance to control your emotional reactions and learn how to respond peacefully to stressful situations.” (Whitney Hopler)

The following is our prayer, and we encourage you to make it yours too (spoken through the words of Wynter Pitt):

“May we all be people who ask God to empty us. …May we be people who ask God for more of His power and presence, so our marriages will be better for it. And may we be people who wash our marriages with the compassion and kindness that comes only from the power of the Holy Spirit.”

And to that we say, Amen!

Cindy and Steve Wright


To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:

7 Essentials - Marriage book


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