I talk with men and women around the country nearly every day that are struggling in their marriages. And I see many things that I’ve personally experienced. The most common factor is simply this: judgment. They judge their spouse as wrong and blame the other for their unhappiness. I used to do the same thing, and sometimes still catch myself there, thankfully less frequently than before. When who someone is becomes so wrapped up in someone else’s opinion, contentment doesn’t exist in the relationship unless the other person is behaving a certain way.
“I’ve tried everything. I’ve begged, I’ve pleaded, I’ve cried, I’ve tried harder…she still won’t show love to me. I don’t know what else to do.”
“I’ve tried everything. I’ve threatened, I’ve lectured, I’ve told him how he hurts me, I’ve walked out, I’ve yelled, I’ve demanded equal treatment, I’ve done it all…he still isn’t loving. I don’t know what else to do.”
“I’ve tried everything. I’ve shut up completely, I’ve done everything he’s asked me to do, and I don’t do anything without asking him about it. I ask his opinion about everything, he still doesn’t act like he loves me. I don’t know what to do.”
“It’s not worth doing anything anymore. He’s completely incompetent. Pathetic. He never does anything I ask him to do, he doesn’t participate in anything around the house, and he certainly isn’t worth my respect. I hate my marriage. He doesn’t even act like he wants to be here. There’s nothing left to do…”
Oh, and there’s more.
Many many more.
But one thing they all have in common is this: These approaches don’t “work.”
Whether it is marriage, parenting, or interacting with our own parents, as long as our identity is wrapped up in another person’s behavior towards us or their opinion of us, we will be unhappy and lack peace and joy.
The absolute best thing we can do for our marriages is humbly be who God made US to be, and share the journey with this person who is simply trying to figure out the same.
The worst things we can do for our marriage is be doormats, controllers, victims, or arguing pride-filled know-it-alls who deem others as “the problem.”
I know there is real hope ahead for a person, (and then, subsequently, the marriage) when she or he says these humble, magic words and means them: “God is teaching me so much during this time about how selfish I am and how much I need Him – not that my spouse is perfect, but I really need to work on my relationship with God and be less focused on my spouse’s behavior, and just work on the things I can control, which is my own behavior and thoughts.”
When we look in the mirror, we need to realize that without Jesus Christ, God cannot even look at us, we’re so sinful. To think otherwise is the sin of pride…
And it’s not because He’s angry at us, but rather because He is HOLY. The other thing we need to remember is how much He treasures us, how much He loves us…
Proverbs 25 today is filled with gobs of great advice for working with others, and being in relationship with difficult people. Dare you to click the link and read it – right now J . In case you are one of those people blaming your spouse for the issues in your marriage, I leave you with these nuggets from today:
Proverbs 25:6 Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among great men,
Proverbs 25:27 It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to seek one’s own honor.
Proverbs 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.
The “man who lacks self-control” isn’t addressing the potential damage done by words held back, glassware not thrown, faces not hit, but rather the improper and sinful thoughts that deem our spouse as the problem and at fault in the first place, when it is our own unhealthy habits of thinking that are creating much of the problem in the first place. We aren’t any better than him or her. And God loves us equally. Until we see that, embrace it, and ask for help to think righteously, our marriage is going to stay stuck in the quagmire of misery, holding us and those around us captive to the enemy’s ploys. Sometimes this unhealthy behavior looks like an attempt at control, emotional separation, or a lack of assertiveness that can create fulfilling relationships for those around us.
Instead, try things God’s way:
Philippians 4:8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you. 10 How grateful I am, and how I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but for a while you didn’t have the chance to help me. 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.
Because righteous thinking results in contentment and the Lord’s strength. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says Be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus.
Double-dog-dare you to confess to Him you can’t do this one on your own, asking for the help He’s eager to provide!
Triple-dog-dare you to share with us or others today!
Thankful to be on the journey with you!