"If only I was married to someone else who cares more about me and our marriage, life would be so much better!" ..."It's because of him (or her) that I act the way I do at home. I act like a different person with everyone else!" ..."I know I have my faults, but it's not as bad as what he (she) does --that's why this marriage is such a mess!"
Have you ever voiced one of those statements? Most of us go through times when we think such things. But have you considered... just how easy is it to be married to YOU?
Please prayerfully consider the weaknesses you personally contribute to your marital relationship. Perhaps this could be a personal wake-up call in some way. The following are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Do you speak to your spouse in a way that could be perceived by him or her as dishonoring or belittling? (You may feel justified in speaking this way but the result could be that your spouse will eventually avoid being with you and instead seek to be with others who don't do this.)
- Do you give your full attention when he or she is trying to communicate with you --listening with your eyes, ears, and with your heart? Or are you continually distracted so your spouse could feel that what he/she has to say is unimportant to you?
- Do you have a tendency to lecture or berate him/her, like some parents treat a "naughty" child?
- When you're angry, are you explosive so that he/she could feel assaulted (which could result in him or her shutting down emotionally from truly hearing what you're trying to communicate)?
- Do you treat "outsiders" with more love and consideration than you do your own spouse?
- Do you use cutting humor with your spouse, saying, "I'm just kidding..." and yet he or she doesn't think it's funny? And do you do this publicly so your spouse feels all the more humiliated?
- Does your marriage "partner" complain that you act like you're better than him or her (and deep down, this may be true)? Think about it.
- Do you continually act irritable or are you hypersensitive in your actions with him or her?
- Do you keep bringing up things from the past --things he or she has asked for forgiveness previously? (Please realize, this can result in feelings that it's hopeless that he or she will ever be able to escape past actions with you, no matter what he or she does.)
- Are you living a trustworthy life so your spouse doesn't need to be concerned that you will violate his or her trust? And do you seek ways to show your trustworthiness?
- Do you participate in anything Christ would see as "deeds of darkness" which could bring unhealthiness into your marital partnership? (See Ephesians 5:11)
- Do you seek to be a peacemaker in your home? (See Ephesians 4:3 and Romans 12:18)
- Do you protect your spouse's feelings and dignity in how you speak and interact with him/her both in private AND in public when you're together with others? (See 1 Corinthians 13:7)
- Do you reveal private matters, saying things about your spouse to others that he or she could perceive as hurtful in some way?
- Have you become such a serious person that you rarely laugh and forget to infuse fun times into your marriage --times like you used to have together earlier in your relationship?
- Do you make an effort to show that you value being married to him or her?
- Do you honor his/her communication "style?" If you're a good communicator and your spouse isn't, do you run over him (her) with your words? (This could leave him or her feeling stupid so he or she avoids "communication" times altogether. Just because you're good with words and your spouse isn't, it doesn't mean he/she is wrong and you're right.)
- Are you a negative person to live with? Do you need to make an effort to be more positive in how you interact with your spouse so you don't drag down his/her spirits, as well?
- Do you look for ways to compliment and encourage your spouse (when you're alone together as well as when you're out together with others)?
- Do you receive your spouse's compliments in positive ways so he or she doesn't feel dismissed or discredited when he/she says nice things to you?
- Are you gracious when your spouse messes up in some way, so he or she still feels accepted and loved by you?
- Do you try to make your marriage a better one? Do you show by your actions as well as by your words that you're together in partnership with him or her? So what do you think now? Just how easy are YOU to live with? Do you need to make some adjustments in how you interact in your marriage relationship?
Certainly, your spouse may have many faults that you even point out, as well. But please consider that if you blame your spouse for your wrong actions, you're playing the same "blame game" that Adam did when God confronted him with the wrongdoing. Adam replied, "It's the woman you put here with me --she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate it." Even so, God didn't consider Adam's excuses to be valid. And the same goes for yours (ours). God condemned Adam just as He did Eve. One person's sin doesn't excuse or wipe out the wrongness of what the other does. If you feel convicted, we hope you'll ask the Lord to help you work on your own issues --your own "planks" that need to be removed. As admonished in the scriptures:
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:3-5)
"If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone." (John 8:7)
As you, and as we consider the spouse WE are, may we pray individually: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24). May God help and guide us together in our marriage journeys, Cindy and Steve Wright