In years of counseling and talking with couples, it’s amazing how many times I’ve listened to a husband or wife be able to immediately point out their spouse’s faults:
- “Our relationship would be great if she would only...”
- “If he would just listen we wouldn’t have these arguments.”
- “Why can’t she be a more forgiving person.”
- “I wish he would care more about my feelings.”
- “She never tries to meet my needs.”
It is a very, very rare occasion when someone will actually say, “I’m the problem, and I need to change.” (But usually, even if someone admits to being the problem, the more common responses are “…but I can’t do anything about it,” or “…but he/she knew I was that way when we got married.”)
While we do need to be attentive to our mate's well-being mentally and physically, the victim mentality and entitlement mentality of our culture has bled into marriages. It is not abnormal for early concepts of marriage to be self-centered, romanticized, and unrealistic. Initially, it is not unusual for someone’s view of marriage to include a spouse who conforms to my wants and needs, my dreams, and my perspective of what would make a happy relationship. But regrettably, too many people never outgrow this mindset. When two individuals enter a marriage selfishly expecting the other to change, both will walk away disappointed.
Ideally, as a couple grows and matures in their relationship with each other—in communication, handling conflict, intimacy, and most significantly spiritually—they will grow more realistic in their expectations of themselves and their mates. Marriage is a holy relationship that forms us more in the image of Christ, as we learn to think selflessly rather than selfishly. Jesus said before you try to pick the speck out of someone else’s eye (i.e.- listing your spouse's faults), you might want to do something about that wooden pole sticking out of your own eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)
So, next time your marriage isn’t measuring up to what you think it ought to be, take a good long look in the mirror and you just might see a speck—or a plank—that you need to take care of first.
The Marriage-Friendly Church is available now and gives you the questions every church needs to be asking. Available at 21st Century Christian or on Amazon.com
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