July 13, 2015 - Marriage

Marriage counselors, some of them proposing to be Christians, place more importance on assigning blame and assessing penalties than understanding the root of the problem. 

Couple sitting of the couch having problems in their relationship

When there are difficulties in a marriage, one or the other in the couple is assumed to be at fault. This is a dangerous and ill-conceived starting point.

The idea of keeping a scorecard of shortcomings, misbehavior and disappointments is far from scriptural. In group counseling sessions that I have recently reviewed, pet peeves and idiosyncrasies are laid bare for others to view and pass judgment. The result is a polarized room, usually with men on one side and women on the other. That alone should send up warning flares.

According to God’s Word we are not to keep a running tally to use as ammunition against our spouse weekly, daily – or ever. Initially it may seem harmless—even silly to criticize this practice, but the issue is too important to ignore.

It would appear from what we read in the Bible that we are to accept—completely accept the faults of others and even bear one another’s burdens. If that is true of friendship, it is certainly true in marriage. Since marriage is a reflection of Christ’s union with His bride the Church, by His example, it is to be the most forgiving of all human relationships.

Any couple desiring the most stable, intimate, romantic marriage possible must make some tough decisions and take a stand—for their own good. This isn’t popular in a society that revels in poking fun at husband-wife relationships, and applauds criticizing spouses as if it were the gold standard.

The habit of belittling one’s spouse may be difficult for some to change, but it is that it is absolutely necessary to do so. Here are some important beginning steps:

  • Don’t point out his/her faults to others
    • This is especially difficult when those imperfections are blatant, or when others around us are bashing their spouse and we have a better story. But as we refuse to complain to others about our husbands and wives, we gain strength to do better. We are made that way, and it works. Starting is the hardest part.
  • Don’t fume over his/her faults to yourself
    • When we replay imperfections about our spouse over and over in our minds, it begins to take on a life of it’s own. Before long, it has more power over us than we have over it. The result is intolerance—a declared enemy of marriage.
  • Build your spouse up to others
    • There is nothing that will stop a negative pattern faster than reversing it in our own minds. Building up our spouse is fully scriptural, which means it’s God’s will.
      • Ephesians 4:29 states 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.

The most important thing to remember is that God has given us the spouse we have. We are to pour our lives into our husbands and wives, and experience the freedom we begin to enjoy as a result of our obedience. This is not for the faint of heart—it is for those who refuse to settle for less.

Regardless of the philosophy by which we live, we must measure it on God’s scale now—because He will measure it later.

If you want to get out of a bad marriage, you can. But it doesn’t happen by getting rid of your spouse–it happens by getting rid of the bad.