There may be times when you’re not thrilled with your spouse or your marriage. Do you feel like you’re not communicating well? Do you feel like you’re the only one who really cares enough to make an effort? Or perhaps you feel like the only spark left in your marriage is the kind that comes from friction. While your feelings may be valid, your marriage is worth a little self-examination. Particularly, why are you now viewing your relationship unfavorably? Why are you frustrated? It could be that you have more control over the way you see your marriage than you think.
Your marriage is better than you think when you ignore the busybodies. “A whisperer separates the best of friends” (Prov. 16:28). Who is telling you your marriage isn’t good enough? There are some who seem to enjoy sowing seeds of discontentment. They plant doubts in the minds of those who are married, creating problems where none existed before. Your own parents or siblings can do this by making negative remarks about your marriage. Have they ever questioned the actions of your spouse? Coworkers and friends might make comments like, “I don’t know how you put up with that. I know I wouldn’t!” Some comments are veiled criticisms. “Would you like me to replace that light switch? I know your husband’s not much of a handyman.” Next thing you know, you start noticing that there are a lot of things around the house your husband has neglected to fix. You may have been content before, but now you’re more aware of all the annoying things your spouse does. And you’re embarrassed that someone else had to point it out! Sometimes your friends don’t have to say anything. All they have to do is raise their eyebrows a little and suddenly, you resent your spouse. The truth of the matter is we are easily influenced by the opinions of those around us. Thoughtless remarks that hint that our spouse is inconsiderate, lazy, stingy, or clueless can be taken to heart if we’re not careful. Only listen to things that promote your spouse, even by family members. “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health” (Prov. 12:18). Your wise friends and family members, the ones who are worth listening to, will say things that build up your marriage, not tear it down.
Your marriage is better than you think when you embrace your differences. You may have heard the story about the little girl who said to her younger brother, “Why don’t you ever admit that I’m right?” Her brother answered, “You always think you’re right.” The girl said, “Well, I always AM right.” The boy said, “Ha!,” and walked off, muttering under his breath, “Some day I’m gonna get married to get away from all these arguments.” One of the most popular official reasons for divorce is “irreconcilable differences.” In her book The Challenge of Being a Wife, Ruth Hazelton has a chapter entitled “How to Stay Friends even though Married.” She wrote, “Perhaps the biggest problem of all is the fact that he is a man and she is a woman.” Chances are, you didn’t marry someone exactly like yourself. You think you need to be stricter with the kids and your spouse thinks you need to be more understanding. Your ideal vacation involves a spa hotel and outlet malls, while your spouse would prefer tent camping in the wilderness. You want to wind down listening to the Marriage of Figaro, but your spouse is blaring Led Zeppelin. Sometimes you wonder how on earth you ended up together. You’re so different! You don’t get him, and he certainly doesn’t get you. Dr. Harley, creator of the website “Marriage Builders,” said, “Couples are usually most compatible on the day of their marriage, and things go downhill from there. Why? Prior to the marriage, they make great effort to be compatible. They try to understand each other’s likes and dislikes and then try to accommodate those feelings. They are more willing to change their behavior to become more compatible. Trouble is, once the marriage takes place….mission accomplished! Now they are married, so they can focus on other things—careers, children, etc.” You’ve probably seen a young woman out to impress her man. She grins all the way down the aisle as a beautiful bride. And then she waits to be impressed. Before long she tearfully announces that she is disappointed. Her man does not impress her as a husband. He does not impress her as a father. Did he really change, or did her mindset? Perhaps your marriage seems less than ideal because you’re no longer trying to impress. You’re no longer trying to accommodate. Remember what used to motivate you to put all that effort into being compatible–you WANTED your spouse, differences and all. View those differences once again as attractive traits that complete you.
Your marriage is better than you think when you want to make your spouse happy. Instead of allowing disagreements to make you disagreeable, you can enhance your marriage in such a way that both of you come out on top. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition, or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3,4). God’s advice is for us to have a new mindset, different from the selfish society in which we live. Marriage isn’t about how your spouse can make you happier, it’s about how you can make him/ her happier. Wanting your spouse’s happiness means you don’t have to have the final say in every disagreement. Instead, let God have the final say. Wanting your spouse’s happiness means instead of criticizing, you daily look for ways to verbally admire and appreciate. Wanting your spouse’s happiness means instead of taking him/ her for granted, you’ll cherish each day as a gift from God, thanking Him for the blessing of your marriage. You won’t want your spouse’s happiness if you don’t have a Christ-like mindset. If you are caught up in your own desires and expectations, your selfish heart will be blinded to your spouse’s needs. As always, God knows what is best for us. Trusting Him means putting your spouse’s happiness before your own. You’ll be thrilled when you notice that you end up being the one to find so much more joy in your marriage.
Prayer for Today: By emulating Your Son, Lord, may we show the world what it really means to have “a marriage made in heaven.”
*This article can also be found at http://proverbs14verse1.blogspot.com/2013/12/wise-woman-linkup_17.html