I saved my marriage when I finally gave up trying to be in control of my spouse. We all think that once we get married that we can change our spouse to be what we want them to be, or we may even think they will change on their own, but what faults bother us about the person we’re thinking of marrying will only become bigger faults after the wedding. It’s wrong to think we can change people or control them to be the people we want, and if we think like this before the “I do’s” were going to be in for a big surprise.
After marriage if we dwell on the faults of our spouse it will only make us feel more superior to them, and then we start to justify reasons why we should leave them, or worse why we should have an affair. People think like this – they really do! I have my share of wives and husbands that tell me they think they married the wrong person. Can an attitude get any worse than that? I don’t think so. We must always come back to the long-suffering that God talks about.
What is long-suffering? Are we bound to suffer for the rest of our lives? When we suffer for doing good it means we are being loyal and obedient to God. God does not want us to feel that we need to control the person we married to be happy – we should endure our marriage through suffering by doing what is right, and God said He will reward us. We’re never alone in our suffering because God is always with us in Spirit. When times are tough we can always go to Him for our contentment and peace of mind.
“It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil”
I saved my marriage because God showed me that I needed to take the focus off my spouse and onto my self. I realized I was the one who needed to change. And it wasn’t that my spouse didn’t need to change too, but it was not my job to change my spouse. The minute I discovered it was not my job to change or control my spouse a big burden fell away from me.
The first aspect about myself that God helped me to change was in my attitude and how I perceived my marriage should be rather than recognizing how I could change it as my responsibility in the marriage. You see, we have responsibilities that need special care in our marriage. Problems develop because couples are complaining about each other’s responsibilities rather than taking care of their own and then pretty soon both have lost their zest for the marriage. But a marriage needs zest – it needs godly zest from both spouses!
For one thing when we have an attitude that tells us that it’s our spouses responsibility to make us happy, and at all costs, it becomes skewed thinking. It is not our spouse’s responsibility to make sure we’re happy; it is our own responsibility to do what we need to do to make ourselves happy. Now, don’t get me wrong, we are to be responsible husbands and wives, and marriage thrives on the “give and take” philosophy of marriage, but we cannot expect that our spouse is going to cater to our every whim. We should be there for our spouse and fill their needs in appropriate and godly ways – this is what marriage is all about.
This is where long-suffering comes in. Sometimes expectations become demands and when demands don’t get met disappointment sets in and we hate our marriage. This calls for an attitude adjustment. Most couples don’t know this, but it is not divorce that will make everything all better but staying married to your first spouse, working through the problems and learning from them. When couples resolve to work on the marriage it involves long-suffering. It involves determination and compromise, and it involves commitment, and doing the right thing, even if husband and wife are suffering for it.
What does God reward couples with who decide to stay in their marriage and persevere? He rewards them with strength and faith in Him and with personal character and spiritual resolve, both of which benefit the marriage considerably. We are given wisdom to understand what we cannot change in others and the courage to change what we can.
Consider it a pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:1-5