I am pretty sure wives will read the title of this post and think “I know a thing or two about being more mature!” 🙂
Today I want to look at a question that came through Facebook recently. Someone wanted to know how to know when you are the more grounded in a relationship.
I had a quick answer “If you’re married, you’ll just know because you will feel the weight!”
But I promised to address the question in a blog post and today I want to take a stab at answering the question.
A few things before we move on
– We live in a world where Christian couples are separating and divorcing for whimsy reasons
But God hates divorce. The heart of every Christian couple should be to make marriage work; doing everything to ensure their marriage does not break up.
And beyond that, ensuring that their marriage thrives.
The Bible permits divorce for three reasons;
1. Adultery. Matthew 5:31-32
2. Abandonment 1 Corinthians 7:15
God allows divorce not as a first option but a last resort, when every effort towards reconciliation has failed.
I am clarifying this because far too many young marriages are ending because couples have failed to grasp the solemnity and seriousness of marriage.
When we say “I do”, we are not just saying yes to the good parts of the person. We are committing to be with this person through the not-so-great. We are committing to fight, to stay and to pray for the relationship.
But nowadays couples chase happiness, instead of godliness. And when the rigors of marriage catch up, they check out. Because apparently anything that does not add to personal happiness, including spouses must be cut off.
We’ve believed the lie that God wants us happy at any cost. But God’s biggest desire for us is to be like Him. Happiness and joy is a product of that relationship.
Last week, I watched our wedding video (after a long time) and I was just struck by our innocence and dreamy expectation. Boy we looked young! And happy and excited. And oh so naive.
I looked at my giddy self that did not know the adventure she had just signed up for. The first year would bring hard stuff. Joblessness. Communication breakdown. Business failure. Wider relationship upheavals. In a few years, a relocation to a country 8,000 miles away.
Everyone gets married with high hopes. And that’s all we have really, hopes. We don’t have guarantees. God does not offer guarantees. He offers His Presence and says ‘whatever comes your way, I am with you’.
Yes, we walk by His word but since we are not Him, we cannot decide how our days will play out. We must trust that He knows best, that He does not lie.
In order to stick through the difficult moments of marriage, you have to start believing that you did not sign up for a comfortable life. God’s ultimate desire for your life is not comfort and happiness. But transformation into His likeness.
If hubby is failing at something, you can’t go back and say “This man lied to me! God you lied to me! This is not what I signed up for!”
You have to get the newly-wed blinkers off your eyes and decide to accept what life brings you. Not in defeated “it is what it is” attitude, but a bold attitude that says “well, I guess you saw this coming God, it’s not a surprise to you. Show me how to deal with it”
– It takes three people to make a relationship work.
The third person is Christ. If your husband has checked out, God hasn’t. He’s rooting for your marriage.
That said, it does take two humans to make a relationship work. I read and hear of too many husbands slacking off and failing in their roles. And my heart breaks because I know at the end of the day, the relationship can’t thrive without a husband’s engagement.
I have written on what to do if you are in a very difficult marriage. Please read it here.
– We must be careful how and when we use the word “abuse”
Not every hurtful, heartbreaking, disappointing marriage situation is abuse.
For example a husband who is emotionally unavailable to his wife is not abusive. Certainly he has a problem and they need to work through it. But a wife cannot cite emotional abuse as a reason to leave the marriage or seek separation.
A husband who does not help with the chores, or one who has temporarily lost his job, or one who is spiritually immature, is not an abusive spouse.
We need to be careful and sober because abuse does happen in marriage. But when we cry wolf all the time, someone might begin to think the wolf does not exist.
So remember; just because a situation is difficult, heartbreaking, selfish, challenging does not mean it’s abusive. Certainly these elements are present in abusive situations but they are also present in some form in a regular growing marriage.
So don’t slap on this big word to elicit sympathy or make your spouse look bad. Think. Pray. Talk to someone to help you sort whats going on.
Finally, here are 4 ways to know when you are the more grounded in your marriage.
Again, these are not labels to pick up and stick on your spouse!
These are for your own discernment. The Bible says that He whoever has been trusted with much, a lot will be required. (Luke 12:48) If God has granted you discernment in your marriage, trust me, that grace will be used up!
God does not make you stronger, so you can “discern” your rights and leave your relationship or grumble and pick at your husband! No. He gives you insight and strength, not to run away, but to do the right thing.
And many times, the right thing includes graciously bearing the weight as the Lord works out the situation.
1. If your spouse routinely refuses to take responsibility for his actions, feelings, habits.
He blames others, his past, God, you, circumstances, anything but himself. We all have moments when we refuse to take personal responsibility but this goes beyond a moment, it’s a lifestyle.
If you are in this situation, you have to be bold, prayed-up and patient. Oh patience! Because just because he’s slacking off as a habit does not mean you have the right to be disrespectful or accusing.
It means leaning harder on God, respectfully confronting issues, praying harder than you confront, inviting trusted help, being strong and ready to go places and do things that make you uncomfortable.
Read these posts
2. If your spouse avoids conflicts/is overly aggressive.
I was the aggressor in our marriage. My husband was the peace-man and he reacted negatively to my verbal aggression by retreating further to himself.
His non-communication wasn’t entirely my fault but my determination to make him talk didn’t help at.all.
If your spouse is overly aggressive, or completely avoids all necessary conflict, you must get on your knees first and pray! Trying to change them does not work (trust me, I know!) Invite God in. And talk to His trusted counsel.
Read these posts
3. If their personal relationship with the Lord is weak or nonexistent.
Men relate to God differently. But that said, we need to be growing in our relationship with the Lord. That means going to church, fellowship with other believers, reading God’s Word, praying. It also means saying no to sin and works of the flesh.
If your spouse is not exhibiting characteristics of a growing Christian, realize you are in their lives for such a time as this! Encourage them but avoid trying to be their holy spirit.
Refuse to join in sin or encourage any of it in your marriage e.g pornography, flirting, laziness that leads to being out of work. Ask God to lead you and show you how to go about it. And invite trusted help.
Read this post – 2 ways to pray for your husband more often
4. If they are not mature as a person.
We are supposed to be super choosy before marriage and super gracious after! Don’t marry someone because they are cute and have a way with words and make your stomach flutter.
Marry someone who is overall mature. Do they pay their bills? Are they kind? How do they act when they are angry? What ticks them off? How do they treat others, especially their family? Does he hold hold a job?
Does he talk about himself a lot? What does he want to do with his life (“make a lot of money” does not count as vision) How do they plan to make it happen?
If you are married to someone who is lacking in many of these areas, you have your work cut out, Sister 🙂 But in all seriousness, at least you know where you stand. One of the most helpful things you can do for your relationship is to befriend more mature believers and couples.
And that’s what I think! Now tell me, what do you think? How have you grown in your marriage? How should a spouse respond when they are the more grounded person in their marriage? Let’s chat in Comments!
- In my book, Blues To Bliss, I take a deep-dive into how to create a strong relationship, especially when your marriage is imbalanced. You will learn how to follow choice, not feelings, how to rely on God and make decisions that say “I still do” in less than ideal situations. Buy a copy of Blues to Bliss here.
- I also want to give a shout out to my friend Beth Steffaniak who does an amazing job helping couples sort out messy situations in marriage. Check out her blog, “Messy Marriage” here.