How many of us enter marriage secretly hoping to change our spouses? We think once the commitment's been made and the ring's in place, we have total command over the other person to reshape him/her into whatever we want.
Hmm . . . Just wondering . . . Is that really our job? Where is it written on the marriage license that once you say "I DO" you then get to say to your mate, "You Can't!" . . . Or "You Shouldn't" or "How Could You?" or "Why Don't You?" or a thousand other strains of, "Shape Up!"
Same song, second verse.
Let's refresh our memories. Whose job is it to change our mates? Whose job is it to change us?
It's God's job! "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus," Paul says in Philippians 1:6. Rather than be focused on the job that only God can do, why not focus on the job YOU CAN do for your mate?
1) Be a minister of good and not evil.
Proverbs 31:12 says that the godly wife does her husband good and not evil all the days of her life. She builds him up with encouraging words. She praises his efforts in front of others. She manages the home and children under his godly direction. She surrenders freely to his love.
2) Focus on the Problem-solver, not the problem.
Praise the Lord for all the things that are right about your mate. Thank Him every day for even the slightest positive trait. Thank God for loving you, even when your spouse does not show love. Take your marital concerns to Him. Wives, let your gentle and quiet spirit win your husband over (I Peter 3:4). Husbands, treat your wives in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7) and lead with tender strength and courage as you follow Christ's model (Ephesians 5:25-30).
3) Ask God to change YOU.
When you begin to focus on the changes God reveals to you, you will be far less likely to be critical of your spouse. You will be too busy maturing into the person God wants you to be. Often as you model change, your spouse follows, but don't enter the process with that goal in mind. Simply allow God to wield his refining tools on your heart. And leave the rest to Him.
3) Find support with a trusted same-sex friend.
Not to air dirty laundry or gripe and complain about your spouse, but to pray and seek advice when needed. This relationship should enhance your love for your spouse, not hinder it. So exercise caution when sharing. Remember, the Lord is your greatest ally. If you haven't taken your spouse to Him first, don't bend your friend's ear just yet.
4) Practice marital contentment.
For the next three weeks, read Philippians 4:4-9 five times in the morning and five times in the evening. Focus on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, attractive, and excellent about your mate. Each day, write down one thing about your mate that you admire.
We can guarantee you will begin to see your mate through God's eyes if you will faithfully practice marital contentment. Or your money back! =) Then your spouse will truly be "a fellow-heir of the grace of life" (I Peter 3:7), not merely your self-appointed project.
While you're here, don't forget to check out the latest Home Improvement tip and the Intimate Meditations for the Married Couple to enhance your sex life.
Let's continue to grow godly marriages together!
Chuck & Eileen