Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Can My Marriage Change if My Spouse Doesn't Change?

Winston Smith, author and faculty member at the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation addresses a difficult and challenging question.

Many couples never get beyond thinking “if my spouse would only change” we could have a decent marriage. IF one partner or the other comes to the realization that their spouse will not change, more often than not the next thought is can I tolerate this marriage for the rest of my natural life or is it so painful I want out. Far fewer get to this point in their thought process and consider “if I change perhaps my marriage might be better.”

Let’s kick it up a notch. The Bible commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church, to love their wives as they love their own bodies. It doesn’t say love her if she encourages you and supports you. It doesn’t say if your wife is a great lover, friend and confidant that you are to love her. Your love is to be unconditional, therefore if she never changes, never meets your expectations or desires, you are called to love her.

Wives you are commanded to respect your husbands, translated reverences, notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and ]that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly. Just as the husband’s love for his wife is not to be based on her performance so it is with the wife’s obligation to respect her husband. The Bible calls husbands to lead, to protect and to provide for his wife. Whether he does any of these things or not she is to respect him.

Why on earth would a husband continue to love his wife if she continues to nag and criticize him, i.e. show him no respect? Why on earth would a wife continue to respect her husband if he in turn failed to demonstrate love? The answer is found in verse 21 of Ephesians five. We are to demonstrate love and respect out of reverence for Christ. It is because He has loved us unconditionally in spite of the fact that we continue to disappoint, that we continue to sin, and that we continue to seek to do our will instead of his.

Winston’s point is valid. If we as husbands /wives begin to act in a way that is consistent with the Biblical mandate there is a very good chance that our spouse will respond. Just don’t think it will happen over night.

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