The driving thought in the Bible when it comes to marriage is “the two will become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31 quoting Genesis 2:24) In a practical, day-to-day sense, this means that our goal is to treat each other with the same grace, care and attention we give ourselves.
A Critical Eye
Although it may seem that you are your own worst critic, in reality, you have learned to love and accept yourself with all your strengths and inconsistencies. You take care of yourself, forgive yourself and give yourself the benefit of the doubt each and every week of your life.
What you don’t do is spend enormous amounts of time and energy cataloging your deficiencies, questioning your motives and verbally pointing out your faults. And yet, it is common for spouses to fall into the habit of negatively evaluating one another’s behaviors and motives. I hear the following “evaluations” on a regular basis:
- “He is so selfish. When is he going to start thinking about the family as much as he thinks about himself?”
- “She is so controlling. It doesn’t matter what I say; it always goes her way.”
- “Is it too hard for him to pick up after himself? I am his wife, not his maid.”
- “If she didn’t want to have sex, why did she get married? She should have just stayed single.”
- “She agreed to take care of the inside of the house but it is never clean, never organized and seems so out of control.”
- “He doesn’t do anything to help with the house. He says his only job is to make money. Is it too much to ask that he help out a little?”
Sadly, none of these pleas made any difference. None of the situations got better. Nobody’s heart softened and none of the relationships improved. Instead, the love and connection they were looking for was replaced by suspicion and disappointment.
The person you married is every bit as imperfect as you are. They have great strengths, but they also have nagging weaknesses. Some area of your spouse’s life is bound to be deficient, underdeveloped and disappointing. Logic dictates they should do better, but reality proves otherwise, just like with you. You know logically you should think, act and live better, but reality forces you to live with your inconsistencies.
The Bible presents a healthy perspective on this perfectly imperfect scenario. Rather than negatively evaluating one another, we are called to elevate one another. “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33) A husband who loves his wife will focus on her strengths, declare her value and cherish her presence. A wife who respects her husband will admire his abilities, serve him willingly and sacrifice to help him succeed. When both partners do this, the focus shifts from inevitable disappointments to the incredible potential of the relationship.
Elevate One Another
Instead of evaluating one another, try elevating your spouse by practicing these habits:
- Thank God that your spouse is different than you (Genesis 2:22) and that you have more potential as a team than you do as individuals.
- Make a list of your partner’s strengths (especially the areas of life where your spouse is better than you). Compliment your spouse each week with one of these strengths.
- Choose a weakness to intentionally overlook and remind yourself you are just as imperfect as your spouse.
You will never appreciate your lover more by evaluating his or her weaknesses. You can, however, discover a love that grows each and every year if you are willing to elevate one another in your hearts.
You may also be interested in 3 Steps For Accepting Your Partner’s Perfect Imperfection