It’s been a few weeks since we looked at the first part of this post, but here are a few more things to consider as you evaluate yourself as a spouse. As we look at these questions, an important thing to remember is that we cannot be a good spouse without the grace and work of the Holy Spirit in our life. He is the only one who can equip us to be the spouse God calls us to be.
1. Do you humbly listen when your spouse brings up an offense you’ve done or do you immediately shift blame and make excuses?
This is so hard! When the one closest to you brings up something that you have done wrong or an attitude that’s ungodly the quick response is to fire back at them. To get defensive and point out their faults. To show how you’re not as bad as they’re claiming you are. Responding in these ways, however, isn’t helpful. It likely took courage and thought for your spouse to bring up your offense and that’s an act of love. Love doesn’t let us sit in our sin, but confronts it so we can confess it and become more like Jesus.
So the next time you hear a rebuke or criticism from your spouse, pause for a minute. Try to listen and understand what they’re saying. Ask questions. See if there is truth in their words, things that you need to change. And if you can’t see it right then, maybe take some time to ponder and pray about it before you respond. The Lord may convict you of the confronted sin later.
This also brings up the need to confronting sin in your marriage. Guess what…you married a sinner and you are one yourself. There will be times when you are sinned against. And when that happens, you need to pray and possibly confront that sin. Ignoring sinful patterns in your marriage won’t lead to a great place. So you need to kindly confront. Sometimes not confronting is actually selfish because you’re putting your comfort and peace above the spiritual needs of your spouse. It’s really not loving to let your spouse continue in consistent sin that distances them from their Heavenly Father.
2. Are you repenting of sin toward your spouse and asking them for forgiveness where you’ve wronged them?
Have you ever been helping someone look for something only to realize they found it and never told you so you’ve still been looking? Maybe sin in marriage is similar when we don’t admit it to our spouses. Sometimes God convicts you of sin toward your spouse or family without them even knowing how He’s moving to purify you. When that happens, do you hide what the Lord is showing you, or are you willing to openly confess those things as sin to your spouse or kids? When your spouse confronts you, do you ever say I’m sorry- I was wrong? When we wrong our families, it is right for us to tell them how sorry we are and to admit that sin to them and to ask them to forgive us. Ultimately our forgiveness comes from God, but we also need to be sure our earthly relationships are modeling that as well.
3. Do you encourage your spouse to be godly?
Most of us share a lot with our spouse. Does that include spiritual things in your house? Do you talk about what you’re learning from reading your Bible? Do you share the things you’re praying about? Do you pray together? Do you go to church together? If these things are important to you personally, they should be naturally finding their way into family conversations as well. After church on Sunday, ask what impacted them from the sermon. Ask what they’re reading and learning about it their quiet time. Ask your spouse how you can pray for them specifically. These things bring us closer as we relate to each other on a spiritual level.
4. Do you praying for them regularly?
Prayer is the work in any situation. We have full access through Jesus to the very throne room of the God of the universe. Why would we fail to take advantage of this relationship by failing to pray for our spouse? Is there a sin that you feel like your spouse keeps doing against you? Take it to the Lord in prayer. Is there something you just love about your spouse? Praise God for that attribute in them. Are you working with them to make a big family decision? Ask God for unity and wisdom for you both. Are they down? Pray for encouragement. Are they arrogant? Pray for humility. There are countless things we can and should be praying about for our spouse.
5. Are you fulfilling your role in the relationship?
There are God-given roles in a marriage from Ephesians 5. The male is called to serve, love and lead and the female is to respect and submit to her husband. Are you doing that job well? Husband, do you love even when your wife is difficult or demanding? Do you serve even when you’re tired? Do you listen to your spouse and lead well with her feelings and concerns in mind? Do you lead or are you passive in decision making?Wife, do you give your opinions about decisions in a respectful way? When you disagree with your husband, do you insist that he does things your way? Do you speak in a tone or with words that give grace or judgment? Are you playing your part in your marriage or are you trying to do what your spouse was called to do?
6. Do you value your relationship with your spouse over your relationship with your kids?
A final thing to consider in your marriage, if you have kids, is how you prioritize your spouse and children. Your spouse should be the one who has the most input and sway. It is your primary relationship on earth, second only to your relationship with God. Do you spend time regularly listening to how they’re doing? Do you let the kids interrupt that time or do you try to protect it and ask them to wait? Do you leave the kids to spend time alone with your spouse, whether it’s just a date or a weekend away? Are you united with your spouse in the way you discipline your children? Do you undercut them in front of your kids? Whose needs take priority in your day, your spouse’s or your kids’?
Marriage is a picture of how Jesus loves His bride, the church. May God give us grace as we seek to glorify Him by showing the world what a godly marriage should look like.