April 19, 2012 by Dwight Bernier
Yesterday, we looked at how we miss the gospel by demanding that our spouse be more like who we want them to be. Today, we’ll look at how we expect our spouses to deal with our shortcomings with grace.
As anyone can tell, marriages aren’t perfect. We say stupid things, do stupid things, and don’t say things that we should – which is stupid. We hold back emotions, touch, affections, words or gifts because “that’s not me”.
We love to judge others on their action, but we want to be judged on our intention. We bring our culture and up-bringing into our marriage and expect our spouse to understand it. My marriage is an example. I am from New England, which is a very straight-forward call-it-as-you-see-it place. I am from a family that often times is exemplary at this type of communication. It isn’t that it’s necessarily wrong or sinful – it’s just how we communicate. My wife is from Indiana, where communication isn’t as straight-forward. Her family isn’t as quickly direct as my family is. Obviously this created issues. I expected Jess to understand my intention in telling her directly what I wanted her to do, and she expected me to know why she didn’t want to talk when conflict was coming.
We expect grace all the time from our spouses – which is not a bad thing to expect. But grace should change us. Grace should change us into the husband or wife that our spouse would like us to be. In Ephesians, Paul gives priority to the gospel in the first three chapters before getting into any commands to change. He knows that void of the gospel, all change will not have sustainability.
The gospel helped me see that the way I communicated with my wife had to change. Honestly, it’s the gospel that makes me wash dishes (washing dishes is one of my least favorite things in the world to do), snuggle in bed after a long day (I like to go right to sleep), and run errands on my day off. It’s the gospel that is working when I do anything to serve my wife in a way that I don’t normally want to. The Spirit is slowly changing my heart. The same Spirit is committed to changing yours as well.
Rather than expecting grace from our spouse, we get to minister grace to our spouse. We get to change in order to love them the way they want to be loved. We get to shift our priorities to do what they want to do. We have the privilege of giving up hobbies to gain a best friend. And rather than demanding our spouses just accept the way we are, we get to ask them how we could serve them by changing areas that are a cause of frustration for them. My wife asked me to grow hair – so I did. I asked my wife to stop breaking off chunks of cheese from the block and cut it instead – so she did. In what little ways can you give up more of yourself to minister more effectively to your spouse?
You won’t ever have the perfect marriage. You won’t ever be the perfect spouse. But you can be a spouse that is continually asking God to make you more like the spouse that the gospel calls us and gives us the power to be. We can forgive, reconcile, serve, bless, bear burdens, forbear, be generous, and change our actions as God changes our heart – all because of the gospel.