21 Dec How We Sabotage Our Marriages- Part 1
In our years as marriage counselors, one of the things that grieves us over and over is how many wonderful, well-meaning couples do things that sabotage their marriages. They can be praying and believing for all the right and best things for their marriage, but their behavior actually works against all that they are praying for.
We talk a lot in our marriage seminars about how to build our marriages, but if we are tearing them down at the same time, it’s a little like bailing water with a leaking bucket. Here are a few of the things that we see that are counterproductive to our marriages:
Refusing to accept apologies without giving a moral.
It is very difficult to apologize, probably to our spouse more than anyone else. When an apology is met with an “it’s about time,” or “that issue is only the tip of the iceberg of all that you’ve done wrong and all the ways that you have hurt me” lecture, a future apology is less likely to occur.
Apologies accepted with genuine warmth and forgiveness, minus the lecture, bring healing and connectedness in the relationship.
We try to play the part of the Holy Spirit in our partner’s life.
We get concerned that maybe they just aren’t listening to God as well as we are. We gather evidence in our minds that surely, he’s not really hearing from God, or he wouldn’t act like that! In our misguided attempts to bring “light and truth” to them (or prove how incredibly wrong he is and how incredibly right I am), we actually can block our partner from hearing God.
We may attempt to play the Holy Spirit directly by telling them “what the Lord is really trying to say to you,” or indirectly by placing books on their bedside, or encouraging a friend to confront them on their behavior. All of these tend to be counterproductive. Instead of helping, our criticism sets up a wall of defensiveness and makes it almost impossible for them to receive any truth. For many people it is hard to stay out of the way. They can’t imagine how God could possibly get through to their spouse! We often tell people, if God created the universe, there’s a good possibility that He can work this out too! But it’s important to know that our “preaching” doesn’t pave the way! All of us respond better to a supportive atmosphere as opposed to a critical one. This is not to say that we are not assertive without partners and confront inappropriate behavior. It is simply the recognition that God is the one who makes the changes and that we have to leave the work to Him.
Minimizing any change and growth that occurs.
Most marriages have what we calla 3-5 year lag time. Our partner can have changed dramatically and not be operating in any of the negative behavior from the past, and everyone sees it except us! We lock our partners into who they used to be and don’t allow for change and growth. We have to let change happen over time.
Next week, we will look at three more things that can sabotage our marriage. If we pay attention to these, we can make sure we are not working against ourselves as we grow together in marriage.
By Brent and Janis Sharpe