Question:

Question

Answer:

You wrote that I could rescue my wife and my marriage. Please give me advice on saving my marriage and rescuing my wife.


Many books have been written on this topic and trying to address an individual situation with almost nothing to go on is very difficult. The best that I can offer is some general advice. You should find someone local whom you and your wife trust to give sound advice to help you through this difficult time. "Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established" (Proverbs 15:22).

Too often people in difficulty focus on what other people should have done; yet, it is near impossible to get other people to change without their desire to change. You can encourage them along the right path, but you cannot force a change. Hence, the best starting point is to look at yourself. You see the problem in the relationship and you have a desire for it to improve. "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye" (Matthew 7:1-5).

There are two points to be gained from Jesus' instructions. First, before passing judgment on something that your wife is doing wrong, first stop to consider whether you are doing something similar or contributing to the problem. I'm fascinated how often someone will make a complaint, but fail to see that they are doing the same thing. "She's not interested in the things that I do" Okay, when was the last time you talked to her about her day? You see if you can focus on a problem she has, it is perfectly legitimate to bring that same focus on your own life. Many people are willing to talk about someone else's fault, but they also want the other person to change first before they change. Second, when you find fault in other, expect complaints to come right back at you. It is a defensive mechanism that most people use. The solution is to first fix as many problems as you can in your own life before trying to straighten out someone else. Surprisingly, by the time you get your own life back in line with God's standard, many of the problems that once plagued your relationship will disappear. This is because many problems are the result of feedback. "You did this, so I'm going to do this." Soon problems escalate as each one tries to return tit for tat. The cycle has to be broken and the best person to make the first move is the person who realizes there is a problem.

If you want to save your marriage, fight evil with goodness. "Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:18-21). Be kind to your wife. When she snaps, reply with a favor. It doesn't mean that she gets her every wish, but it means you take control of the situation by steering it toward the way it should be. Change from a defensive strategy of avoiding evil to an offensive one where your "weapon" is kindness. "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails" (I Corinthians 13:4-8).

The most difficult thing to repair is a breach of trust. Trust is the foundation of a loving relationship. It will take time. As the wounds heal, as you work toward the best interest of each other, trust can be rebuilt.

 

March 15, 2005