Being a supportive spouse

 

I think one of the most special things of a married relationship is being accepted by your spouse.  This acceptance comes with the acknowledgement that you are two different people, coming together in Holy Matrimony, to enrich and complement each other and to impact the world positively, as a couple. Life, therefore, should be better together.

If the husband is a social butterfly, it is quite possible that the wife may be more of a quiet, reserved personality.  While the husband may be outgoing and love crowds, the wife may prefer to socialize among family and close friends.  What is important here is understanding your spouse, and this begins before marriage, during courtship.  You are different, and you are meant to be different, to enrich the lives of each other.

I am amazed how God brings people together, but sad to say, many times we don’t see the joint purpose God wants to fulfill in our lives, we see ourselves.  We often seek to act as single men and women when we are married; we have certainly missed “THE POINT”.  If you are both committed however to a better marriage, getting the point and staying on-point, is still possible.

It is true that even as married couples God needs to work through us individually, but more so, he needs to work through us as a couple, as a single unit.  He has a reason for bringing us together.  Sadly, we often hinder that plan by not embracing the uniqueness of our spouse; their personalities, their gifts, their natural strengths and weaknesses.  I believe, if God must use us as a couple, we must be open to the fact that our compatibility exists because of our differences and that we must be allowed to grow individually, so that the “us” unit could grow as well.

What are some of the things that hinders us as husbands and wives from really accepting each other and encouraging each other to explore our gifts and talents and to work on our weaknesses?   How is it that God has brought us together and we are meant to be a suitable help to our spouses and yet we struggle with issues for so long and our marriages become stagnant.  We struggle with issues when God has already provided a built-in capacity as strengths, gifts and special abilities, in our spouse.  Perhaps we are too critical of our spouses’ weaknesses that we cannot see their inner beauty.      

The question again is why?  What has gone wrong or is going wrong in the marriage where both spouses feel they are not supported, by the other, in their quest to carry out God’s will for their lives?

Here are some possible reasons

  1. Pride
  2. Unforgiveness
  3. Jealousy….Really?
  4. Selfishness
  5. An unthankful, complaining spirit
  6. Lack of faith

Before we get into each of these possible reasons, let us look at a few verses from the Book of Books, the Holy Bible:

Genesis 2: 22-24

“And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman and brought her unto the man.  And Adam said, this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.  Therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

Isn’t this a wonderful picture of God’s intention for man and woman?   Think about how it all started; woman, taken out of Man.  She is called “woman” by man himself and she is described by him as “bone of my bones” and “flesh of my flesh” Oh what a lovely picture.   It represents a sweet bond, a sweet relationship, and you get the picture of “I got your back and you got my back”.  We are one or rather we are designed to be one.  We leave, and we cleave to each other.  This certainly does not describe separation, division, fighting against each other and instead of lifting and building each other up, cutting each other down.  These verses present a picture of a beautiful relationship where the man and the woman are designed to exist together as ONE and to enjoy each other.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-11

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their Labour.  For if they fall, the one will lift-up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.  Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?”

Certainly, marriage is an ideal picture of how “two can be better than one.”

I John 4:12 says “No man hath seen God at any time.  If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.”

I use this verse because I think, love really starts at home; it begins with how we treat each other, how we accept each other and how we seek to edify each other. 

Pride:

If you or your spouse are not willing to admit that help is needed or there is a weak area in your life, that needs to be worked on, you would never be able to move on, to grow and to experience victory.  Many times, our spouses can be our greatest counsellor; we are expected to be friends, right? Sadly, we hold on to our pride at times, pretending to be who we are not, even in marriages where vulnerability is necessary for intimacy and growing together.  

Real men and women admit to their flaws, this is what we see in the Bible; David, Moses, the Disciples, Paul.  They could only embrace God’s will for their lives after realizing that they were so full of sin, so desperately in need of his help and his life-transforming power.   I have realized that our spouses know us so well that they are able to alert, or warn us, when it is needed the most.  God also allows us to feel and to sense certain things about our spouse that they may not readily see. As spouses, we grow to understand the weaknesses and strengths of each other and in many cases bear within ourselves the solution to problems.

If we understand the purpose of our spouse in our lives, we would not erect a wall of pride or become defensive when we are corrected or constructively criticized.   A loving sensitive spouse would want to criticize in love for the benefit of his/her spouse; there is absolutely nothing to be defensive about.

Being puffed up would not help our relationship to flourish, instead we would be disarming our marriage from a God-given protective zone, discouraging your spouse to be the first to pull you aside and lovingly show you the dangers lurking outside your window. Don’t let your spouse truly describe you as “Stubborn.”

Unforgiveness:

I think the marriage relationship is one of the most vulnerable relationships.  You are most intimate, it is a serious commitment and it demands daily sacrificing, selflessness and compromising.  It also requires complete trust and loyalty.

Let’s imagine a scenario where both husband and wife decide to start a bank account together, with each of them saving an agreed amount monthly ($400).   They both have access to the accounts, meaning they can withdraw when necessary but there are conditions for doing so which includes; Both must agree to withdraw for the purpose identified.  In this Scenario the wife goes against that agreement and at a time when the account has a balance of $10,000 dollars, she withdraws five thousand on her own to lend to a close friend.  The husband finds out after reviewing the monthly statements and the explanation provided by the wife, when asked, was that she intended to tell him about it but, completely forgot.  Clearly, in this scenario, the wife is wrong; I hope you agree with me on that.  However, considerable damage is done here as the husband is completely shocked that she would do such a thing, especially after they agreed to the conditions set.  By each other holding their end they were able to save up to $10,000. 

 There was no discussion, no agreement on this withdrawal.   I could imagine he would be disappointed and hurt.  Bear in mind, that the wife has never done anything of this sort before.  Even though the wife shows genuine remorse, it can be difficult for him to trust her again and he can be very reluctant to start similar projects that require this level of commitment and trust.  It is a wedge placed within this marriage and if the husband cannot forgive and move on, moving forward will be difficult.  This is just one example, we can seek to brainstorm many other circumstances in a marriage that can seriously erode the issue of trust.  One’s inability or unwillingness to forgive, would certainly rock the boat and place serious doubt in the minds of both persons about the future of their marriage.   It is possible however!

Jealousy:

Could I be so jealous of my husband that I silently wishes that he fails at something he loves.  Jealousy is devilish, destructive and ugly; no part of it is healthy.  There is no point being jealous of anyone, as we are not meant to be the same, to have the same personality, qualities, characteristics, gifts and talents.  It can be rather stressful trying to keep up a jealous attitude.   It happens however, you and I have experienced those biting moments of jealousy, and we understand that it must never be tolerated.  The question is, do we ever get jealous of our spouses?  We do, but we shouldn’t.  While we are meant to be one, you may be able to sing beautifully, and all your spouse could do is whistle for his supper; I truly think that is ok.  You may be able to draw a group of persons the moment you start to speak, and your spouse may have to work twice as hard to get their attention.  The point here is that we are meant to be different and to embrace each other’s differences, this is how beauty in life is created.   God created colour and variety intentionally; it was no mistake.   The next time he flashes his bright smile and the room explodes and you feel the jealousy coming on, talk to yourself and remind you to stay purpose focused.   Remind yourself that this is just one of the things that makes him special and makes him yours.  Smile on darling, smile on, you enrich our lives when you do.

Selfishness:

There is absolutely no room in your sweet marriage for selfishness.    Well, yes, you do need to be alone at times, you need to have your own quiet time, go visit your girlfriends/boyfriends etc.   These activities are all healthy.   We can be selfish however, when we neglect the feelings and needs of our spouse, seeking to satisfy our needs and our feelings only.  It is an insensitive, limited view of life, that hinders you from truly honouring and serving your spouse.  Your decisions are determined based on what is in it for you than what is in it for you and your spouse.   Love is certainly not selfish; the word of God says so. 

Every decision must be made in the light of God’s word and his will for your life as a couple and if your decisions and activities in life is destroying that focus, then it is destroying your marriage and not building it up.  Your spouse should agree with whatever you are pursuing personally and whatever you are pursuing personally should not only benefit you but benefit your marriage.

 An unthankful complaining spirit:

Are you always complaining about what your Spouse did not do, cannot do or who he/she is not?  The question we need to ask ourselves is, “Does it really help to complain?” “Do things improve when we do?”   I would suggest meaningful discussions instead, choosing the right time to express your concerns, suggestions for improvement etc. This must be done respectfully and in genuine love.   Let’s replace nagging and complaining with constructive criticisms, supported by recommending alternative ways to doing things.  Be sure to appreciate your spouse when they do things right, when you see them making the effort to make you happy or just to get an important task accomplished. Don’t be a miserable complainer, it is not a supportive gesture and would only drive you apart.  A complaining, unthankful attitude towards your husband would hinder you from growing more intimate, where you both feel supported and uplifted by each other.

Lack of faith:

I really believe that our lack of faith could hinder us from supporting our spouses all the way.   If we doubt instead of exercising faith, we would be an obstacle to our spouse’s growth.   It can be challenging having a spouse who doubts all the time; when a possibility or opportunity arises, you may be faced with a lot of “buts” or “what if’s”.  We allow ourselves to see all the hindrances when we push aside faith and live in doubt, and many times we do not understand how depressing it is for our spouses. Whether it is to start a new project, or to take a simple step of obedience to the Holy Spirit, we need faith and our spouses need to have faith with us. 

I love that the Bible says that “without faith it is impossible to please God”, Hebrews 11:6.   If we really believe that God is who he says he is, why do we doubt in his ability to direct our every step?

Let’s be sure to guard our attitude towards God’s word and don’t be a hindrance by exercising doubt and not faith.

I do hope this short article opens your eyes to some of the things you may be doing that may be negatively affecting your spouse and your marriage.

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