Over the years, I think I believed a marriage was made better due to both individuals changing and becoming better over time–a slow refiners fire. Although I still believe this would make for a better marriage over time, I’m beginning to realize that the biggest change for my marriage will take place within… me.
Of course there are exceptions. Some marriages are genuinely harmful in nature and degrading to a spouse. But overall, many spouses in a marriage have a daily choice, I know I do in mine. My marriage could be joyous, fulfilling, satisfying, and meaningful, because of who I am and my attitude. Or, my marriage could be full of frustration, annoyance, disappointment, and contention, because of who I am and what I choose to see.
The choice is mine to make. Every single day.
Each day I choose the quality and happiness I will find in my marriage. I can choose to see the flaws of my spouse and hone in on them. I can choose to not get past them and begin to think of ways that he needs to improve or the characteristics he needs to alter. I could even make a plan for his change and try to make the change occur through “subtle” hints, encouragement, or reminding. But, most likely, I would be the one making the marriage worse.
In H. Wallace Goddard’s book, Drawing Heaven into Your Marriage, he says:
“Satan knows that healing human souls is something we humans always do poorly. That is why the devil wants us to be mate-fixing do-it-yourselfers.
This is a keen irony in our dilemma. We cannot fix our partners. We cannot even fix ourselves! But we can make ourselves humble. We can recognize our dependence on God for all that we have and are.
So when we presume to set our partners and our marriage right, we are intruding on the Heavenly prerogative. We are seizing the reins from God. It doesn’t work. We mortals make poor gods.”
I was not made to fix my spouse and tell him how he needs to change and the steps he needs to take. I’m not even the one who needs to tell him what to work on. That is simply not my job, and whenever I assume it, I’ll inevitably do it wrong. Why? I cannot even change myself very effectively without the help of God and His endless and all encompassing atonement.
So, what is my job in the marriage? To simply find joy in what I love about my partner. Celebrate his triumphs, celebrate his good, celebrate what I fell in love with in the beginning and leave the rest to him and God. My job is simply to love, accentuate the positive, and have charity for his weakness, as I hope he’ll have charity for mine.
In the end, my marriage is only as good as my ability to love my spouse. In the end, my marriage is only as good as my ability to see the good. And in the end, the only lasting change I can make takes place in me.
*If you would like to read more thoughts on marriage, feel free to jump on over to my blog about marriage and relationships: Working for my Marriage. It is still in the early stages of being created & designed, but the content is all there! 🙂