In marriage, or any relationship really, it is easy to extend oneself grace while holding on to a grudge against another. It is easy to hold a double standard for ourselves verses others and it is easy to see the wrong others do while we allow our own messiness to simply slide.
Ugh… who likes talking about this stuff?
Let’s keep going.
Perhaps we learn this as children. Have you ever seen two little kids fight? An argument ensues, an adult steps in and undeniably one child will shout, “But he did…. But she did… first!” Then a new argument ensues about who started it. Even as children we begin to justify our behavior by what others have done to us.
Children do it. Teenagers do it. Adults do it. Can anybody say road rage? True story: one time I accidentally cut off a guy on the road (I was wrong), but then the guy started driving like a maniac and tailgating me
to be a moron to get back at me. If you could ask that guy what his deal was I’m sure he would have said something like, “She cut me off first!” (Luckily for me I have an older brother who you don’t back into a corner and he rolled down his window, leaned half-way out and started screaming and shaking his fists at the car behind us. That car slowed down so fast. Thanks, Jeff!)
Anyway, back to the topic. Can you see this in your marriage, in your relationships? Do you justify bad behavior on your part based on what your spouse, or others around you, have done? As a Christian, how many times have you gone to God in prayer “for” your spouse and used those words, “He started it! She started it!” I have.
One of my favorite books on marriage is the book The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. In the first chapter she gets right to the heart of this subject. She talks about her favorite prayer to pray for her husband being, “Lord, change him.” However, the Lord began to change her heart and this is what she writes
Praying for a husband must begin with praying for his wife. If you have resentment, anger, unforgiveness, or an ungodly attitude, even if there’s good reason for it, you’ll have a difficult time seeing answers to your prayers. But if you can release those feelings to God in total honesty and then move into prayer, there is nothing that can change a marriage more dramatically. Sometimes wives sabotage their own prayers because they don’t pray them from a right heart…Gradually I realized it’s impossible to truly give yourself in prayer for your husband without first examining your own heart. I couldn’t go to God and expect answers to prayer if I harbored unforgiveness, bitterness, or resentment. I couldn’t pray my favorite three-word prayer without knowing in the deepest recesses of my soul that I had to first pray God’s favorite three-word prayer: “Change me, Lord.”
This whole requirement is especially hard when you feel your husband has sinned against you with unkindness, lack of respect, indifference, irresponsibility, infidelity, abandonment, cruelty, or abuse. But God considers the sins of unforgiveness, anger, hatred, self-pity, lovelessness, and revenge to be just as bad as any others. Confess them and ask God to set you free from anything that is not of Him. One of the greatest gifts you can give your husband is your own wholeness.
My challenge for myself and you this week is to make this our prayer. “Change me, Lord.” Let me know if you see some positive results!