The Purpose of Marriage-Part 2
Updated: Jul 1
What if marriage was created to also teach us to respect and honor of others?
We must never be naive enough to think of marriage as a safe harbor from the fall...The deepest struggles of life will occur in the most primary relationship affected by the fall: marriage. Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III
As a culture we have become obsessed with being respected. And yet it is found that we rarely consider our obligation to respect others. So when this core desire isn't met, we become tempted to lapse into behavior that is a self-defeating response. And the exact opposite occurs. Because we can't work on ourselves so that respect is earned (#respectisearned ), we end up working to tear down our spouse to prove that our spouse's lack of respect is meaningless. Then we become caught in a vicious and self-defeating cycle that is extremely hard to break. Listen up! Respect begets respect. Disrespect begets disrespect.
Marriage calls us to focus our efforts on giving respect. That means we are called to focus our efforts on giving respect, even when we know our partner's deepest character flaws. Fighting does nothing to gain respect. We are also encouraged in this partnership to stretch ourselves. Can we find out how to learn to respect this person that we are so familiar with? Giving respect is an obligation, not a favor; it is an act of maturity, and a profound understanding of grace.
Many of the problems in marriages aren't specific to the particular couple; they are specific to the differences between men and women. It's been found that these problems arise because we don't take the time needed to get to know our spouse well enough to understand how different they are from us. Be careful not to think that if you only had a different spouse; things would be different. You will probably just find yourself in a different marriage with the same issues and then some.
The difficulty in honoring our spouses #honoringyourspouse is that it calls us to develop attitudes and actions that are more than just saying that we "won't dishonor our spouse". Honoring our spouse isn't passive, it's active. How is this done? We actively honor our spouse by demonstrating our respect by complementing them in public; affirming their gifts, abilities, and accomplishments; and expressing our appreciation for all that they do. Honor not expressed is not honor.
Sadly, we find ourselves in our marriages adding up the pluses and minuses of each person's personality traits. The problem is that we spend too much time on our pluses and their minuses. We are deluded by our own self-righteousness. Instead of focusing on how our spouse could improve, we should be looking toward ourselves and how we need to change. There's a saying, "Don't criticize a man unless you have walked a mile in their shoes". This quote is more about empathy; being capable of identifying and understanding someone else's feelings, without experiencing them for yourself; the ability to experience the world from their perspective; and to feel what it feels like to be that person.
I recommend making time each day to focus on your spouse. Find out what their day was like? Be curious, What was the hardest part of their day? Is there something they constantly fear? Are there parts of their day that are monotonous? Why is their best friend, their best friend? If they could travel to any one place; where would they go and why? Take the time to identify their difficulties rather than their shortcomings.
The other thing I recommend is cultivating gratitude #cultivategratitude . Be careful not to take for granted the routine things your spouse does to help the family run smoothly. When you have dinner in someone's home you would never leave without thanking them for providing the meal. Why would you not give your spouse the same thanks you would give someone else? Respect is never earned amid expectations. Respect is conceived with expressions of gratitude. We get to choose whether we dwell on expectations or gratitude. The more gratitude you express, the more gratitude you will find.
So, take my challenge and for 1 week, concentrate on getting to know your spouse #gettoknowyourspouse on a more personal level. Ask some of the above questions and more importantly make up some questions of your own. Find out what makes your spouse tick. Complement them on how good they look and tell them how much you appreciate them. Change in your relationship starts with you.