Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Secret to Changing Your Spouse

I figured I'd get some one's attention with a title like this one.  So let me quickly put it out on the table, there is no secret.  However, there are some truths that can make all the difference.

After 23 years of marriage, I know that many of us have gone through numerous failed attempts at bringing about a change in our spouses.  We've talked and fought.  We've cried and fought more.  We've issued silent treatment, only to fight some more.  In fact, there's a lot of fighting in marriage.  And not all of it is bad. I feel like I spent more than half my years of marriage fighting to keep it together.  I guess that's been good, but it came with a price.  Doesn't everything?

As I read over a pretty familiar scripture reference the other day, for some reason I gained a new and improved message from it.  To be honest, I've never really been a fan of this scripture.  You know the one that talks about how we as wives must submit to our husbands. Ephesians 5:21-22, 25-27, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as you do to the Lord... Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."  

I always wondered if Paul considered the type of men we women deal with when he wrote it.  And I'd even justify thinking, "Paul wasn't even married."  I mean how can a woman submit to a foolish man?  What's the point of submitting to a man who doesn't really lead effectively?  And so on, I can come up with many legitimate reasons why women don't always have to submit.

Of course, the verse that follows helps me to feel a bit  "off the hook", since it's directed to the men and their responsibilities.  And it always seems much more significant than simply "submitting to your spouse".  I mean the verse calls on men to love us women as Christ loves His church.  That is really big!

And here's where I found the "secret"! In other words, "truth".  As I pondered on this scripture a little longer than usual, I realized that there is a crucial relevance found.  Worded plainly, if the husband wants to see a change in his wife; if he wants to have a more loving and Christ-like wife, he should love her just as Christ loved us.  The secret (truth) is found in loving.  Loving will bring about change.

Furthermore, when we exercise this kind of love, we ultimately are submitting to one another.  We are letting go of our own "agenda" and our own plan and will.  Which brings us back to the first verse.  "Submit to one another," and "wives submit to your husbands".  Submitting, surrendering, yielding, is possible through love.  It is love because when we love, as Christ did, we are indeed trading in our own desires for the sake of the one we love.  And not only are we surrendering our own desires for their sake, but we are considering their best interest as most important.  We deny ourselves for someone else.  That is love.  And when two people are willing to do their significant part, there is a positive change in the marriage.

Now, I know it's easier to simply look at these truths the way I used to.  Simply looking to see what it is your spouse should be doing. Minding and reminding him that he's not doing his part.  But that  isn't enough.  The secret is found in You.  Have you ever seen the movie, "Kung Fu Panda"?  I love the part when the wise tortoise tells him to look in the mirror to find the secret power.  And he finally realizes,  it was inside of him all along.  That is exactly how it is with how we should apply these truths.  It is in us to love one another.  It is in us to surrender our will for his/her sake.  It is in us to change our spouse by loving them as Christ loves us.  It isn't easy, but if God has done it for us, then it must be worth it.

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