Thursday, 31 December 2015 17:21

How to Recover from Disappointments and Absolutes in Marriage

Written by  Rev. Reed DePace
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She couldn’t believe it! Her “happily ever after” man: what happened to him?! He used to be so caring, so attentive. Now he NEVER…!!!
What happened to her?! This princess who made all his dreams come true: what happened to her?! She used to admire him constantly. Now she ALWAYS…!!!

The promises of perpetual marital bliss all but disappear in the day to day disappointments we give to each other in our marriages. And, in moments regretted later on, we snap out those absolute words we know aren’t true. “He NEVER [fill in the blank, sisters],” “She ALWAYS [fill in the blank, brothers],” is not true ALL the time. Looking to our spouse to complete us, something they can’t and aren’t supposed to do, we disappoint each other, use our absolute words, and wound our relationship even more. And if we’re not careful, our disappointments and absolutes may lead to the death of love in divorce.

The gospel offers three steps to recover from our marriage disappointments and absolutes.


First – Repent. It is a simple rule: whenever you find yourself in a difficult situation with your spouse, first look for your own sin. The world and your flesh will argue against this. But Jesus, who is the light (John 1:4-5), convinces us of truth about sin and frees us from it.
Imagine a conversation in which your spouse just said the “wrong thing.” Your temperature rises and your thoughts lock onto crafting word-weapons to humble your spouse into begging your forgiveness. Just then the Spirit keeps Jesus’ promise and reminds you:
How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. (Luke 6:42 ESV)
“But what if I don’t have any sin in the situation?” you may ask. How do you know you haven’t sinned? Scripture tells us that we can lie to ourselves about our thoughts, desires, judgments, and choices so effectively that we won’t catch on (Jeremiah 17:9)! Even if you don’t have sin in the situation, shouldn’t you rely on the Spirit of Truth to show you that (John 15:26; 14:6)? Why not start with the possibility that maybe in this situation you are at least wrongly motivated, if not more? What do you have to lose? If you’re free of sin, the Spirit will encourage you to go to the next step. And if you’re not, the Spirit will show you where your flesh is still trying to assert itself. You and your spouse will only benefit if you first look to your own sin.


Second – Forgive. Now that you’ve repented, of at least the desire to give your spouse “the look,” you’re ready for the next step. This too is a simple step: forgive your spouse of their sin. This isn’t as hard as you might think.
Consider the next scene in your conversation with your spouse. So after you’ve let go your desire to humble them, what do you want to do? Doesn’t the Spirit who graced you to repent also restore your love for your spouse? What is the one thing they most need from you at that moment? Forgiveness (Colossians 3:12-13). Don’t rely on your own strength here. Just as you needed the Spirit’s gracing you with Jesus to repent, so also you need Jesus to enable you to forgive your spouse:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
It is as we consider Jesus, as we look at Him in faith, that we observe all the ways He perfectly obeyed and paid for us. This prompts us to cry out in faith and ask the Spirit, “Give me more of Jesus and His life!” Remember that Jesus forgave in circumstances worse than we will ever face with our spouse. So perfectly did Jesus endure his enemies’ crucifying hatred that when He prayed for their salvation–they were saved (Luke 23:34; Acts 2:23, 36; 3:13-15; 4:4; 6:7)! He offers you this same perfect life to be your resource to forgive your spouse for their MUCH smaller sin against you.
Let’s practice right now. Take a moment and call out to Jesus. Tell Him you need Him and His life to enable you to forgive your spouse.


Third – Faith. Okay, so after repenting and forgiving, you’re now ready to help your spouse with their part of the situation. Free of the irritating speck-sin in your own eye, having forgiven them for the log-sin jutting from their eye, you’re now ready to help them remove it (carefully!). You do this not by following some list of flesh-empowered actions, but solely by the actions of faith. The faith-actions in this situation are as wide and varied as the sins we commit against one another. Yet they all have this as their common denominator: Jesus’ love.
Consider one last time the conversation with your spouse. You’ve repented. You’ve received Jesus’ power to forgive. What is left for you to do for your spouse, still suffering from their own sin? Is it not just to love on them, to see them experience the same repentance and forgiveness you’ve experienced?
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:14)

The Spirit who spoke the light of Jesus into you so you could repent of your sin, the Spirit who led you to rely on Christ’s perfections, this same Spirit will now lead you in showing love for your spouse. And guess what your spouse’s response will be? They too will find Jesus’ presence for repenting, forgiving, and loving.

About those absolutes? Never say “NEVER!” Instead, always say “JESUS!” He will surely answer..


Reverend Reed DePace is the pastor of First Presbyterian Montgomery, The Church @ Chantilly, located near the corner of Vaughn Road and Chantilly Parkway.

Last modified on Thursday, 31 December 2015 17:32
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