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“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
A spouse can be so hurt and angry because of the ongoing disappointments that they do not see their sinful contributions to the marriage. Those are the sad situations where the person shuts out God’s Spirit from the marriage (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19). The mounting disappointment is overwhelming, and the spouses are more about grenade launching than redemptive communication (Ephesians 4:29).
For the wife, it will almost always be in the area of respect. Nothing will cut the heart out of a husband like a wife’s disrespecting attitude or tongue. God has wired her husband to lead, but because of sin, his temptation is to lead poorly, especially in their marriage. I am sorry it is this way, but too often, that is the case. It would benefit them if he had his wife’s assistance to help him to lead well.
For the husband, it is mostly about love and protection. Nothing will cut the heart out of a wife like a lazy husband in his love and protective care. If he does not love his wife well, he contributes to her steady distancing from the marriage (Ephesians 5:28-29). Though she is responsible for choosing to distance herself, he is accountable for his sinful contribution to her actions.
The husbands and the wife’s answers are to think about each other the way Christ thinks about them. Christ loves imperfect people, and He is always busy, working on their behalf, seeking to redeem and transform them into His likeness. Is your spouse imperfect? Does that surprise you? It should not. The testimony of Scripture is far less flattering regarding the human condition. Your spouse deserves to go to hell.
Nothing speaks to our worthlessness like the outcome for all those who have not been born a second time (John 3:7; Romans 3:12; Revelation 20:15). The good news is how the gospel penetrates anyone’s nonsense and gives them something undeserved. The gospel offers spouses empowering favor (James 3:6). What they get is not based upon their behaviors (Isaiah 64:6), but upon the grace, mercy, and love of God (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).
Imitating Christ’s redemptive behavior is how you are to live with your spouse (1 Corinthians 11:1). Christ does not put things in your way to demotivate you to live for His glory. He is not annoying or aggravating. He draws you by His love. He overcomes your nonsense by keeping His eye on a better prize (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 3:14). Christ is a transformer whose purpose is to transform your life. Even being despised and rejected by others did not deter Him from His restorative goals (Isaiah 53:3; Galatians 6:1-2).
Think about how what you should be doing to your spouse is what Christ does for you.