HIS PROBLEMS, HER PROBLEMS: ONE PROBLEM
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
I watched my wife go through three miscarriages. They happened to her. It was her pain, her disappointment, her fear.
They were my miscarriages too. I did not feel and hurt the way she did. I have no idea of the physical, mental, and emotional agony of a miscarriage–at least not the way she does. But I hurt because she was hurting. I hurt because I lost something too. We are one flesh.
When someone murdered my brother in 1997, my wife hurt along with me. She did not hurt the way I did, but she hurt because her husband was hurting. We are not two people, acting independently of each other. We are one body (Hebrews 13:3). When I sin–no matter what it is–my wife has a responsibility in that sin. She would never say,
That’s Rick’s problem. That’s his sin.
No, it’s our sin. She is not guilty of my sin, and she does not repent of my sin, but she has a role to play because she is me and I am her–we are one. When I sin, she runs to my aid by calling me out or caring for me. She becomes my discipler. My confidant. Similar to when a briar cuts an arm, the body comes to the rescue.
Too often when one marriage partner sins, the other acts as though they are not part of the one flesh union. This kind of marriage detachment is the Job’s wife syndrome: the non-sinning spouse gets mad when the other spouse sins (Job 2:9).
Ironically, this means both of them are sinning. When two people respond sinfully to sin, they both are guilty before God and before each other. They both need to repent.
It’s like cursing your arm when it gets cut. That’s weird. That’s your body. You shouldn’t get mad at yourself when something happens to yourself. Are you following my logic? It is biblical insanity to get mad at your spouse when he (she) sins.
When part of the body rejects another part of the body, you have a problem. You better call a doctor or, in this case, if you’re unwilling to repent, you better call your pastor or some other competent helper. You need help. There is something wrong with your body.
Are you a rescuer and restorer or are you a critic and condemner? You’ll never be more tested on this than when your spouse does something that hurts you. Never forget that your spouse is an instrument the LORD uses to mature you.
We see this in Paul’s warning about a person in sin and a person who helps a person in sin. Take a look at these three verses and note how much time he spent talking to the helper (47 words) rather than the person in sin (7 words).
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (Galatians 6:1-3)
If you don’t see your spouse’s problem as your problem, you won’t be an active part of the solution, and your marriage will go to places where it cannot recover. Paul warned the restorers to guard their hearts against this kind of self-deception.
Write down one area in which your spouse is weak, and a realistic plan of how you can be part of God’s restoration team.