How to Keep Your “But” from Hurting Your Marriage

RMlogo How to keep your _but_ from hurting your marriage

Living with a difficult man can be difficult. When the marriage is hard, it’s so easy to lose perspective. This is why it’s essential to see yourself clearly. Fixing marriage problems requires more than just addressing what is wrong with him.

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News Flash: You’re not perfect! Neither am I. It begs the question since we know this about ourselves, why do we make the “I’m not perfect” disclaimer part of our relational conflicts?

It’s an especially easy temptation for a wife living with a difficult, unchanging husband. It goes like this: She identifies, categorizes, and explains all the ways he’s wrong, but then quickly glosses over her own faults as if they’re insignificant and not worth mentioning.

She says “I know I’m not perfect, but” and then goes on with a litany of ways the guy she’s stuck with is so messed up. To say you’re not perfect is the understatement of all understatements. You’re really not giving yourself enough credit there, friend!

There isn’t a single human being on the planet good and without fault (Romans 3:10-12). We are all under the curse of sin and corrupt in every way (Romans 5:19).

Any good that exists in us is because we are image bearers of our good Creator (Genesis 1:26-27). We share in His likeness and so we are capable of showing acts of love, kindness, and compassion to one another.

But that image was marred in Eden and we’ve been pointing an accusatory finger at each other ever since (Genesis 3:12). “Hey, God. You know I’d be an awesome wife if it wasn’t for that jerk of a husband you gave me!”

Mountains to Molehills

Do you talk about your husband’s sin in great detail, but then promptly dismiss your own? Or maybe you minimize your wrongs, as you elevate his (Matthew 7:3-5). When you do this, in essence, you’re saying his sin is greater than yours, and yours isn’t so bad. You think you have an itty, bitty molehill of little ol’ nothings. But him? He has a monstrous mountain of problems!

Even though his sin may cause more serious consequences in your marriage, that doesn’t mean it’s more sinful than what you do. The problem with this kind of thinking is you are comparing yourself against your husband. This is a dangerous and unwise practice to get into (2 Corinthians 10:12).

Your husband is not the standard of measure, God is. When you compare yourself to His perfection and holiness, you will fall immeasurably short (Romans 3:23).

So now, about that molehill…

Get a Heart Exam

If your husband’s been acting like a real butthead, chances are you may have some of these sins lurking in your heart (either quiet and hidden or loud and proud): bitterness/anger, unforgiveness, self-righteousness, self-reliance, gossip, or slander.

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The Anger Spectrum

Ask God to reveal to you the sinful ways you have responded to your husband’s unkindness (Psalm 139:23-24). You will not be able to address his issues effectively until you first deal with your own (Luke 6:42).

Contribute or Cause

You may be thinking, “well if my husband wasn’t the way he was, I wouldn’t be doing these things in the first place.” You have a valid point there but I want to challenge you to go further with that thought.

Although his actions may have been a contributing factor to your sin, it was not the cause of it. These things were already resident in your heart and the circumstances you were placed in just brought them to the forefront.

When we don’t get what we want, it usually causes all kinds of chaos (James 4:1-3). It brings out the ugly in us real fast!

So while you probably have good desires for your marriage, and that’s a good thing, you get all mixed up when you turn those desires into demands that must be met. That’s the part that’s not so good.

Area of Accountability

In the great game of baseball, if I’m a left fielder, I’m responsible for the left portion of the field. If a ball pops out in my area, my job is to catch it and get it to the infield as quickly as possible. I can assist in other parts of the field, but ultimately, my responsibility is to take care of left field.

It would be really stupid for me to try and catch a ball that was headed toward first base. If I attempted to make that play, I would not only be abandoning my position as the left-fielder but would also interfere with the first-base position.

Or let’s say a ball was headed my way, but I decided to close my eyes and pretend I didn’t see it. Or I purposefully tried to avoid it. Or maybe I just missed it altogether because I was too worried about what the guy at first base was doing. That would be completely irresponsible and neglectful of me in my assigned position.

This is similar to what often happens in life. We tend to:

  1. Enlarge our area – Try to fix others or take responsibility for what they do.
  2. Shrink our area – Try to minimize or ignore our responsibility.

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Sphere of Responsibility 


God has assigned you an area of accountability. Yourself! You are accountable to Him for what you do (Romans 14:10-12), say (Matthew 12:36), and think (Romans 2:15-16). You are to be obedient to Him and His ways, regardless of your circumstances.

You are fully liable for your reactions and responses when your husband treats you poorly. Your husband’s sins don’t somehow cancel out yours, giving you a free pass. In other words, his wrongs don’t make yours right.

It’s also wrong for you to cross over into his area of accountability. Things like trying to change your husband, control him, or even control your situation for that matter. Those are things outside of your responsibility. They are things you need to entrust to God (Psalm 56:4).

Think about and identify the areas where you may be shrinking your responsibilities or wrongly expanding them where they don’t belong. It’s possible you could be doing both.

10 Ways You Can Help Him

Loving and serving your husband is in your area of accountability. Since he is caught in sin, he needs your redemptive care (Galatians 6:1-2).

Once you have addressed your own sins and are working through repentance, you can try to help him with his. As his wife, no one is in a better position to do this than you.

Since there are many extenuating circumstances in your marriage that I know nothing about, it would be hard for me to formulate a specific step-by-step guide for you. But here are a few things to consider as you look for ways to care for him:

  1. There will be times you can speak to him directly to address his sin (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 4:15;  Galatians 6:1).
  2. There will be times when saying nothing is the best response (Ecclesiastes 3:7; 1Peter 3:1-2).
  3. There may be occasions for you to take some sort of action (James 4:17).
  4. Consider your timing and choose your spots wisely (Esther 5:1-4).
  5. Prayer is always appropriate and necessary (Jeremiah 33:3; James 1:5).
  6. Rely on the Holy Spirit to guide you in how to respond to the daily occurrences (Romans 8:14; John 16:13).
  7. Emulate the Savior with your words, actions, and attitudes (Ephesians 5:1-2).
  8. Equip yourself in the Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
  9. Find a few mature Christian friends to help you (Galatians 6:2).
  10. If your appeals for him to change are ignored, involve the leaders at your local church (Matthew 18:15-17).

Your call to serve him is a high calling for sure. Please understand if your desire is to honor God above all, even in your difficult marriage, He will strengthen and help you to do the seemingly impossible (Colossians 3:17; Isaiah 40:29; Matthew 19:26).

Wrapping it Up

Actually, I’m happy to know that you know you’re not perfect. You can work with that! It’s a good place to start if you’ll just back up a bit and find out what those things are about yourself.

As God uncovers and exposes these things to you, there’s no need to despair. His grace is big enough to cover your mountain, and your molehill for that matter (2 Corinthians 12:9).

After all, God did not send His Son, to the “good” people, but for the messed up ones (Mark 2:17). He came for the broken, the sick, the imperfect folks of this world. I’m so glad about that. Aren’t you? Let us know how we can help.

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