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If your marriage is bad, you more than likely are doing some of the following things. These are some of the most oft-repeated mistakes I have seen in poor marriages. They are in no particular order. If the bad practices characterize your marriage, I have ten tips at the end that can help you have a wonderful marriage. I’ve also added some helpful diagnostic questions to help you and your spouse change.
I know James talked about being quick to listen and slow to speak, but if you want to win, you must have the last word (James 1:19). One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to not listen to your spouse.
What you do while she is talking is formulate what you want to say next. You let her wax on while you’re figuring out how to trump her droning. If she likes to talk a lot a lot and if you’re a little slow on the uptake, you will have more time to come back at her.
Corrupting speech, like criticism and sarcasm, are effective here. This is counter to Paul’s appeal in Ephesians 4:29 about building up the other person, but we’re talking about winning. Don’t let humility or gospel-centered posturing get in the way here.
Sarcasm literally means to cut the flesh. It’s like a meat cutter who cuts away non-valued parts. When you use sarcasm on your spouse, it’s a way to devalue her. No doubt this will put her in her place as you get a leg up on the marriage competition.
This tip is for the more advanced pugilist. It requires a certain amount of mental dexterity to twist up your wife, but if she is truly the weaker vessel and if you’re any kind of man, you should be able to win this battle too.
One of the keys here is to harden your conscience (Hebrews 3:7). Perchance the Spirit of God tries to illuminate you, then you can go into rationalization or excuse mode. This will effectively mute your inner voice (Romans 2:14-15). A little self-deception goes a long way.
A man’s work is outside the home and the woman’s work is inside the home. Make this Scripture-twisting agenda your own by being the comatose husband: Grab the remote and surf the 900+ channels or bury yourself in the Internet.
You can also guilt-trip her by making a few well-placed criticisms about how she keeps the home. The home is your castle and she’s the keeper of it.
Most women want to please their husbands so if you keep the carrot dangled in front of her, she will always be trying hard to please you.
Admitting your mistakes is weakness. Though John wants you to confess your sins (1 John 1:7-10), the strong man never has sins to confess. This will require more self-deception on your part, but if you have any game at all, you can pull this off (Hebrews 4:7).
Justification is your best friend. To justify is to declare yourself not guilty. Now, you know only the Lord can justify you, but we’re talking about winning, right?
If you continually declare yourself not guilty, your wife will soon get the message and give up trying to convince you of anything. You will win, and she will be sufficiently beaten down.
Okay, ladies. Here are a few tips to get the ball rolling on your side. With a little practice, you could be a primary source of discouragement to your husband. BTW, the previous five tips can work with either gender.
Paul talked about how kindness is the ingredient the Lord uses to motivate a person to change (Romans 2:4). To be kind is to build up. It’s a way to motivate by grace. Always looking for evidence of God’s kindness in your husband’s life is what I’m talking about. Don’t do that.
If you withhold encouragement, he will become demoralized. This is what I call the “whupped pup syndrome.” If you’re not kind to him, he will begin to shut down. Your once strong and confident guy will fold like cheap laundry.
The last tip was about withholding something. This tip is about giving him something. Become the dripping faucet Solomon talked about in Proverbs 27:15. Your critical words will be like little sharp daggers in his heart.
Eventually, he will die by a thousand paper cuts. To withhold encouragement while being critical of him is the perfect one-two punch that will end in a knockout every time. You will quickly have him waving the white flag, if not seeking encouragement from someone else.
The key for this tip is to put him on eggshells. This is a counter-intuitive move: The way to win is to be weak. It’s kinda like the Bible (2 Corinthians 4:7). Kinda. But if you pervert the fragile vase Peter talked about (1 Peter 3:7), by being emotional and irrational, he may acquiesce and give up on the marriage.
You will have him so paranoid that he’ll be afraid to say or do anything. Keep him guessing. This is your rope-a-dope move. He’ll never know how you will respond. At that point, you will own him.
Over-scheduling your life will kill any marriage. Your goal is to always be on the go. Be busy during the day and tired at night. This will motivate him to find other things to do. Just pray the “other things” are not another woman or porn.
If you have children, this will be easy for you. Get them signed up into as many extra-curricular activities as possible. Kill marriage time and crank up the van. Worship the sports gods. The key here is to be busy and tired.
Never ever let go of the past. You will not have to worry about his current screw-ups if you keep prancing the past in front of him. If you both had sex before marriage, it’s a done deal. He will never be able to overcome that mistake.
God has wired him to be a leader. The more you remind him of his personal failures the more you will be able to cut out what the Lord has put into him. Eventually, he will lose heart and accept your assessment: he is a loser.
Ten Ways to Bless or Kill Your Marriage
Jesus was a loser according to many people. Even His closest friends were tripped up by His leadership style (Mark 8:32). It got so bad that at the end of His life, they all left Him (Matthew 26:56). They could not accept losing as the way to winning. After all His teaching, they still did not understand the backwardness of the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).
But many who are first will be last, and the last first. – Matthew 19:30
So the last will be first, and the first last.” – Matthew 20:16
They did not want to be last and they did not want to lose. They were like us: winning was all that mattered, even if someone had to cut off a person’s ear (John 18:10). To actually grab a towel and basin of water was beneath them (John 13:1-17).
To give your life in exchange for someone else was a bridge too far for their selfish minds to grasp (John 15:13; Mark 10:45; Ephesians 5:25). They were myopic in their vision of God’s plan for others (Hebrews 12:2).
An ironic twist: If you can’t embrace losing, as in being second in your marriage, you will be the biggest loser of all (Ephesians 5:21). Not only will you go down swinging, but you will take your marriage down with you.
To win at all costs creates an unbiblical competition between two people. This can be at its most acute within the marriage covenant. When a couple becomes competitors, the marriage is lost. When winning or losing are the most important things in that relationship, the marriage is fast-tracking toward dysfunction.
If any of the ten previous tips describe you, I appeal for you to change. You will not win at marriage or any other relationship if you refuse to humble yourself by taking on the counter-intuitive life of Jesus.
This is why I’m leaving you with ten positive tips, plus a few assessment questions to discuss with your spouse. If you can’t discuss these things without getting into an argument, please find help now.
Tip #1 – Seek to Listen, Not Speak
Tip #2 – Uplift With Your Words
Tip #3 – Give Her Space and Grace to Speak
Tip #4 – Your Job Continues After You Arrive Home
Tip #5 – You Are Not Entirely Sanctified
Tip #6 – The Kindness of God Leads to Change
Tip #7 – Contentment Is a Beautiful Jewel
Tip #8 – God Is Your Strength
Tip #9 – Calendar Planning Is a Stewardship Issue
Tip #10 – The Gospel Neutralizes All Sin
Will you please talk to your spouse about these things? If that is not possible, will you appeal to your local church leaders to speak into your marriage? If that is not possible, will you reach out to our supporting member community?