Compromise and changes of heart can solve many of the times we are at odds with our spouse. But what about the times when they can’t? I’ve experienced some of these heart-wrenching, terrifying times in my marriage. I want to share what we did that has enabled us to be closer and more committed than ever. Hopefully these can help you save your marriage from unnecessary stress.
My husband and I have been married for 25 years. We have had a lot of disagreements. The vast majority of them we have been able to resolve. I wanted to build a house with a lot of windows. He wanted to build a house with far fewer windows to save money. So we bought a house that was already built.
#1 Stop trying to change him, it won’t help you save your marriage.
It’s hard not to try to get your husband to stop storing the dirty salmon-caked broiler pan in the oven where it creates a Richter-scale stench by the time you discover it. In truth, I’m still trying to stop my husband from doing this!
But when all your explaining, pleading, threats, bargaining, and tears have been for naught with an issue that is vital to you, I advise you to stop trying to change him. Author Michael Wells tells us that when we try to change people, we are taking on the role of God without the power of God. No wonder we are so frustrated and exhausted! We may as well be attempting to part the Red Sea with our own hands. It isn’t that we can’t get our spouses to ever make changes; it’s that when we have reached the limits of our own strength and it still isn’t resolved, that we have to stop. The Bible pities the man who lives with a nagging woman and exhorts us to win an unbelieving husband without a word.
When we relent in our efforts to change our husbands, the disagreement may be resolved. This is true, even when we don’t change our minds. Sometimes in our disagreements we are presenting ourselves as superior. Our position is an unstated attack on our husband’s intelligence, faith, or character. The more we seek to change our husbands in this case, the more stubborn they will become. He may not even care about the issue at odds, but he cares about not being controlled and not having his value called into question. Ceasing efforts to change him can communicate that you love him more than your position in the disagreement. We can encourage this view by continuing to be loving, even though we disagree. If that seems impossible, I get it. Read on.
#2 Believe that God can change him and that will help save your marriage.
I would dearly love to know what Sarah thought of Abraham’s plan to have her lie and say she was his sister. Maybe she agreed because she didn’t want anything to happen to her husband. I doubt once she was in Pharaoh’s harem that she thought it was a great idea. Sarah had many opportunities to disagree with Abraham and not to trust him. Yet the Bible tells us that she submitted to him and called him lord.
In my disagreements with my husband that couldn’t be resolved, I didn’t want to submit. In fact, I thought God had called us in one direction and my husband didn’t agree. Truth be told, I thought I was the one with the direct line to the Almighty. I felt I was trusting God with the faith of Abraham. But while I trusted hearing directly from God, I didn’t trust hearing from Him via my husband. At all.
Yes, I believed God could use and speak through a pagan like Abraham, a fisherman like Peter, and even a murderer like Paul, but not my husband. Yet I thought I was the one with a stronger faith!
The God of Abraham, Peter, and Paul has the power to not only speak to us through our husbands but to change them. We have to believe that or we will continue in vain to try to change our husbands in our own strength. Think about it. If the Lord is essentially siding with us, He will change our husbands’ position with no help from us. I think He would love for us to get out of His way. Sarah reaped the consequences of trying to make God’s will happen with her help. We have to trust God to work, he will be the one to save your marriage.
After we had our fourth child, I dearly wanted another. I talked about it a lot, but we were in a standoff. My husband didn’t want another baby. I did. Finally, I told him I wouldn’t keep bringing it up, but would bring it to the Lord. He laughed and said he was in trouble then. I was true to my word and prayed, letting the discussion drop. Some months later, my husband gave me a Valentine’s card. In it he wrote that my gift was another baby. Had I continued in my efforts to change my husband, we would have had conflict and stress. I would have missed what today is one of the best moments in my marriage — his change of heart.