I arrived home from work one day and noticed the laundry had been taken out of the dryer and folded. Now this doesn’t happened often, so you can imagine the surprised greeting my husband received from me. My husband and I have our own ways of cleaning and organizing. I tend to be more particular about cleanliness and how our things are organized; whereas my husband is more laid-back about the structure of the home. So when I saw my folded clothes laid out, my initial reaction was to criticize his folding techniques – “that is not how I do it”, “you should do it like this”, or “that doesn’t look right”. Over the years, I have learned a lot about our differences: how we load the dish washer differently, how we eat at a different pace, how we communicate differently. I’ve also learned to appreciate our differences. When I found the laundry folded his way, I had a choice – to criticize his differences or to appreciate them.
Our responsibility as husbands and wives is to wholeheartedly love our spouse.
In his book, Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas says, “We’re not called to judge our spouses – ever; we’re called to love them. We are not called to recount their failures in a Pharisaic game of ‘I’m holier than you’.” A couple in conflict will be quick to judge, magnify each others weaknesses and criticize. In a Christ-centered marriage, we are called to encourage, honor and respect our spouse. Paul told the Ephesians, to “be imitators of God” and “live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2). Just like the Ephesians, a husband and wife are called to mirror God’s love in their marriage.
When we criticize our spouse, we are not demonstrating God’s love. When we pass judgment and gossip, we are devaluing their character and devaluing the marriage. God’s love for us is to be expressed to others (1 John 4:11), more importantly in our marriage. Love can easily get lost due to conflict and be replaced with judgments and criticism. However, identifying our own faults and owning up to the mistakes we make in the marriage rather than placing the magnifying glass on our spouse, can make a great difference. Appreciate that our spouse is different and love them as God loves us.
If you and your partner are having difficulty communicating with one another or you notice that you are fighting often and criticizing one another, we have counselors on staff who can help you bring restoration to your marriage. Schedule an appointment today to begin your journey to that path of a Sacred Marriage.