Marriage Missions International

Love Accepts Many Imperfections – Marriage Message #241

Is there some small habit your spouse does that really irritates you? And then to make matters worse when you tell them how much it bothers you, they still do it? It can really be frustrating sometimes to live with someone under those conditions!

Well, if you find yourself in that kind of situation, here’s something Dr Gary Chapman wrote that might help you in some way. It’s from his book The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted (an updated version of his book, Toward a Growing Marriage). Gary writes:

1 Peter 4:8 reads, ‘Love covers a multitude of sins” (NASB). If I could paraphrase the verse, I would say, ‘Love accepts many imperfections.’ Love does not demand perfection from one’s mate. There are some things that your mate either cannot or will not change. These I am calling imperfections. They may not be moral in nature but are simply things that you do not like. May I illustrate from my own marriage?

“We had been married several years before I realized that my wife was a ‘drawer opener,’ but not a ‘drawer closer.’ I do not know if I had been blinded to that fact the first three or four years or if it was a new behavior pattern for her, but at any rate it irritated me greatly.

“I did what I thought was the ‘adult’ thing to do. I confronted her with my displeasure in the matter and asked for change. The next week, I observed carefully each time I entered our apartment, but to my dismay there was no change. Each time I saw an open drawer, I fumed. Sometimes I exploded. My basic pattern was to vacillate between days of verbal explosion and days of quiet smoldering, but all the while I was furious.

“After a couple of months, I decided to use my educational expertise. I would give her a visual demonstration, along with my lecture. I went home and took everything out of the top bathroom drawer, removed the drawer, and showed her the little wheel on the bottom and how it fit into the track, and explained what a marvelous invention that was. This time, I knew that she understood how the drawer worked and how serious I was about the matter.

“The next week, I eagerly anticipated change. But no change came! For several weeks I seethed inside every time I saw an open drawer.

“Then one day, I came home to discover that our eighteen month old daughter had fallen and cut the corner of her eye on the edge of an open drawer. Karolyn had taken her to the hospital. There she had gone through the ordeal of watching the surgeon stitch up that open wound and wondering if it would leave a scar or impair vision.

“She told me the whole story, and I contained my emotions while I listened. I was proud of myself. I did not even mention the open drawer, but on the inside I was saying, I bet she’ll close those drawers now! I knew this would be the clincher. She had to change now! But she did not.

“After another week, the thought crossed my mind, ‘I don’t believe she will ever change!’ I sat down to analyze my alternatives. I wrote them down: (1) I could leave her! (2) I could be miserable every time I looked at an open drawer from now until the time I die or she dies, or (3) I could accept her as a ‘drawer opener’ and take for myself the task of closing drawers.

“As I analyzed these alternatives, I ruled out number one right away. As I looked at number two, I realized that if I were going to be miserable every time I saw an open drawer from now until I die, I would spend a great deal of my life in misery. I reasoned that the best of my alternatives was number three: accept this as one of her imperfections.

“I made my decision and went home to announce it. ‘Karolyn,’ I said, ‘you know the thing about the drawers?’ ‘Gary, please don’t bring that up again,’ she replied. ‘No,’ I said, ‘I have the answer. From now on, you don’t have to worry about it. You don’t ever have to close another drawer. I’m going to accept that as one of my jobs. Our drawer problem is over!’

“From that day to this, open drawers have never bothered me. I feel no emotion, no hostility. I simply close them. That is my job. When I get home tonight, I can guarantee the open drawers will be waiting for me. I shall close them, and all will be well.

“What am I suggesting by this illustration? That in marriage you will discover things that you do not like about your mate. It may be the way he hangs towels, squeezes toothpaste, or installs the toilet paper.

“The first course of action is to request change. (If you can change, why not do so? It’s a small matter to make your partner happy.) However, I can assure you that there are some things that your mate either cannot or will not change. This is the point at which ‘love accepts many imperfections.’ You decide where the point of acceptance will come.

“Some of you have had running battles for 20 years over things as simple as open drawers. Could this be the time to call a cease-fire and make a list of things that you will accept as imperfections? I do not want to discourage you, but your mate will never be perfect. He or she will never do everything that you desire. Your best alternative is the acceptance of love!”

We all need to remember there was only One who was and is perfect. The rest of us need grace, forgiveness and understanding. We can assure you that whatever “imperfection” your spouse has that irritates you today won’t matter much in eternity. (Please know that we’re not talking about abusive or adulterous behavior here, but rather irritations. We have other topics offered on this web site that explore those dangerous issues better than we will be able to do in this Marriage Message.)

We can also assure you that you have “imperfections” that irritates your spouse, as well. It’s just the nature of living together as husband and wife. Try to work together on irritating each other the least that is possible (to the best of your ability and to the degree that your spouse will join you), and release that which you can’t seem to change (to some degree or the other). It will drive you crazy, otherwise.

In our almost 41 years of marriage, we sure have dealt with (and are dealing with) many irritations and “imperfections” we see in each other. But we also work hard NOT to let them drive us crazy. It’s just not worth the problems it can cause in our relationship. It’s a matter of knowing when to make a point, which will help in some way, and when to drop it, because all it will do is heap additional problems onto the matter.

Lord, please help us to be dispensers of grace, rather than vessels of criticism —holding onto that which won’t matter 100 years from now. Help us to know when we are to “speak the truth in love” and when we just need to release it and let you work within the situation, and within us, as your children. And may we never lose sight of what is truly important as it pertains to Your kingdom work both outside of our home and within, and the ways in which we should participate.

Cindy and Steve Wright

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13 Responses to “Love Accepts Many Imperfections – Marriage Message #241”
  1. skwright says:

    Someone from Kenya wrote the following to us about this Marriage Message: Indeed this is true. I am newly married and of course I discovered things in my mate that I do not like. Learning to accept each other as imperfect and choosing to go the extra mile not to dwell on the imperfections has made settling down into marriage life easier. We have also learned to laugh things off and reduce the seriousness that we would otherwise equate with a situation thus making it easier to handle for both of us. Thank you for your rich insights.

  2. Ann says:

    (USA) My spouse have a problem with drinking and when he drinks there comes unwise and foolish mistakes that affects the family. I constantly look after him to make sure he’s not driving or buying alcohol. I feel that I’m his mother not his wife. I have talk to him but he feels that he doesn’t have a problem. Do I just accept it and put it in God’s hand? Please Help!!!

  3. Patti says:

    (USA)  My husband has been hurting me over and over again for almost 4 years now. It’s really hard for me to bring this problem up cause most people have some stupid answer for this problem. My husband started staring and looking at other women and even younger girls right in front of me (HIS WIFE!). I have told him this really bothers me more then a million times. I have been married to him for almost 13 years and been going together for 9 years before we were married. We have to beautiful daughters and everything else seems to be fine except for this one problem. I could use some really good advice. PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!

  4. Patti says:

    (USA) Ann, I wanted to try to tell you I do think you’re on the right track to letting GOD take over your problem. I do think you need to help from GOD to help you get through this time with your husband. What I mean by this is to pray to GOD and GOD will help you through this problem. After you ask for GOD’S help the hard part will be to get help for your husband. Maybe when he is sober, just ask him if he would like to go on a date with you. Despite everything that is going on this will make him feel off guard with you and maybe he will tell you what is going on with him.This way maybe by having some fun (and I know this will be hard) you can convince him that he really needs to get some help.

    Let your husband know how much you will help him through this and how much you care for him. Husbands really need to hear from there wives how much they need them. If its too hard to do what I said, then get help from your family or his family both if you can. I hope this helps. I will pray for you both. Patti.

  5. Patti says:

    (USA) Can someone please respond to my problem!!!! -or if anything just give me a list of what you think it can be. I have been living with this hurt for so long I can’t take it any longer! I know everyone is thinking – so what he’s staring at, other women in front of me, big deal – it’s the pain of him not caring for my feelings when I tell him this really hurts me! He is hurting my self-esteem and the most important thing I feel the most, is his feeling for me is gone and that is hurting my soul. Every time he does this A PART IN SIDE OF ME DIES! PLEASE HELP!!! NO one can know what I am going through until you go through it yourself. Patti.

  6. Rose says:

    (S. AFRICA)  Dear Patti, I am so sorry you have hurt for so long over this matter. Some people may say “its not a big deal” but for you it is breaking you apart. What concerns me is your husbands lack of sensitivity. Is he just teasing you or is there more to it? You say you have spoken to him over and over and he just carries on.

    This is NOT acceptable and no matter how innocent “he says” his behavior is, it needs to stop. You need to tell him that you are concerned he does not love you anymore –that he is breaking you apart. You must remember he will continue in his ways if you allow him to. I note a sense of insecurity in your life. Deal with it quickly before it is too late. Ask Gods guidance in this matter and pray for a change of heart in your husband.

  7. Cindy Wright says:

    (USA) I whole-heartedly agree with Rose on this matter. My heart breaks with yours that your husband just doesn’t “get it” as to the damage he is doing to your marriage and the heart of his wife, that he promised to “love and cherish” for the rest of your lives. I just don’t understand this type of insensitivity that he is displaying, by dishonoring and downplaying the seriousness of your feelings over this matter.

    I don’t know if you have read the new version of the book, “Love Must Be Tough” by James Dobson, but the concept is very applicable in this case. Your husband’s behavior is rude on so many levels. Somehow you need to get through to him that you don’t appreciate this and won’t tolerate these types of actions any longer. I suggest you read the book, pray about how you can approach your husband (and the timing of when you approach him). Obviously the ways in which you have been dealing with this hasn’t been working. You need another approach — one that Christ would lead you to do.

    I’m sure there are places where your husband doesn’t act this way (such as in a serious business meeting or a job interview and other times), so it means that he does it because he CAN. It’s called “Functional Fixedness.” We have an article in the “Save My Marriage” section titled “Why Doesn’t My Husband Change: Functional Fixedness” that I would recommend you read. Between praying and reading this article and the book, I believe God will use them to help you figure out how to inspire your husband to stop such behavior. I pray this will help. Our prayers are with you.

  8. LOICE says:

    (USA)  PATTI, I want to assure you that our wrestle is not against flesh and blood but evil spirits. I know this has been going on for a long time for you but I have a few tips that have helped me.

    1. Occupy yourself with Bible reading. One of the Bible verses says “love is long suffering, does not take offense”. Please train yourself to be patient in prayer and to overlook these lustful sins your husband has.

    2. Try to feel sorry for him for the wrath that will come to adulterers. This will make you to want to pray for him and help him in a peaceful way.

    3.Look straight ahead and focus on God ‘s promises. The temptation will be to look at how your husband reacts every time you pass other women. What you don’t notice won’t hurt your feelings so try by all means not to notice these things. The devil is out there and wants us to get mad. Bearing these trials is a credit for you in the eyes of God.

    5. Practice forgiving. Don’t be mad at him but be angry with evil spirits which only God can fight on our behalf. This takes you back to prayer.

    6. I don’t think talking to your husband will help if he is still under the power of sin. It may actually boost his ego and he may boast about how “jealous” he thinks you are. If he knows it offends you he may continue doing it just to make you feel inadequate and cause you to worship him. Let him be (its temporary). Talk to God and he will engage you in other things whilst he works with your husband.

    7 Trust God in all circumstances (no ifs or buts), your husband will be fine with his Maker.

    • Khanyisa says:

      (SOUTH AFRICA) The comment sent by Loice in 31 July 2009; this is exactly what the Holy Spirit taught me to do for my marriage life as of this year 2013 and I am enjoying my life without looking at what my husband is doing but seeing it as a spiritual warfare. I don’t know where Patti is but I believe it helped her.

      A big thank you; to all men & women in all continents for your contributions; it really makes a difference. Thank you to the Wright family.

  9. Jessica says:

    (USA)  I love my fiance ever so much and we’ve been together for three years. I never noticed that his nose is slightly crooked from the left side and his teeth are slightly crooked as well. This bothers me so much now, but I can’t let him go I love him so much, and it would be the most shallow thing I would have ever done. I’m not saying I am perfectly good looking, but I guess I don’t have to look at myself. I really love his face and his blue eyes but now that I notice these things they bother me :( and I feel so guilty what should i do? I want to be with him forever.

    • Tammie says:

      (USA) Jessica, I can relate to your post. When my husband and I were dating there were a few unattractive things about him. These things bothered me to the hilt! I was very consumed with how imperfect these things were and debated moving forward with marriage b/c of them.

      A very good friend reminded me how the prophet Samuel went to anoint the next king and they did not consider David because he was in the field and unattractive. God didn’t look to the outside he looks at the inside of a person’s heart when it comes to making choices.

      My husband (boyfriend at the time) has a wonderful heart. And I realized physical things can be changed and adjusted very easily. If you feel comfortable enough, start up a conversation about physical imperfections and ask him if there’s anything he would like you to adjust and then vise versa. Physical attraction is very important but not the most important. Women have babies and ALL body parts are affected by that miracle. God forbid, accidents occur and physical changes can happen also but at the end of day, everyone wants to know they are still loved.

      Currently, the physical imperfection about my husband (skin irritation) has cleared up and he has found medicine to maintain it. Just think, I could have missed my blessing because of a minor problem, that once was a huge problem in my eyes a couple years ago.

  10. S says:

    (USA) I really needed this one. We just hit our 3 year anniversary and it’s been a TOUGH three years. But my irritant… he closes nothing –doors (to the bathroom, outside, closet, whatever), drawers, cabinets, nothing…

    I’ve asked nicely. I’ve fussed. I’ve pleaded. I’ve put notes up on the doors saying, “Please close me. Thank you, signed the wife!” I’ve reminded. I’ve asked if it was a conspiracy to make me crazy or if it was a control issue.

    He’s a muscle bound dude with apparently no door/cabinet/drawer closing muscle strength (or some type of unrecognized phobia). I have accepted that –and every day for the last month, I start my day by closing his drawers, then the bathroom door, then the closet door, then the laundry room door. THAT is why I laughed out loud when I read this Message. So let me introduce myself, my name is _____ and I’m my husband’s closer.

    • Cindy Wright says:

      Dear S… Perhaps Paul Byerly can give you some additional hints on what you can do to help change this door issue. He just wrote a blog today on this same thing. You can read it at: http://www.the-generous-husband.com/2013/03/05/if-you-loved-me-you-would-close-that/. And if he can’t help you perhaps reading another blog that I wrote a while back might minister to you in some way. You can find it at: http://www.marriagemissions.com/praying-over-hangers/.

      I finally had to stop getting so irritated and use it as an opportunity to grow beyond it, otherwise, it would STILL be a problem! What’s “funny” is that when I finally gave up the fussing and reminding and nagging and getting angry and irritated (and the list goes on), and instead I prayed over the hangers that were left out, all of a sudden my husband hardly ever leaves his hangers out anymore. I’m dumbfounded by this! I can’t say that this will happen to you, but whatever happens, sometimes we have to let go of the smaller irritants and save our energy for the “biggies” that really do matter in the bigger picture of our life. I hope this helps in some way.

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