Have you ever seen on of those political thriller movies where two soldiers are deep in a secret bunker waiting for the orders to launch the missiles? Each one has his hand on a key. For the missiles to launch, both people must turn their keys.
Many husbands and wives are waiting for their spouse to make changes before they are willing to do anything different themselves. You turn your key first, and then I will turn mine! So the wife says, “As soon as I see you starting to love, serve and lead, then I will start helping, and respecting.” The man replies, “Well, as soon as I get some respect around here, then I will love you more. How can I love someone who treats me the way you do?” Then round and round we go.
Struggling marriages are often locked in the “blame mode.” As the woman considers her marriage and family her thoughts go something like this, “If my husband would just show me more affection, be less harsh with the kids, realize that his work schedule is killing the family, and lead family devotions then everything around here would change.”
His thoughts move in the same direction. “If my wife would stop being so anxious about everything, have a positive attitude, stop treating me like a child, and quit being reckless with our money then everything around here would change.”
There are two reasons why the “blame mode” is easy to get into and hard to leave. First, just as with our first parents Adam and eve, our sinful nature always wants to blame others for the problems and suffering in our life. Second, the list of concerns you have about your spouse is probably legitimate. If your spouse did make these changes your family would change dramatically.
But here is the problem. When both of you are in the blame mode, your marriage won’t change. All your energy is focused on your spouse’s problems and shortcomings. How is it working for you? Is your spouse changing? Probably not. Blame mode is not effective for bringing about change in your spouse. It is like one soldier, who is not turning his missile key, sitting there obsessing about why the other guy is not turning his!
So who should go first? Should the husband? Or should the wife? Emerson Eggerichs [author of the book, Love and Respect] has a great answer to this. He suggests that “the more mature person” should go first. Ponder that for a moment, and you will quickly see his point.
But my husband doesn’t deserve my respect! My wife is so critical and negative, how could I ever love her? God addresses this for us back in the Ephesians 5 text.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church…” Do we deserve the unconditional love of Christ? Have we earned His love with our exceptional behavior, character, and perfect holiness? Once again, the answer is no. It isn’t meant to be harsh, but wives don’t deserve the unconditional lobe of their husbands. Ladies, don’t act like you deserve the unconditional love of your husband. You don’t.
Men, if you’re waiting for perfection from your wife before you start showing her love, you are going to be waiting for a long time. Wives don’t deserve the unconditional love of their husbands, and yet, what are husbands commanded to do? A husband is to give his wife what she doesn’t deserve.
Let’s consider the other side of the question. Husbands, do you deserve the respect of your wife? Have you earned it with your exemplary character and holy behavior? The answer is the same, no! Men, don’t demand respect, because you have not earned it, and remember that you don’t deserve it. So husbands don’t deserve the respect of their wives, and yet, what are wives commanded to do? Respect their husbands. A wife is to giver her husband what he doesn’t deserve.
In order to launch a visionary marriage, both husband and wife must embrace their God-given roles and responsibilities. They must both turn their own key. The best way to do this is for both the husband and wife to submit themselves to God’s Word. They can then turn their keys at the same time.
But in many marriages, one spouse makes the choice to submit to God’s instructions before their partner makes the same choice. It is better to have one key turned than none. It is better for one person to embrace God’s plan for marriage and family, and be waiting for the other person to make the same choice than for both husband and wife to remain in rebellion against God and hard-hearted toward one another.
If someone has to be the first to turn his or her key, let it be you. Not only can your individual choice to please God set into motion a series of events which can transform your family, but whether your marriage changes or not, you are still accountable to God for the choices you make as a husband or wife.
This article comes from the book, Visionary Marriage: Capture a God-Sized Vision for Your Marriage, written by Rob and Amy Rienow, published by Randall House. “This book is not a book about secrets, tips, and tricks to building a more enjoyable relationship… This book will reveal that God does have a plan and a purpose for marriage and family. The focus is on the big-picture purpose for marriage, and the goal of being successful once understanding that purpose.”
— ALSO —
There is another article, we highly recommend you read. It is posted on the Divorce Busting web site. Although this isn’t designed to be a Christian Web site it does have a lot of great information that lines up biblically:
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