They say that once you drive a new car off the car dealership lot, it immediately starts to depreciate in value. Somehow, that doesn’t seem right. And yet, it seems like the same principle applies to the “depreciating value” of a spouse after the wedding day extravaganza is all over. After the “party is over, I’ve seen where spouse appreciation can slide downhill from there.
Where once he or she was highly valued, honored and appreciated by the other spouse before the wedding (and faults overlooked), it can be a a downhill slide from that “day forward.” Somehow, that doesn’t seem right either.
Spouse Appreciation and Depreciation
I’m reminded of something I read in Gary Thomas’s book, Devotions for a Sacred Marriage. He wrote about the downhill slide of depreciating vs. appreciating our marital partner:
“When I come into town for ‘Sacred Marriage’ seminars, I often get taken out to dinner beforehand. The organizers sometimes invite an engaged couple to join us. I always like this, particularly if I feel tired from traveling, because I know I can ask one question of the engaged woman that will reward me with a good rest. I know this because she will likely take at least ten minutes to answer. The question is this, ‘Tell me about your future husband.’
“The bride-to-be’s eyes light up. She starts to gush with enthusiastic and unqualified praise. ‘Oh, I so appreciate this about him, and he’s so good at that. He’s so wonderfully thoughtful in this area, and in that area he’s absolutely the best…’
The Downhill Change
“Then, later in the weekend, I’ll be with a group of wives and say, ‘Tell me about your husbands.’ I still get a rest. But I don’t find it nearly as pleasant. The chorus goes like this: ‘He doesn’t do this. He never does that. He wouldn’t know how to spell ‘spiritual leader,’ much less act like one.’
“I go back to my hotel room and ask myself, ‘Where is the bridge that leads a woman to stop defining a man by what he is and start defining him by what he is not?’
“The sad answer, unfortunately, is marriage. All our hopes expectations, dreams, and ideals get poured into this real relationship. Because we marry a sinner, each day brings a new and often legitimate disappointment. Before long, we stop seeing what attracted us and instead become consumed by what disappoints us. Whereas before marriage our eyes filled with the glory of the person we had chosen to spend our lives with, now our eyes get filled only with shortcomings.”
That is SO true! Steve and I have been there and done that and sadly have to own up to it. What happened to us is a lot like what Gary and Carrie Oliver wrote:
“It seemed as if one morning we woke up more aware of each other’s weaknesses than strengths —more aware of what each other did wrong than right and more negative and critical of each other, our kids, our friends, and even God.”
The Spouse Appreciation Slide
It’s almost like an overnight transition. One day you appreciate all the other did and the next, you depreciate most of what he or she could ever do!
And yes, I understand that you never really know a person until you live with them day in and day out AFTER you marry. Data is now showing that those who live together, rather than marrying, are working with some of the “unknown.” It is a tentative relationship, at best. But you can do the best you can, rather than thinking “love” will make a way. Oftentimes it doesn’t. That is because people don’t cooperate with all it takes to participate in loving and giving lavish grace, as Christ does.
And I realize that you can only go so long on the bio-chemical high, which “new love” pumps into you. Attitudes change after the “shine” of the relationship starts to wear off. Grace isn’t given as freely.
I also realize that some couples don’t take marriage as seriously as they should. They don’t take the time to truly look into learning more about each other. This would help them to make sure this person would make a good marriage partner. What a HUGE mistake that is!
Back to the car “depreciation” comparison. Recently, a friend of one of our sons purchased a car and ended up with a big case of buyers-remorse. Though forewarned, this friend didn’t spend the time finding out the history of this car. He didn’t have this car inspected before purchasing it. Instead, he got caught up in the emotionality of the moment. He judged it by how it looked and how it “seemed” to perform. I think they call that impulse-buying. And trust me when I say, that impulse has turned into a nightmare as the repair bills keep mounting. The appreciation for this great car spiraled into depreciation almost immediately.
And so it can be for those who marry on impulse. And many do. They forget that purchasing a car is a temporary deal. But marrying someone is supposed to last “for as long as we both shall live.” Let this be a warning to you if you aren’t married yet. It shouldn’t be something you do impulsively or without really going overboard in doing all that’s possible to make sure you’re marrying someone who will be a good marriage partner to you and be committed for life through all the ups and downs!
This is ESPECIALLY true for those who are Christ-followers. Why go down that path? Christ is NOT impulsive when it comes to committing Himself to making hasty promises.
And then even if you weren’t impulsive in marrying and did prayerfully and carefully commit to marrying your spouse, why allow yourself to get to the place where you focus more on weaknesses rather than on strengths? It causes more damage than anything else. What makes any of us think that by depreciating and picking away at our spouse, it will inspire him or her to change for the better in some way?
How about building upon a foundation of appreciating qualities you DO have in a spouse, rather than depreciating them for what they can’t be for you —especially when depreciating them causes more problems and works on our own psyche in a negative way, as well as theirs?
I love what Pam Farrel talked about in a Crosswalk.com article titled, Giving Grace to a Good Man.
“One day, a friend and I were comparing notes on the realities of being married to a hard-working guy. Her garage was packed with several antique cars all in various stages of repair. Meanwhile, the home Bill had built for our family still lacked floorboards and a few doors were missing molding. Our home needs just never felt as pressing as the crises and struggles of those in the church where we ministered.
“We both stopped mid-sentence and smiled. ‘But this inconvenience is a small price to pay for a marriage to a really great guy.’ Both our husbands are kind, compassionate, diligent leaders at church and in the community. They are terrific fathers, incredible lovers and providers. A few car parts or some undone household tasks were suddenly put in their proper perspective by the Spirit.”
And that’s true. It’s also true that our spouse may not be able to be all we want. He or she may have many social and character flaws, which we have a difficult time dealing with. But the reverse is true, as well. We probably aren’t all he or she wants in a spouse. Because we’re a sinner, we mess up a lot too. It’s just in different ways. And yet we want grace and to be appreciated, rather than depreciated.
Here’s some advice that Pam Farrel gives, which lines up scripturally, and is good to keep in mind:
“Hebrews 13:15 encourages us to ‘continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise.‘ We will be better off if we make it a lifestyle to thank God and our man (or woman) even when it includes a little sacrifice.”
This advice also comes to life in a great testimonial written by Sharon Jaynes. It’s posted on the Growthtrac.com web site.
Starting today, ask God to help you appreciate rather than tear down and depreciate your spouse.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” (Hebrews 20:24 ESV)
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Peter 4:8-9 ESV)
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this blog.
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