(Note: A downloadable PDF copy of this lesson is available on the last page.)
MANAGING YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD YOUR MARRIAGE PARTNER
There is no one person as intimately involved in your life as your marriage partner. So, your partner will make you more conscious of your inner life than anyone else. The Bible says:
… a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:24).
Your loyalty to each other, then, will build your self-respect. On the other hand, disloyalty to each other will chip away at your self-respect.
With your partner in mind, consider these verses:
But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him (Colossians 3:8-10).
If this is a picture of your inner life, you can keep it to yourself, but you are deceiving your partner, whose presence will be a continuous reminder to you of what you are doing.
Obviously, your self-respect will erode and your partner will have no idea of what is going on inside you. To give expression to such a spirit is equally demoralizing. It is not hard to understand why eventually such a person would flee from the marriage.
On the other hand, with your partner in mind, consider these verses:
Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against any one; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you (Colossians 3:12-13).
Clearly, if this is the condition of your inner life, the marriage relationship builds your self-respect.
The management of your inner life is your problem, discussed in detail in chapter 8.
… be subject to one another in the fear of Christ (Ephesians 5:21).
The will to cooperate is an important key to building self-respect. Competition between partners will have the opposite effect.
Cooperation implies that both husband and wife make the decision to dedicate time and effort in developing a mutually agreeable way of life.
Regular formal or informal conferences need to be held to assign responsibilities and develop policies, procedures, and rules that both can live with.
These little meetings can be held in the car, the kitchen, the living room—anywhere.
Two attitudes must exist in these meetings: (1) you mean to serve your partner, and (2) you will be bound by the decisions made by the partnership.
Daily effort, constant examination, and frequent changes will keep your relationship going.
The overriding spirit in all of this is to do it as unto the Lord. The Bible says:
I exhort you, brethren, by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10).
Your self-respect will grow if you maintain an attitude of cooperation in the marriage–whether your partner does or not.
No matter how committed you are to cooperate, it is inevitable that sooner or later you will become deadlocked over some decision. There is a way to settle a deadlock if you are committed to resolve the divisions between you.
Someone must have the last word.
In a business, it’s the president. In sports, it’s the coach. In a game, it’s the captain. In a marriage, it’s the husband. The Bible says:
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22).
In the decision-making process, the wife should participate vigorously and forthrightly in the search for a mutually agreeable solution. The husband should think twice, or more, before going against his wife’s judgment.
If the wife still disagrees with her husband’s tie-breaking decision, she should say so.
The husband has two options when there is a deadlock:
- Make the decision himself.
- Ask his wife to make it.
Once done, both husband and wife submit to the decision and do all in their power to make it work.
Whether husband or wife, a spirit of submission builds self-respect. On the other hand, a spirit of selfishness or rebellion will chip away at self-respect.