Marriage Conversations: When Your Spouse Has a Problem (what do you do?)

What do you do when your spouse has a weakness, a struggle, that you don’t understand?

Something we neglected to mention right of the bat is that this video isn’t specifically about my anger problem (that would warrant a much longer conversation : ). Rather, we are using my tendency to blow up as a case study in how to handle the sins of your spouse.

OK, with that annoucement out of the way….YEESH! This took much longer to create, edit and publish than I anticipated.  I suspect that we will slowly perfect this process, but until then, please be generous with your magnanimity and charitable with your criticism.

So today we tackled the topic of besetting sins. Each human has one (or more) and it’s no use trying to argue or justify them away. The real difficulty comes when two humans enter a covenant of marriage, each sporting different besetting sins. Suddenly, you have double the problems. It wasn’t long after our wedding day that I realized that Paul’s sins were a much bigger deal to me than they had been only a few months (days!) before (and vice versa :-).

So what is a spouse to do? Assuming that the foundational goal in both of our lives is to love and serve God, how do we help each other fight against the desire to sin? Particularly those sins which seem to trip us up over and over and over again. Loving someone who is sinful is something we are all called to do. In marriage it is something that we have to do to survive. The question is, will you do it well or will you do it poorly.

In the video you’ll hear us answer our question with these basic ideas.

  1. Begin by genuinely trying to understand what the struggle is like for your spouse. Ask them to describe it. Ask them to use analogies. (Don’t call them crazy.) (This post about my struggle not to cheat might be helpful.)
  2. Work to have an attitude of compassion rather than condescension or retaliation.
  3. Be willing to lovingly move towards your spouse when they are caught in sin, knowing that it will be uncomfortable.
  4. Don’t let fear convince you that showing mercy is wrong.
  5. Believe them when they say that they want to change. Assume the best. Remember that you might not see progress (because it is internal) and that change might happen slowly.
  6. Always commit to moving towards them, not against or away from them. You are not their enemy. You are not their judge. Speak the truth (the hard truth!) but speak it in love, believing both that God will honor your heart attitude and that he will complete the good work he started in your spouse. Sanctification is no walk in the park. But it is so much better if someone walks beside you, encouraging you to do what is right.

It is worth noting that we are talking about average sin problems, not large ones that control your day to day life. If you or your spouse is struggling with a weighty sin issue – something that threatens your marriage, family etc – then do not be afraid to seek help. This is the wise and biblical course of action when the issues are larger than something you are able to cope with on your own.

Ok, well, there you go. We’ll get better at this, I promise. One day I’ll even make a video of the outtakes because yeah, I have a bunch of those : )

Have a wonderful week! Get conversing with your spouse!

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