“Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4)?
How did you do? Did you see yourself in any of those approaches? All of the methods I have suggested can work, especially if your spouse willingly gives you that kind of power over them or if you manipulate them into submission. If any of these methods are the ones you employ, you may be an exasperating person. If you continue to use these methods, your marriage will stay weak, strained, and non-redemptive.
Let’s say your observations about your spouse are correct. Did you know that having the right perspective does not automatically mean your methods for change are correct? There is a process for change found in the Bible, and it can be redemptively useful. This approach finds its anchor in the gospel. There are many ways to say it, but I will simplify by calling it “being nice” for now. How are you doing at being nice to your spouse, especially when he/she is not meeting your expectations? (cf. Matthew 5:44-45; Luke 6:27) I call this the encouragement approach.
But guard against impure motives when you try this at home. The primary reason to be kind should be because of your desire to magnify God’s name by putting His Son on display in the context of your marriage. You want to make His name fantastically great for His glory and the benefit of your spouse.
If you get good results because you were kind to your spouse, you can praise God for those positive outcomes. Personal blessings for loving God and others more than yourself are things for praise, not idols for worship. Potential impure motivations are why you want to guard your heart against using niceness as a tool rather than being obedient regardless of outcomes.
The “Encouragement Approach” does not mean you should overlook sin. You should not ignore your spouse’s sins. But finding fault is not typically that hard. What you may have to do is train your mind to encourage your spouse. Adamic people do not natively make encouragement their practice. But when you do encourage someone, redemptive things happen.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).