Marriage Day 21 – Best Way To Help Your Spouse Change

Marriage Day 21 – Best Way To Help Your Spouse Change

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There are several ways to motivate a spouse to change. In this devotion, I provide you with six of those ways. As you go through this list, examine your heart to see which ones you tend to employ the most often when your spouse is not changing according to your expectations.

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)?

  • The Shame Approach: Pointing out how dumb that thing was that your spouse did.
  • The Guilt Approach: Comparing your spouse’s poor behavior with someone else’s good behavior.
  • The Threat Approach: Yelling the consequences of your spouse’s sin if they continue in it.
  • The Condemnation Approach: Putting your spouse down or making fun of them in front of others.
  • The Critical Approach: Always pointing out your spouse’s faults, no matter how small they may be.
  • The Cynical Approach: Though your spouse may have done something right, you know their intent was selfish.

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.

  • You encourage your spouse.
  • You give your spouse insight into how Jesus lived.
  • You show your spouse good and acceptable behaviors.
  • You both can praise God for His work in your lives.
  • You build up your encouraged spouse in the faith.
  • You strengthen your relationship with your spouse.
  • You have more liberty to bring future critique to your spouse.

Time to Reflect

  • Do you have a well-tuned Got-It-Right-Antenna? As you might imagine, this takes more time and is more challenging to perfect than being a nitpicker. Catching people doing well takes effort, but when you see them getting it right, it motivates them toward change because that is what God’s kindness does.

Practical Suggestion

  • For the next seven days, I want you to sharpen your “got it right antenna” by observing, catching, identifying, and acknowledging your spouse getting it right. Each time you “catch your spouse” doing something right, let them know. Work hard at becoming an encourager.

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