We talked about marriage last week, and I want to continue exploring the topic. No one has ever said marriage is easy. But it’s also not impossible! These four attitudes, left unattended, can harm and potentially destroy a marriage.
1. Self-centeredness. This is the the attitude that’s all about me. I am the center of my universe ultimately, and that affects how I treat others.
Phil 2:3-4: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests…”
- Mutual esteem is the foundation for a successful marriage—not romantic love. Romantic love is subject to feelings and moods. Mutual esteem is not. Esteem has to do with respect and admiration. It’s about choosing that other person and choosing to have love for them. Now, don’t get me wrong, romantic love is important, it’s just not the foundation! It can waver, where mutual esteem is a choice.
- Esteem comes by understanding and appreciation of the role God has given each spouse. Where romantic love can be let down by your spouse’s shortcomings, esteem looks beyond that. It’s strong enough to see the bigger picture and lovingly push your spouse toward that.
2. Low Self-Esteem. Not only do you need to hold esteem for your spouse, you need to esteem yourself for the sake of your marriage.
Mark 12:30-31: “‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
- How you feel about yourself will affect your attitudes toward God, your spouse and others. How we feel about ourselves is a mirror that reflects how we esteem others. Remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, as is your neighbor. Remember that and allow the love of God, your spouse and children to penetrate your layers of insecurity and bring healing.
- God’s order of love is: love God first, love your spouse and children, love your neighbor as you love yourself. Remember to respect God’s creation by having love for all people–including yourself.
3. Fear. This attitude can harm your marriage and even the health of your children if it goes unchecked.
2 Timothy 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
- Fear inhibits the relationships one has, especially in the family. This could be fear of not being accepted, or fear of pleasing your spouse. Fear can lead to a type of paralysis where one stops trying. This fear could lead to a culture of lies and hiding being built up in the marriage, and that is never going to be healthy. Your spouse is the person you should be most open with outside of your relationship with God.
- Fear inhibits communication in the home. If you are afraid of losing children when putting your foot down, this is inhibiting your communication and protection of your children. This is especially difficult when teenagers pick the wrong friends. This fear needs to be cast aside so you can say and do the things that need to be said and done.
4. Anger/Bitterness This is possibly the most damaging attitude of all. I’ve seen too many couples divorce because this attitude went unchecked.
Col 3:19: “Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.”
Eph 4:26-27; 31-32: “”Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil… Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.”
- The home was meant to be an emotional haven of peace, love and joy. It’s the place you return to after a hard day to recuperate. But if your home is home to anger and bitterness, then it stops being the respite it was intended to be.
- We bring our anger into the home from our childhood, previous relationships and work. These are things that need to be dealt with, not allowed to explode and grow.
- Anger is the result of rejection and mistreatment. It is selfish as it develops a look-what-you-did-to-me attitude. Don’t get me wrong, your hurt and rejection are real and need to be dealt with. But if you let that hurt boil into anger, then it causes that attitude of self-centeredness to develop. Suddenly you can’t see beyond you.
- Anger is sin. Let’s not forget that anger is not only harmful to your marriage, it is sinful. If you are having an anger issue, seek help and pray.
If you find one of these attitudes in your marriage, hope is not lost. You can proactively deal with it through prayer, hard work and counseling. Honor your marriage by fighting for it!
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