Jan
15
2011

Expect the Best in Your Spouse

We’ve witnessed some pretty ugly marriage relationships, some to have split up altogether. To everyone with range, it’s devastating. Reflecting on these relationships, we can pin-point a common trend in each marriage that ended in divorce: respect.

Micah and Tabitha

This is a goofy picture with nothing to do with this article. Micah and Tabitha having fun.

Respect is a tough one to accept. Seems too simplistic. When we press this as the problem, we often get these kinds of responses:

  • “But you don’t know how bad of a husband he is. Let me tell you about some of the crummy things he does…”
  • “But she’s a witch. I can’t do a thing without her slamming on me. Let me tell you…”

And the vile stories throw up all over us. After they vent a bit, we typically come back with, “See? You don’t respect your spouse.”

Still sounds too simplistic? Okay, we admit, it is. Turmoil in marriage is complex, but nothing is too tumulus that can’t be overcome. We offer this simple remedy: Expect the best in your spouse.

This starts with holding your tongue about how bad he/she is. Instead of focusing on the bad, focus on the good. If he/she is prone to an annoying habit and won’t change, choose to live with it.

We’ve applied this principle in our marriage, and we’ve seen great resolution from it. You may accuse us of being too simplistic, and perhaps we are, but it is this simple anecdote to tense times that have helped make our marriage awesome.

We’re going to post on some specifics later, but we first want to hear from you. Are we being too simplistic? Is your spouse empowered or hindered by you? Are you empowered or hindered yourself?

About Chris & Wendy Jeub

The Jeub Family live in Monument, Colorado. They encourage couples to love God and love one another, building an atmosphere of love in their homes.

  • http://jent-manyblessings.blogspot.com JenT

    I think respect is vital in any relationship, but especially in a marriage. There is no other relationship where you are so close and know everything about the other person. Sometimes when we get to that point we lose the respect we have for them. It is very important to keep that respect alive.

    • Wendy Jeub

      JenT, You make a really good point, ‘There is no other relationship where you are so close and know everything about the other person.’ This is so true! You are right we do have to keep the respect alive it is a choice.

  • http://www.joyfuljohnsons.blogspot.com Roan

    You are not too simplistic, and you are exactly right. We must expect the best in our spouse. We must also think positive thoughts concerning our spouse. If we constantly gripe inside our minds, complain to ourselves about the rotten things he does or does not do, then guess what? That is what will come out of our mouths! To paraphrase Scripture…out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.

    We must train our minds to dwell on the positive qualities of our spouse. We must “love our neighbor as ourself”, we must put his needs ahead of our own. And we must expect the best from him. Not always looking for the disappointments, but always looking for the positive.

    We must look for things to be thankful about concerning our spouse, and express this thankfulness to him. Thankfulness produces joy. It works every single time.

    Plus–guess what? Your spouse is not married to someone perfect either. :)

  • Tara

    I admit I have no respect for my husband. And yes, he has not been the person he should be in our marriage. We too have a very large family, but I cannot bear the thought of having anymore with our relationship in the condition its in. I am taking measures to keep that from happening. Its all well and good to think that things can be fixed, but its one thing to talk about improving relationships and another to actually do it. Especially when one party thinks they’ve done nothing wrong. We used to be likeminded in many ways, However I see now sometimes things just don’t work out the say they should. I am angry and see no way out.

    • http://www.apurposefullife.blogspot.com Heather

      Tara,
      Nothing is impossible with God! I can only say that because I have been there. The first several years of my marriage were mostly bad ones. My husband was an alcoholic with anger issues and eyes prone to wander. Life was horrible! I had 2 little girls, and prayed that God would not send another baby, especially a boy, until he could be a good father to that boy. When things were at their worst, and I thought divorce was surely the only answer, everywhere I turned there were messages about saving your marriage.(radio programs, articles in newspapers and magazines, etc,.)I figured God was telling me this was not what HE wanted me to do. I learned to lean on God’s promises, and trust in Him. I learned that even if I couldn’t trust my husband, I could trust God, and God does not leave what He started unfinished – including my husband, and me I might add! I have also learned to grab ahold of the Bible verse 1Peter 3:6 It is a verse we all love to hate about submitting to our husbands, but at the end it says, “do not give way to fear!” Oh, how we fear! Especially if things are not how we want them to be. Someone has to start the reverse of the downward spiral, it may not be fair, but why don’t you try? Start with something small that you can say thank you for, or just say I love you, even if the feelings aren’t there right now. I can happily say that we have now been married for 19 years, and although I do give way to fear and insecurity at times, God saved our mariage! If He can do it for me, He can do it for you! (And He gave us 4 more children, including 2 boys to whom he is a wonderful father!)

      • Wendy Jeub

        Heather is right! One of us has to move. If we both remain selfish and won’t give over or give in then we start to move backwards in our relationship. The enemy of our soul wants us to sit at a stand still and not give over. He wants us to fail. God wants us to succeed!

        I have prayed for you and may God shine on you today.

        (Hugs)

    • Wendy Jeub

      Tara, I am so sorry. I am sorry you feel there is no way out.
      Take heart. Start small. Maybe this issue is not the last stand. If he thinks he has done nothing wrong pray for him and lift him before the Lord. Ask God to open both your eyes.

      Someone has to have a soft heart.

      (Hugs)
      Psalm 66

  • Rita H.

    Empowered, both ways! Have had the “hindered” way at times in our 25-yr. marriage … it simply isn’t good or productive. I can’t imagine life without my “empowerment” partner.

    • Wendy Jeub

      Rita, You are right!

  • sandra

    Yes,love is based on friendship and respect,as I learned in one of Dr Dobson’s books.I think the respect is actually more important than the friendship..if you don’t have that,you don’t have anything.
    I have to remember to bite my tongue sometimes when my husb. does something I think is really dumb..if I wouldn’t say it to my kids,I try not to say it to him,either.

    • Wendy Jeub

      Sandra, We do need to be friends.

  • Kathy Wooten

    I heartily agree Chris & Wendy. Mutual respect is the cornerstone to marriage. Every argument we have had as a couple was based around one of us not feeling respected by the other. My one questions is what do you do when extended family medels in the sacred marriage covenant? We are currently experiencing some seroius challenges in this area. Any advice you could give would be appreciated. We hope to handel these issues in the most Godly and objective ways possible! Thank you!
    Sincerely,
    Kathy Wooten
    Wife to Pastor Grover
    Mom to nearly 9 <3

    • Wendy Jeub

      Karen, Without knowing the whole story I would advise that you stick together. Pray about it. Also in general people only know what we tell them. So keep everything to yourself and don’t open yourself up to the judgment and criticism of others.

      Always speak positively about your spouse in front of others and this will build your outlook as well as theirs.

      (Hugs) I do pray things get resolved.

  • Karen

    Respect is very important as is giving the other person forgiveness and hoping the best for them. Prayer is vital too. I’ve seen prayer work miracles in my own marriage.

    It’s good to submit to your husband, but when I see that being toted as the cure-all for a marriage, well it offends me deeply. God gave each of us free will, and if a man by his own free will sins, then a woman can’t manipulate him out of it or be accountable for it. I love and am very grateful that I have a good husband, but if I did not and he was unfaithful, I would not take the blame for that. I would simply do my best to leave and have a mature and considerate divorced relationship. I know of women who have been given stds by unfaithful husbands, and that is abuse.

    • Rachel Stauffer

      Respectfully, I would counter your argument – Although, the Bible would release a woman from an unfaithful husband and she is free to go- How better to demonstrate the love of God to our spouse if a wife continued to love and sincerely serve an unfaithful, undeserving, husband- taking the consequences of his sin in her own body. Denying herself and what she feels entitled to in order to love him as Christ loved us. We were/are unfaithful and undeserving of Christ’s love and yet He took the consequences of our sin in his own body unto death.

      I have to say the times in my life when I have loved and respected my husband the most were/are those times when he continues to love me, respect me, and serve me when I am the least deserving of it. He is ‘being Jesus to me’ in this way and I feel closer to him and closer to Christ. In such way, a wife has a tremendous ability for a powerful, Christ-like witness to her spouse.

      • Annie

        Rachel, you’ve said it perfectly!

        The point at which my marriage grew stronger was when I decided in my heart that no matter what my husband did (even being unfaithful) I was going to love him “as unto the Lord”. I committed him and our marriage into the hands of my loving Father, and decided I would love and reverence my husband not because he deserves it (no one deserves respect), but I would do it because I need to obey my God who died for me. Any sacrifice I must make in my marriage, and to my husband, in no way compares to the sacrifice that Jesus made for me! Run the race not for your lifetime, but for eternity.

      • Wendy Jeub

        Rachel-Very well said and very insightful! Thank you for taking the time to respond.

  • Karen

    Oh also, I have learned from experience that what some husbands need and want and makes them respect you more is when you tell them the truth – even if they may not appreciate it at first – and challenge them to do better. Open and honest communication is just about the fiber of our marriage, so if I’m having a hard time and need his help, I don’t make the mistake of letting resentment build up before I tell him so.

    I just wish people would be more careful in choosing spouses, and find someone who respects you and really cares about you from the beginning. If they don’t love God and answer to God, they won’t care about you either.

    • Wendy Jeub

      Karen, I totally agree with your last paragraph. Ladies and gents need to look a lot harder before they get into a relationship with someone who really does not follow the same values. Take more time.

      You were not put on this earth to ‘change’ your spouse! God made that person the way they are and you need to respect that.

      There is plenty of time before you get married to look and listen and speak up. Once your married your time of choosing is over. You chose and you need to give over and have respect.

      Nobody made you get married. Pray over everything.

  • Tammie

    @ Kathryn, NO parent is perfect.. NOT ONE .. NOT Wendy, Not you , not I and NOT Michelle Duggar or any oother MOM ! We all just learn as we go … Jesus told us that we can only do the best we know and learn from our mistakes and forgive past transgressions …. children dont come with instruction books and while we as parents look at our little children and think how great things are sometimes by the time they grow and we actually have a chance to sit back and look, it isnt the way we saw it then. We all change, we all make mistakes and we can either learn from them and move on doing the best we can or we can continue to make them and repeat them passing them on to our children.

    I loved this article though, I have learned so much from reading and taking to heart alot of examples and ideas, things like this have helped us so much. We used to be alot different then we are now, but you cannot change the past, but every dau is a new day given by God and a fresh chance for a great start. :O)

    • Kathryn

      Tammie, you are exactly right. I am not perfect. However, unlike the other moms you mentioned, I do not go around telling other women how to parent or be a wife.

  • Abby

    I agree with almost everything on this article and comments, but only the situation of the unfaithfulness discussed above is where I have a slight issue.

    All in respect, as mentioned a women can be released from a marriage in the case of adultery, and I personally don’t feel it is any more Godly to stay in the marriage after such an event then to leave. Of course, most will want to try and save their marriages, but could this not be saying to the husband “feel free to treat me poorly and disrespect me, our marriage and potential family by being unfaitful because I will stay with you anyway” – this will not help the man or the woman or the marriage. With all due respect, I don’t think it demonstrates any less of Gods love if the woman decided to free herself from the man she thought would always be faitful and love her.

    Before we cast a shadow over all husbands, does the same apply the other way around, if the wife is unfaitful to the husband? or do we feel it is only our duty to be a whitness unto our husbands? (I only say so because the discussion appears to be about how we treat the hubands not the other way round)

    • Kathryn

      I totally agree with you, Abby. Amen and Amen.

    • Wendy Jeub

      Abby, Rachel did state that a women is free to go. However, she is correct in stating that staying and being with him is demonstrated by Jesus himself.

      No you do not have to stay and you have every reason to leave but by staying it is a witness. Of course every situation would be different and need to be managed.

      I know is seems that this would be just an open door for him to continue to walk on you and leaves you open to even more unfaithfulness but that may not happen. I know many women who have stayed and worked it out.

      What Rachel stated was very well put and it so goes against the tide of society today.

      Further I didn’t think the thread was going in one direction toward just the husband but that only women were on here commenting and so just giving their own sides.

      I do see your point though if a women decides to free herself from the marriage she is free to do so.

      • Abby

        Hi Wendy,

        I suppose this line you said was what my counter point to Rachel’s was largely based on:

        “I know is seems that this would be just an open door for him to continue to walk on you and leaves you open to even more unfaithfulness but that may not happen”

        You are absolutely right, it may not happen, and I know that marriages can pull through with a lot of work and committment. What I was putting forward, is that we, as Christians, should not make either partner feel less Godly if the decide to leave. Rachels point is excellent, it can be a whitness, but it can also lead to a trap in a marriage where the situation is strongly taken advantage of and the consequences nt good for anyone involved.

        I’m saying that we should not put it out there to people in this situation that they are more Godly, more Christian to saty in their marriages, but that we can be Godly if we stay and Godly if we use the escape gate the Bible has given if we personally feel that is the best option for the marriage and the family. I don’t think anybody takes these decisions lightly.

        We cannot put it out there to vulnerable people that to leave is to go with society and potentially make the feel they are going against Christianity, we should’nt encourage people to stay just to prove a point against society.

        I fully respect your view and Rachels, and I’m glad we agree about the bible :)

        and yes valid point there do only seem to be women responding…..I just wanted to express a valid thought

  • Becky

    Thank you all for addressing this important subject head on!!! I have been married to my college sweetheart for almost 22 years. We have six blessings. I am an only child and so longed to have a close family life. The first ten years of our marriage were difficult. We were young and did not always make the best decisions. I am SO glad that the Lord changed my heart toward my husband. We were determined to stay together, but it was the Lord who changed our hearts toward each other and helped us to see how putting each other before ourselves would benefit our marriage the most. The BEST years that we have had together have been the last 5!!! I want to encourage people that are in difficult marriages… DO NOT GIVE UP!!! The Lord gives beauty for ashes. He wants to change your marriage. If you are willing to love your husband and to submit to him out of your love for the Lord, he can soften the heart of your spouse. It may take more time than you thought, but it will be well worth it!!!!!
    Blessings,
    Becky

    • Wendy Jeub

      Becky, I read your post and was just applauding!! Praise God that he restored your joy!

      This part right here was my favorite, ‘it was the Lord who changed our hearts toward each other and helped us to see how putting each other before ourselves would benefit our marriage the most. The BEST years that we have had together have been the last 5!!!’

      What a great statement and this is key to a loving and Christ centered marriage by putting the other before ourselves. When we try to put ourselves over one another we only manage to demonstrate a worldly marriage. God has so much more for us to experience then that. I am so glad that the two of you have discovered the difference.

  • Karen

    Wendy, I’m not talking about trying to change someone all the time or setting up an adversarial relationship between husband and wife, but too much of the time a husband is sinning and there is NO ONE who knows about it and can keep him accountable to God for it in the method the Bible prescribes except the wife. When my husband does something wrong, and I mean REALLY wrong and I know about it, I’m not going to kiss his feet and act extra sweet and just pray he repents for one reason and one reason only – I’ve tried it and things only got worse. So I’m going to tell him the truth. That’s all. He loves me enough to care that I’m disappointed in him and take it into consideration. I don’t think I could stand being with someone who didn’t respect my opinion and advice, it would drive me nuts so thank God I’m not!!

    • Wendy Jeub

      Karen, With respect I was completely agreeing with you. Sorry it sounded like I wasn’t.

      I was just adding on to the comment with my own words. I said, ‘You were not put on this earth to ‘change’ your spouse! God made that person the way they are and you need to respect that.

      There is plenty of time before you get married to look and listen and speak up. Once your married your time of choosing is over. You chose and you need to give over and have respect.

      Nobody made you get married. Pray over everything.’

      I was not talking to you per say, I should have put it like this Ladies take more time before you get married.. I hope that cleared things up.

      • Wendy Jeub

        …..And not just ladies but men too.

  • Karen

    OK I understand what you’re saying, but I also want to add that even if you find the “perfect” man remember he isn’t perfect. It’s one thing to point thing out once, it’s quite another to harp on it and make him feel he can do no right. I struggle with that and I think most women do. God will help us though!

    Also I took a long time to find my husband, but once I found him I didn’t take long to marry him, because I knew what I was looking for and not looking for. And that’s been okay. I don’t think it would’ve hurt us to take more time to get to know each other, but it wouldn’t have changed anything. Sometimes it’s better to marry quickly if temptation is getting too much and you know that’s the one you want. :)

  • Wendy Jeub

    Karen, it sounds like you knew what you were really looking for and that is good, I also think it is rare.

    I agree that couples need to guard themselves against temptation and not wait to long to marry.

    However, they need to keep their heads and not take on someone who really doesn’t have respect for them.

    It is also important to ask those around you who are trustworthy and can tell you if this person really is what they seem to be. Like parents, grandparents and mentors.

    May the Lord Bless you Karen.

  • Rachel

    I am fairly new to marriage life – my husband and I will be celebrating 4 years in April. From what I’ve experienced these past years, I’d say that respect is something that my husband and I could practice more often.

    I’ve noticed that when my husband and I argue, it seems to be rooted in selfishness. We have two small children and both work full-time. We usually argue over petty things, like who is going to do the dishes and who is going to change the stinky diaper on the one year old. We are both tired, worn out and neither of us ‘feels’ like it. It sounds so childish, but we’re having a tough time getting through a week without arguments and hurt feelings.

    I’m sure if we respected each other more, it would do wonders. Thank you for posting on that topic, Wendy!

  • Christina

    I agree that respect is extremely important. But I feel that good, solid, regular communication is even more so. Sometimes we can increase in our respect by talking and listeing which enables us to understand more about the other person. When we feel we understand where they are coming from and that they understand the same about us, then moving forward doesn’t seem as impossible. Just my opinion though.

    • Rachel

      I agree that good, solid, regular communication is important as well. I have found that respect needs to be a part of a relationship to make the communication good and solid though. I have been in relationships where one side is attempting to communicate, and the other side doesn’t show respect – it feels a lot like talking to a brick wall. With love and respect, communication flows and becomes meaningful in a relationship.

  • Sara

    My husband could say some really bad things about me, but you’ll only ever hear positive comments about me in front of others. He chose to love and encourage me through the hard times, so I became a better person to meet up with his loving expectations. Had he focused on my faults, I believe I would have been further discouraged and gotten worse. I think most of the time, the one complaining is the one most capable of changing the marriage. One of my favorite things to do when I hear a young husband complain about his wife is to tell stories of when I was in that situation! He suddenly appreciates his wife a lot more! Marriage certainly is the most intimate relationship, and we know eachother often better than we know ourselves. So just like we wouldn’t go around telling everyone the worst things that go through our minds, we also shouldn’t go around telling the worst things that come out of our spouses’ mouths.

  • Kim

    I agree with the part about not speaking negatively. I do my very best to not speak of my husband at all to anyone. We are not divorcing. He has broken each and every marriage covenant there is to break. He feels it is his right to do as he wishes, because he is the family leader and bread winner. All the children know is that Dad works many, many more hours than anyone else’s Dad that they know so their dad must be Very Important. I wake up each morning and pray that today is the the day he will realize the things he’s missing and I expect great things. Each night as I tell him I love him and wish him a good night, I try not to be disappointed that today wasn’t the day. He left our church because our pastor (who has been his pastor since he was 8 or 9)told him he was not being the spiritual leader of our home that God has called him to be.

    I know there are ways out,certainly. I am overly educated, and could certainly support the family without him, but I stay home because I truly feel called as a mother and a wife. I know that there are other wives out there trying to hold up the covenant by themselves. I just want the silent ones that will read your essay about how simple it is, who know it’s not, to know they are not alone and to know I pray for them every single day.

    I’m not looking for advice-I’ve heard it all, from I should just kick him to the curb to I’m obviously not trying hard enough or he’d be a better leader. I just felt the need to note that it takes two to make a covenant and if the respect isn’t returned, what do you have? Besides my house, I mean….

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_P47OOR7WNK5HLWUTG7NXGG52FI Wendy B

    What if your husband isn’t worthy of respect? What if he refuses to get a job, or quits every job he gets? What if his temper is out of control? How about the fact that he sits around moping all day but certainly has enough energy to play on Facebook instead of looking for work to support his family? That’s not a man worthy of respect.