How Trying to be the Good Spouse Can be a Bad Idea

Are you the smiling, dutiful good spouse, trying to fix your bad spouse and marriage? Stop trying to carry a burden that's not yours to carry! #marriage #good #wife #spouse #husband #troubles #conflict #Bible #acceptance #perfection #unrealistic

Years ago there was a popular show called “The Good Wife” that showcased the dynamic that often develops when one spouse’s character and actions are strikingly better than the other. Oddly enough, this kind of imbalance happens a lot in marriage.

Are you the smiling, dutiful good spouse, trying to fix your bad spouse and marriage? Stop trying to carry a burden that's not yours to carry! #marriage #good #wife #spouse #husband #troubles #conflict #Bible #acceptance #perfection #unrealistic

It’s as if the nurturing and dutiful wife (or husband) feels drawn into a romantic relationship with a bad guy/gal, like a moth to flame.

Regardless of your gender and role, maybe you can relate to the plight of “The Good Wife.”

Perhaps you’ve been in that kind of demoralizing situation for years and it might feel a bit like you’re doing some or all of the following …

1. Making sure to remain the calm and logical one in every argument.

2. Praying about every decision and staying super close to God.

3. Maintaining what seems on the surface like a “forgiving spirit” with your spouse.

4. Doing all the “right things” in life and marriage.

5. Taking responsibility when you know you’ve done something wrong. Though, not necessarily when your spouse thinks you’ve done something wrong!

6. Avoiding complaining and always keeping a stiff-upper-lip in the face of difficulty and mistreatment.

Problem is, after all this hard work, you don’t see your spouse changing or improving.

How can you go on when it’s all on your shoulders, with no sense of relief or understanding in sight?

Perhaps, over time, you’ve even come to believe that not only are you the good spouse but that you’re also married to the bad spouse.”

If so, then maybe you’ve even started to feel as if God is failing you. You can’t understand why the changes you’ve prayed about aren’t happening fast enough or aren’t noticeable enough in your mate.

This feels like a double-whammy—being let down by your spouse, as well as by your God! 

I was there at one time.

And though I never watched the show I mentioned above, I can relate to some of the feelings the main character might have had in what seemed like a totally unfair and lopsided situation.

To be clear, my husband was never unethical or immoral like the main character in that television show. But there were moments when his bad behavior, typically a bad temper, tempted me to don “The Good Wife” persona, albeit a distorted one in my case.

I felt as if I needed to counter his bad behavior with a godly and upright response. At least, that’s how I viewed it—that I was being godly and upright, that is! 😉

This was my misguided attempt to fix my marriage by doing everything I could to be “the good, godly wife.” Ironically, I found that I had shifted from being the good, godly wife to being “the martyr” with a neon-bright halo of self-righteousness pulsating over my head.

[bctt tweet=”Christ’s righteous light convicts and clarifies, while our self-righteousness blinds and intimidates like the light of interrogation. Let it go to God!” username=”BethSteffaniak”]

Truth was, I was being just as sinful and unhealthy in my reaction to him as he was in his with me.

I wasn’t willing to truly face my own responsibility in my marriage. Instead, I wanted to wait on my husband to take his up first before I would make a move.

Classic victim-mentality kicking in and paralyzing any progress or growth! 

How to Kick the Victim-Mentality to the Curb in Your Marriage

1. Give your spouse the freedom to be different. 

In my case, my husband wasn’t always doing something wrong or bad per se, he just wasn’t always doing what “I thought he should be doing.”

God reminds us of the need for acceptance and freedom in the bounds of His grace in Romans 14:13-19.

But instead of following these principles and truths, I was taking on the role of the Holy Spirit. I was trying to convict my husband of his sin when sometimes it wasn’t even a sin he was committing.

Whether he sins or doesn’t, the conviction of sin is always an inside job that God must do.

There may be times He asks us to speak into a situation. But in my experience, 9 times out of 10, God wants me to leave it in His capable hands!

2. Don’t assume that your spouse’s outward sins are worse than your inward sins. 

Sometimes our spouse’s negative behavior seems more noticeable and, therefore, uglier than ours. So, we assume this means our mates are the bad spouse and we are good spouses when nothing could be further from the truth! 

Just because you cannot see your bad attitude (though, your spouse surely does!), it does not mean it’s not as sinful. Every sin we commit nailed Christ to the tree!

If you minimize your sin, you minimize the price Christ paid for your sin! Just as He forgave you, so you too must forgive others (Eph. 4:32).

3. The only positive change you can make is your own! 

God wisely orchestrated that no one but He can bring about change in a person’s life.

Still, He does expect us to be good influencers and role-models for each other. We just never need to arrogantly think we are the change-agents, nor should we fall into a victim-mentality paralysis that waits on our mates, like I did, to change first.

[bctt tweet=”It’s actually a sign of great character and maturity to make the first move! Remember that the next time you hesitate because your spouse isn’t changing fast enough!” username=”BethSteffaniak”]

In conclusion, Jesus wants to replace you, the “good spouse” with Himself—the “Good God” in your marriage. He is the only One who can carry that heavy mantle with grace and power because He is the only One who is truly good.

Most of all, He is the only One who can change your spouse but first let Him change YOU.

If you are in an abusive situation, do not take the responsibility of this unhealthy situation another day! Make sure to seek professional help and don’t try to appease your spouse’s every mood or move. Contact the Domestic Abuse Hotline for help ASAP!


 

How can you relate to my experience of trying to be the good spouse? 

 

Which of the three ways to change do you need to put into practice the most in your marriage? 

 


Here are some other lovely linkups I join – Inspire Me MondayLiterary Musing MondaysPurposeful Faith, Tell His StoryInstaEncouragements LinkupRecharge WednesdayWorth Beyond Rubies WednesdayTune in ThursdayHeart EncouragementGrace and Truth, and  Faith on Fire Friday. Subscribe [yikes-mailchimp form=”1″]
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27 responses to “How Trying to be the Good Spouse Can be a Bad Idea”

  1. I once read a marriage study that warned wives not to be their husband’s Holy Spirit – a job reserved only for God. I’ve viewed my own “holy goodness” with caution ever since. Instead of trying to “fix” my hubby, I pray for God to change him and/or change me if I’m the real problem!

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  2. I once read a marriage study that warned wives not to be their husband’s Holy Spirit – a job reserved only for God. I’ve viewed my own “holy goodness” with caution ever since. Instead of trying to “fix” my hubby, I pray for God to change him and/or change me if I’m the real problem!

    Like

  3. ‘*BTW, this is not about being “good” in an abusive relationship. Tolerating abuse is never okay.’
    Thanks for this P.S., Beth. Tragically, there’s still an element in Christianity that tolerates emotional, verbal, and spiritual abuse. I so appreciate you keeping this warning on the table.

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  4. ‘*BTW, this is not about being “good” in an abusive relationship. Tolerating abuse is never okay.’ Thanks for this P.S., Beth. Tragically, there’s still an element in Christianity that tolerates emotional, verbal, and spiritual abuse. I so appreciate you keeping this warning on the table.

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  5. Amen, Beth! We can’t be the Holy Spirit in someone else’s wife. We can’t change them, as you said. Only God can and He wants to change US first!

    Feeling like we’re the “good” spouse can lead us to start to keep score and keep track of our “points” and what he “owes” us. Not a great thing for a marriage. It’s a partnership, not a competition. Thanks for hosting!

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  6. Amen, Beth! We can’t be the Holy Spirit in someone else’s wife. We can’t change them, as you said. Only God can and He wants to change US first!Feeling like we’re the “good” spouse can lead us to start to keep score and keep track of our “points” and what he “owes” us. Not a great thing for a marriage. It’s a partnership, not a competition. Thanks for hosting!

    Like

  7. I love Isaiah 40:31, it has deep perspective & encouragement for life and marriage. it’s true that ‘hope deferred can make a heart grow faint’ (or feel martyr-like!). But He’ll always lift us and bring us around when we make Him our strength and refuge. He’ll find a way to get our attention!

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  8. Ahh….so convicting…

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  9. Ahh….so convicting…

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  10. It’s an important line between being godly and being self-righteous, isn’t it? And self-righteousness always gives us such a skewed perspective. Sounds advice, as always, Beth. Thanks for these reminders/cautions.

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  11. It’s an important line between being godly and being self-righteous, isn’t it? And self-righteousness always gives us such a skewed perspective. Sounds advice, as always, Beth. Thanks for these reminders/cautions.

    Like

  12. To truly see ourselves, our faults, our flaws as worse than the failure of those around us…truly a free concept. Thanks for sharing!

    Megan

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  13. To truly see ourselves, our faults, our flaws as worse than the failure of those around us…truly a free concept. Thanks for sharing!Megan

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  14. “…it was the glare from my “neon-bright halo” that often blinded my husband to any sin he might have committed in our relationship.” I LOVE that!! How powerful!! This is a message for a time such as this. THANK YOU for posting it! I’ve been reading in 1 & 2 Kings, and something just jumped out at me… that when we lay our ALL on the altar, God doesn’t hesitate to bring the fire. Lay your ALL down before the King! We love Messy Marriage over at Intentionally Yours!!

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  15. “…it was the glare from my “neon-bright halo” that often blinded my husband to any sin he might have committed in our relationship.” I LOVE that!! How powerful!! This is a message for a time such as this. THANK YOU for posting it! I’ve been reading in 1 & 2 Kings, and something just jumped out at me… that when we lay our ALL on the altar, God doesn’t hesitate to bring the fire. Lay your ALL down before the King! We love Messy Marriage over at Intentionally Yours!!

    Like

  16. I think many wives (I was one) get an almost-fundamentalist bent going and then, look out, ’cause no one could be holier than thou. Satan knows how to use scripture against God, and I truly believe when we are in this “good spouse” cloud, that’s who’s speaking to us and through us sometimes.

    Terrific topics lately, Beth! Right in line with what I see everywhere. Thank you!

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  17. I think many wives (I was one) get an almost-fundamentalist bent going and then, look out, ’cause no one could be holier than thou. Satan knows how to use scripture against God, and I truly believe when we are in this “good spouse” cloud, that’s who’s speaking to us and through us sometimes. Terrific topics lately, Beth! Right in line with what I see everywhere. Thank you!

    Like

  18. Thanks Beth, for these wise words and the opportunity to link up with you. It’s amazingly easy to begin seeing ourselves as “the good one” in marriage and in other relationships. This post is an excellent “word to the wise” for those who are seeking God’s wisdom.

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  19. Thanks Beth, for these wise words and the opportunity to link up with you. It’s amazingly easy to begin seeing ourselves as “the good one” in marriage and in other relationships. This post is an excellent “word to the wise” for those who are seeking God’s wisdom.

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  20. I know this kinda meant for wives…and I’m kinda breaking in…but I have to say that was really an excellent post. Don’t be the good anything–give it to Christ and let Him make it best…I love it! Alright…I’m outta here 🙂

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  21. Good thoughts, Beth! It seems to me that when we try to be a “good” spouse for the purpose of changing our husbands, it will all fall apart. But when we try to trust in The Lord and live for Him no matter the outcome, God can bless it!

    Thanks for hosting this, Beth!

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  22. Good thoughts, Beth! It seems to me that when we try to be a “good” spouse for the purpose of changing our husbands, it will all fall apart. But when we try to trust in The Lord and live for Him no matter the outcome, God can bless it!Thanks for hosting this, Beth!

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  23. Getting that “I’m the good one” mentality is so dangerous for all of us, I agree, Beth. Pride leads us down treacherous roads. Been there, done that. And I’m sure I still do in ways I’m not always even aware of. Thanks for the reminder to pay closer attention!

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  24. A bit late (really bad days for me), but I hope you’ll enjoy this thoroughly tongue-in-cheek offering.

    Why yes, my dear, I’m perect,
    a prince upon the earth,
    but what else might you expect,
    just short of Virgin Birth?
    My prayers for you are flawless,
    I really have God’s ear,
    and, sometimes, I must confess
    that I shed a tear
    when betimes you do not see
    the sacrifice I’ve made
    in setting first dear you (not me!)
    and I am quite afraid
    that on the days you’re really flawed
    you offend not me, but God.

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  25. It’s so easy to lapse into the victim mentality, friend, complete with pity parties, endless rumination, and woulda, coulda, shouldas.

    Even after 44 years, time and again I need to be on guard. The enemy prowls around, looking for whatever marriages he can destroy.

    Your wisdom is a grace-filled guide.

    Like

  26. […] This is an updated edition of a post originally published on messymarriage.com. […]

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