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.
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.
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.
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?
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