If you want to avoid the “I married the wrong person” syndrome, you had better learn forgiveness—then practice it early and often, readily, unconditionally, and pre-emptively in the marriage.
Going Deep // Focus: 1 Chronicles 15:29
But as the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David skipping about and laughing with joy, she was filled with contempt for him.
What kills marriages? Was it the wrong choice of a spouse? No, it is likely contempt for the spouse that was chosen. And it is quite likely that it was unforgiven mistakes that allowed the contempt to fester over time and fatally infect the marriage. What a tragedy! A marriage that began with so much promise was brought down by festering contempt—and it could have been prevented with some steady doses of forgiveness along the way.
The story of King David and his wife, Michal, the daughter of the late King Saul, is a cautionary tale of how contempt killed a once thriving relationship. In this account, which spans several books (1 and 2 Samuel) and several years, Michal could never let go of the belief that David had destroyed her father’s dynasty and had contributed to his, and her brothers’ deaths—at least in her mind. David never let go of the fact that Saul had stolen Michal and had given her to another man. (1 Samuel 25) And then we see in this story where Michal’s seething contempt broke the surface toward David, that in response, David held resentment toward Michael for the rest of their marriage—most likely the cause of her barrenness was because David withheld sexual affection from her.
Reality is, you are going to be hurt by your spouse, sometimes intentionally, sometimes accidentally, and sometimes severely. If you hold onto a hurt, the wound festers. It slowly poisons your relationship if you refuse to forgive, and if there is chronic unforgiveness, a barren marriage is guaranteed.
Someone has said that forgiveness is the fragrance of the rose petal that’s left on the heel of the shoe that crushed it. Here is God’s truth for married couples: Forgiveness is the fragrance that gives your marriage a sweet aroma. If you want to avoid the “I married the wrong person” syndrome, you had better learn forgiveness—then practice it early and often, readily, unconditionally, and pre-emptively in the marriage.
You may feel like you have married the wrong person, but the truth is, you have not. There are a few exceptions, but you are probably not one of them. You don’t need a better spouse, you need to be a better spouse. And here’s where you start:
First, accept responsibility for your actions. You cannot control your spouse’s actions and you cannot control your spouse’s attitudes. But you can control yours!
Galatians 6:5 says, “Each person must be responsible for himself.” That means you have to accept responsibility for healing your marriage. You must quit the blame game and take responsibility for your part of the problem, and your part of the solution.
Second, believe your marriage can change. You may be confused, disappointed, and feeling that your marriage is hopeless, but God doesn’t feel that way; he hasn’t given up. The Bible says in Matthew 19, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”
From a human standpoint, you may think your marriage is in the coffin and they are nailing the lid shut, but if you could see it from God’s perspective, you would see nothing but life, health, happiness and fruitfulness, for a long time to come. How you perceive your marriage—either negatively or positively, either through eyes of faith or eyes that see only failure—will have the greatest impact on whether or not you can experience healing and growth. So begin to ask God to give you a new perspective on your spouse and on your marriage.
And third, commit to doing whatever it takes to restore your marriage. Pray, get professional help if you need it, take marriage classes at your church, and most of all, seek—or give—forgiveness. Dig in for a long obedience in the same direction, even if you don’t feel like it, and see how God will change your marriage—and you—in the process.
Great marriages just don’t happen; it takes real and sustained effort. Galatians 6:9 says, “So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.”
What Paul is saying is do the right thing whether you feel like it or not, and God will bless your obedience. Good feelings eventually follow faithful action. It’s easier to act your way into a feeling than to feel your way into an action. If you wait for the feeling to come to start being nice to your spouse, it isn’t going to come. Make the choice to obey God, because according to Philippians 2:13, “God who is at work within you will give you the will and the power to achieve His purpose.” That is God’s promise to you! Philippians 4:13 exhorts, “For I can do everything [that means even to love again somebody that I have come to hate] with the help of Christ who gives me the strength that I need.”
The truth is, maybe you married a lousy person, but don’t give up without giving God his rightful chance to bring healing and health to your home. And giving God a chance is your choice!