To answer this question you must first realize that God did not call you to change your spouse.
God called you to change your attitude, your behavior, and your efforts in order to love them despite their weaknesses.
I have seen so many people who hit rough patches in their relationship and instead of changing anything within themselves, they change their spouse – quite literally. But, if a light bulb goes out in your house you don’t change houses you simply replace the light bulb.
I want you to know that God doesn’t want you to change your spouse when things get hard. God wants you to change. Changing somebody is really God’s job; it’s the work of the Holy Spirit to transform the hearts of people.
Our responsibility is to obey the Holy Spirit and to obey the Holy Scriptures.
We are told, “husbands love your wives” and “wives respect your husbands” in the book of Ephesians. There is a powerful dynamic that takes place when you obey what God tells you to do. God begins to do miracles.
As we obey God, He’ll do the miracle of changing us first, then He’ll begin to transform the heart of our spouse.
The question you should be asking instead is:
“How can I begin to see a change in my spouse?
Here are five practical things that you can do today to see a change in your spouse.
1. Watch Your Reactions, In Spite Of Their Actions
Sometimes God allows our spouse to act in a particular way because we have a habit of reacting in a certain way that God wants to deal with. We often blame our spouse and never deal with the real issue – our own behavior.
Now, I understand we want to excuse our reactions. We say, “if my spouse would stop behaving like this, I would stop reacting like this!” But my friend, the reason why you are reacting like that is because you’re showing your true character – God wants to change that. To provoke a change, God has to allow your spouse to provoke those reactions within you so that you can see them face-to-face, repent, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you.
I love what Jesus says in Matthew 7:3, “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother (spouse), “Let me remove the speck from your eye’, and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First, remove the plank from your own eye and then you will see clearly how to remove the speck from your brother’s (spouse) eye.”
Take responsibility for your reactions; take responsibility for your attitude.
NEGATIVE REACTIONS TO ACTIONS:
- Easily angered
- Extremely Irritatable
- Easily Offended
- Shutting Down
Your spouse won’t change their actions if you do not take responsibility for your reactions.
The moment negative, toxic feelings surface, take a second and release those emotions to the Holy Spirit. Ask Him, “Holy Spirit how should I respond in this situation?”
If you keep reacting to their mistakes, you are going to destroy your marriage. But if you ask the Holy Spirit how to respond in that situation, expect to see a change in your spouse.
Instead of reacting, release the emotion to the Holy Spirit and then allow the Holy Spirit to help you respond in that exact situation.
After you begin to do this you’ll notice a difference in your relationship.
Your spouse will be shocked! They’ll be surprised at the contrast between the old, vengeful you, and the new, patient and considerate version.
It’s going to create a domino effect within your marriage.
2. Develop Self-Control
Avoid controlling your spouse.
Nowhere in Scripture do we find where God assigns you to be the Holy Spirit to your spouse. You cannot grow a flower by pulling the flower from the flower bed.
You have to water the flower.
If you want to see your spouse change, you must allow your spouse to grow.
Self-control is a fruit that must be developed in intimacy with the Holy Spirit.
“Spouse-control” is the fruit of witchcraft. Always remember that.
When you seek to control another person that is witchcraft! That’s what divination is and what the enemy’s kingdom is all about. The Kingdom of our Lord is the Kingdom of the Holy Spirit and the fruit of that is self-control.
No matter what the other person does, God did not call you to change them.
Your words can grow your spouse or destroy your spouse.
Jesus doesn’t curse us or beat us with His words. He washes, cleanses, and purifies us (Ephesians 5:26-27).
Are you doing that with your spouse?Are you doing that to your husband or wife? Or are you constantly cursing them?
“You never do this”
“you always do this”
“you know you’re such a bad husband.”
You’re destroying your marriage with your own mouth because you have not allowed the Holy Spirit to produce self-control. Instead, we oftentimes exercise “spouse-control,” not realizing we are letting the enemy run our marriage through witchcraft.
Intimidation, domination, and manipulation are all signs of witchcraft. Self-control, long-suffering, patience are the signs of the Spirit-filled life.
3. The Way of Jesus = The Way Of The Cross
Marriage does not mean suffering.
Under no circumstances do I want to present marriage as a prison sentence or as a “cross to bear.”
Marriage is going to make you holy before it is going to make you happy.
If you are not happy right now, God is working on your holiness.
God wants you to follow Jesus Christ in your marriage. Matthew 16:26 says, ”Whoever desires to follow me must deny himself.” So you see, marriage is not just about you. It is about Christ developing His character within you. God is going to use your marriage to achieve His goal.
Do you know what His goal is? Discipleship and Sanctification.
People often look at marriage and think it’ll produce happiness. God looks at marriage and wants it to produce disciples. However, things often fall short of that. The moment it’s time for us to deny ourselves, we quit.
Instead we claim: “You owe me this! You’re not giving me this. She’s not wanting sex! He’s not giving me money! Where are my hugs? Where are my flowers? Where is my honor?”
We begin to go fall into entitlement instead of walking into discipleship. See your marriage as a laboratory for discipleship. God is after you to make a disciple out of you.
4. Love God More Than You Love Them
One of the ways that people learn to love even when the other person does not deserve it is through this:
They learn to respect their spouse when their spouse is not deserving of their respect.
They begin to honor God and obey Jesus in that particular situation.
You do not love a person because they’re lovable. You love them because you are loving.
Why are you loving? Because you are obedient to Jesus Christ.
The prophet Malachi (Malachi 2:14-15) was against people who were dealing with their spouses treacherously and not caring for them. In order to change that type of attitude, you must have the perspective that says, I love God more than I love my spouse.
One of the things my wife prayed for before she was married to me, was for a husband that would love God more than he would love her.
I always remind my wife – “My commitment to Jesus is greater than my commitment to you. The only reason why our commitment toward each other is so strong is because our commitment towards the Lord is stronger.”
If you are noticing the commitment to your spouse, or your affection is weakening, I want to ask you a question:
How is your commitment to Jesus?
5. Trust God For Your Needs
Trust God to meet your needs just as you trust God to meet the needs of your spouse.
Maybe you’ve hit a rough patch and it’s been months since your needs have been met, or maybe you feel unloved. It can be a very painful place to be. It is important not to see marriage as a place where it is all about you but also about the other person. It’s really why you entered into the marriage.
It’s all about the other person.
So what do you do if you’re making it about the other person, but it feels like you’re being ignored?
Take your needs and you turn them to the Lord.
I am not saying that God is going to physically come and hug you then give you flowers. If you are a male, I’m not saying God is going to physically satisfy your sexual needs. What I am saying is that He will give you the strength to look to Him as your source of fulfillment.
If marriage is going to teach us one thing it is this: It is about God; it is about the other person; and then, it is about us.
Marriage is like joy.
Joy stands for:
- Jesus first
- Other second
- You last.
The moment you make yourself first or the center of that relationship regarding your needs or your wants, you’ll miss what love is.
Love is about sacrifice. It is about giving to and valuing the other person. When you begin to exhibit that love, your relationship will be revived. Even if your needs are not fully met, you will be a great testimony and an example of the love of God in that relationship.
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Read More On Marriage:
- Married But Suffering
- Can Christians Divorce & Remarry?
- Ministry While Married
- “How Can I Change My Spouse?”
- Can Your Marriage Be Blessed If You’re Not A Virgin?
- Dating: How to Find a Spouse, Using Shoes