Consumed with Making My Spouse Perfect

Back some 25 years ago, I didn’t marry the man that I now call my husband. No, I haven’t gotten a divorce and remarried a different man. I simply married the man I believed would change to suit my preferences and ideals. In hindsight, I can clearly see that was the …

Wrong Approach! 

StephenLitwin4.400BlockIStreet.NW.WDC.23October2005 
I have to confess, I’m slow learner

You see, the more I tried to mold my husband into the man I thought he should be, the more he resented and resisted me—which in turn, made me resent and resist who he really was. So I figured that I just needed to try a little harder (Remember, slow learner). I would just come at him from a “different” angle, to get him to see things my way

Wrong-er Approach!! Ugh!!

I had become consumed with trying to make my spouse into the perfect husband that I’d dreamed he would be one day … after I got through with him. (Ouch!)

  • If he asked me to do something his way instead of mine, I would think, My perfect husband would’ve given me the opportunity to weigh in and ultimately call the shots, because he ‘loves me like Christ loves the church.’
  • If he spent too much time at work or socializing with his friends, I would think, The perfect husband would desire me above his other pursuits, putting me as his sole focus at all times! He would never deviate to watch the game with his buddies, when he could be cuddling with me on the couch while we watch, The Sound of Music. (Yeah, hope springs eternal!)
  • If he lost his temper, I would think to myself, My dream husband would never have lost his cool with me, his precious wife! He would instantly turn to God, humbly ask for Christ’s ‘peace that passes all understanding!’ And then a heavenly glow would emanate from his face. (You know, like the Shekinah glory Moses experienced.) And I would turn to him and say … “You had me at hello.”

Suffice it to say, I was rather idealized in my thinking way back when I was first married.  

Worst of all, I didn’t see it.

All I saw was that my husband was not willing to allow me to chip away at his imperfections. After all, wasn’t Eve called to be Adam’s “helpmate?”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that a spouse should never encourage, challenge or influence his or her spouse to healthier and holier actions. But I am saying that we need to continually take a close look at our motives whenever we want to change our spouse.

Over time, God began to convict me that in rejecting my husband’s humanity—his need for grace—I was not chipping away at him with a sculptor’s chisel—I was blasting him with the sledgehammer of disrespect. 

Now, let me just say, it’s super easy for me to see that I was consumed with my spouse’s perfection way back then. But not so easy to see when it subtly worms its way back into my desires and thoughts now. I guess what I’m hoping we ALL see is that …

If we ever hope to have marriages that reflect Christ’s heart, then we have to daily, minute by minute, accept our spouse’s imperfections and forgive our spouse’s sins. Anything less than that is just … perfectly wrong.  

Photo credit by Elvert Barnes (Flickr)

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  • You have hit a tender spot with me. My heart goes out to you. I have been so blessed as to have never gone down this particular path. I have watched women do so, and it breaks my heart to see the rift it causes in marriages.

    I never understood this behavior. Thanks for giving me greater understanding today!

  • Excellent advice once again, Beth. All I have to do is look at my OWN imperfections and realize how dependent upon God’s grace I am to change even me; I certainly can’t be in the business of trying to change anyone else.

  • JosephPote

    Beth, I just love your posts!

    Always down-to-earth and practical. Always something that anyone who has ever been married can relate to.

    Thank you, so much!

  • Ro elliott

    wise…wise words here…oh we woman…we are slow. the things early on in our marriage I thought should be changed in my husband…are some of the things I now treasure the most. great post…blessings~

  • Heather C

    Nice post. I think that we sometimes forget God knows what we need and that what we want, even changes in our spouse, is not always for the best.

  • messymarriage

    I think it all boils down to pride, Kim. I think “my way” of doing something is superior to my husband’s. It’s a lie that I didn’t recognize so much when I was young, but I see it in the lives of so many young wives now too. It made me want to bring my own old “skeleton” out of the closet. Hmm, and it’s not even Halloween yet! haha! Thanks as always for coming by and encouraging me!

  • messymarriage

    Yes, Lisa, that’s truly what it all boils down to–when we look at our imperfections in the light of Christ’s sinless life and sacrifice, our hearts should break for what we do to our spouse’s. That’s the kind of heart I want–even if I fail sometimes. Thanks so much for your encouraging words, friend!

  • messymarriage

    Awww, thanks so much for saying, Joe. Your words are a great encouragement to me here. I always enjoy your posts as well–very thought-provoking and spiritually challenging. 🙂

  • messymarriage

    You bring up a very good point, Ro. I, too, see that many of the things I want to change come from areas of my husband’s life that are also very attractive to me. I guess, sometimes my fault is seeing my cup as half empty! But thankfully, God is working overtime on that area or my heart and life lately! Thanks so much for your sweet words!

  • messymarriage

    Yes, that’s true, Heather. Sometimes it is the tension or “rub” that God wants to use in our lives to bring about a change in us instead of our spouses. Great insight and thanks so much for your encouragement. 🙂

  • bluecottonmemory

    Becoming one is not an easy challenge – I think it takes time – learning how to love unconditionally, learn how to do all that. You describe it perfectly. I think now my husband and I try to help each other be the best we can be, to grow to all God has planned for us, instead of reshaping each other into our limited visions. Way to tackle the tough stuff!

  • messymarriage

    I just love how my readers/commenters can bring out these additional insights from the post. It’s so true that this process is a description of “becoming one”–unifying in love, belonging and acceptance. So many couples don’t like this painful or sacrificial part of marriage and miss out on the blessings that it yields. Thanks so much for coming by and adding a new perspective, friend!