Waiting on Your Mate to Change? And WW Linkup

Self-ExaminationAre you feeling like you’re tired of beating your head against a wall because your mate never changes?

Does your spouse continue to deny the glaring issues that you see in his or her character and choices?

Do you fear that if your mate doesn’t wake up soon your love and marriage may not survive?

Maybe you wanted to scoff at the “couple connection challenge” that I shared recently, because you feel it is useless and hurtful to try anymore with your spouse.

If those questions and descriptions fit you, then you’ve probably been trying for far too long to change your mate or calm the storm in your marriage, so that your marriage will improve or at least become less painful. But before you throw in the towel, consider going on a “Plank Hunt.”*

What do I mean by a “Plank Hunt?”

I’ll let Jesus’ words describe what I’m talking about …

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? … first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly …” ~Matthew 7:3-5 (NIV)

[Tweet “It’s easy and, sadly, quite enjoyable to go on “Speck Hunt” in marriage. “]

[Tweet “The real challenge is to go on a “Plank Hunt!” That’s the true game-changer in marriage.”]

Back in the spring and early summer, I did a series on how to create a confessional culture in marriage. This involves a commitment to be humble and vulnerable—freely admitting our sins and failures consistently in our marriages.

However, over time, I began to realize that people might not know how to identify the weak areas in their hearts and lives, as well as, some not being able to even see those weaknesses clearly without some level of denial or blindness blocking their view. This is especially true in marriages where the hurts run deep and/or the “ghosts” from painful childhoods still haunt the walking wounded.

I want to offer exercises and practical steps for overcoming that inability or even that lack of desire to “Plank Hunt.” So in the days and perhaps weeks to come, I will be unpacking how to gain greater self-awareness and clarity on your sins, weaknesses and character flaws—something we all can use in life and marriage.

If you take this journey it will not be an easy or comfortable one for you—and has never been necessarily “enjoyable” per se for me either. But I can tell you that once I’ve accepted the discomfort of the process, it has been so freeing and worth every bit of pain I’ve experienced in the examination and healing process.

It has enriched my life by deepening my relationship with God, my spouse, as well as, all of my other relationships.

*Additional Thought: I want to say that I realize there is a small percentage of you who have already done a “Plank Hunt” for quite some time, and it has not resulted in your marriage improving significantly. If that’s the case, then it probably means you must begin the process of confronting your mate and setting hard boundaries with the help of accountability and support like a counselor. I’ll eventually be dealing with this stage and step near the end of this series. So, in the meantime, I hope you’ll stick around because there’s always something we can learn and improve about ourselves when we go on a “Plank Hunt.”

[Tweet “Hi-ho-hi-ho, it’s off to “Plank Hunt” we go! #plankhunt”]

What has hindered your willingness to face your own character flaws in your marriage?


What have been some of the character flaws you’ve discovered while “Plank Hunting”?


I’m excited to have a post highlighted over at To Love, Honor and Vacuum, The Happiness Reality Check. I hope you’ll “check” it out! 😉

I hope you’ll come back next week, when I’ll be sharing some of the character flaws that I have discovered on many-a-“Plank Hunt” and which ones still pop up and block my view on a regular basis. 😉

Joining with my friends at Giving Up on Perfect, Wifey Wednesday, A Little R & R Wednesdays, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Coffee and Conversation, and Wholehearted Wednesday.

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Add any links that are uplifting, helpful and encouraging to our spiritual lives, marriages and families!

Messy Marriage

Find our other WW buttons and guidelines here.

Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to visit every blog that links up here, but I do try to visit the blogs of those who comment here. Most importantly, know that you all matter and provide great resources for this linkup!

  • I love the idea of a plank hunt and can’t wait to read more in the coming weeks. Thanks also, Beth, for the linkup.

    • Thanks, Judith! I do hope you’ll come back around as I unpack more of this challenge–that’s a huge challenge for myself as well. 😉

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    There’s an interesting bit of serendipity here…I was thinking about this topic a bit, and even discussed it briefly with my wife (which does not happen often).

    I courted and married in hope; the hope that I could somehow be someone and something different from what I was.

    It didn’t work. God made me an instrument to be stored in a sort of box marked “Open Only In Case Of War”. I thought I could find a place in the world, and I thought that marriage would help. I was wrong, and I did my wife a disservice. I was a sham; a smiling mask over the visage of a grim operator, with little time for tenderness, and none for humour.

    Now, dying, I am grateful that she’s chosen to endure this – I would be lost without her. But she deserved better.

    All the things about her I wished she would change…those were simply reactions that were hard-wired into me. I was the problem, all along.

    Could I have changed? I doubt it. Good operators are born, and then refined; both nature and nurture are in play, and the result is something both more and less than human. It’s a matter of ‘kind’, not degree.

    It’s an interesting valedictory to a life, the meaning of which shimmers and fades on the edge of understanding as I seek it.


    • You’re treading into PTSD territory, I’d say, Andrew. I’m sure that war changed you and so many others in ways that we cannot fathom unless we’ve experienced it ourselves. Your words at your blog, however, are a sweet love letter to your wife. You constantly admit to her and others how hard you sometimes have made life for her. Most of this is due to your illness, but I see much confession and “plank-hunting” going on as you process and unpack. Thank you for your authenticity, as well as, encouragement to me here in this space.

  • JosephPote

    I think a plank hunt is always a worthwhile endeavor and usually successful…whether or not it changes any relationships other than with God. And the Holy Spirit is always faithful to help shine the light of God’s truth into all the nooks and crannies of our hearts.

    You know my comment to your post the other day about traveling two hours both ways once a week for counseling? The funny thing is that marriage ultimately ended in divorce, and yet I still count the counseling has having been very worthwhile. Why? Because of what I learned about me…and about my relationship with God.

    Thank you, Beth!

    • You bring up a good point, Joe. Sometimes the plank hunt simply improves our relationship with God and not so much with our mate. Although when we are leaning into the Lord, I think we all benefit.

      I figured that you were referring to the counseling you’d done with your first marriage, Joe. I know you worked so very hard on that relationship and that is why it was so heartbreaking for you, I’m sure, when divorced was where you found yourself. I’m sure all of that counseling and self-improvement has served your current marriage very well. It’s always a good decision in my book! Thanks for your encouragement, my friend!

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  • Mary Flaherty

    You know, I often don’t notice the plank in my eye until my mouth shows it to me. As soon as I open my mouth and say something mean, spiteful, or…my favorite…the under-the-breath-but-loud-enough-to hear mumbling…”Why is it all sticky on the counter? (Exasperated and very loud sigh) I’m CONSTANTLY cleaning this counter. How can he not tell it’s sticky? Ugh…” On and on it goes. And then suddenly, “Ouch! Something’s in my eye!” Yeah, your foot, dummy. You missed your mouth because it was busy spewing sewage! Oh, Beth, this is great. As Joyce Meyer likes to say…”Ouch! Hallelujah!”

    • Yes, I hear you, Mary and feel your pain! I’m often opening my mouth and inserting my foot before I can spot that plank that’s protruding from my eye. What a sight we would be if all of those “metaphors” were tangible troubles! 😉 And I’ll be joining you and every one else who goes on this plank hunt with me – “Ouch! Hallelujah!” It’s a good pain where we all gain!

  • Michael and I talk about this often to remind ourselves that we can only change and work on ourself. Love how you called it Plank Hunt. And when we focus on obeying Jesus and following His commands it gets easier and easier to see our own dirtiness. Thanks for another always good commentary on marriage, my friend. And…please say a pray for us. In SIX DAYS we are flying off to Seattle to spend a week with my son and his gf…Haven’t seen them in a year. Sign me #ExcitedMama #HappyMama #ThankfulMama And both of them have recently opened their hearts to JESUS!!! So I think this will be a VERY BLESSED week, thank you Dad!! xxoo

    • Yes, Sheila, Jesus truly makes “plank hunting” possible and less painful. Great point to make! And I am so excited for you! First of all, congratulations on your son’s spiritual decisions! What a relief for you and blessing for all involved! And I bet that will make this fun trip to Seattle all the sweeter! I will be praying for you and Michael as you head that way. In fact, you may be flying out today, since I’ve been slow to reply in this space. Take lots of photos and “take us along” on your grand vacation, my friend! #celebratingwithSheilaandMichael

  • Mary

    Love your way of teaching us through a little humor. As you described your plank hunt, it made me think that this could solve so much in how we approach relationships in our world today. We immediately come into the relationship with the attitude or thought that we are right no matter what. How we get along with others is determined by this as well as whether we even choose to talk or get to know certain kinds of people. This helped me to think outside the box today. So glad to be able to come to see you every Wednesday.

    • If there’s anything that I hope people glean from Messy Marriage, Mary, it’s to take responsibility for the changes they can and need to make in their lives and marriages. That’s the most powerful tool, I believe, God uses in bringing healing to our marriages. I’m so glad this has stretched your thinking, although you are already so wise. I bet you’re thinking is a lot more “stretchy” than you give yourself credit for. But then, humility is one of those “planks” I’m going to be focusing on in the weeks to come. So you’ve already got a head start on the rest of us, my friend!

  • Sandra Zimmerman

    I found your blog through A Little R & R linky party, God bless you for sharing and teaching!

    • Thanks, Pat. I really appreciate how Sheila includes so many smaller bloggers and writers to help give them a boost in traffic. She’s a sweetheart!

      I do hope that you’ll weather the challenge of plank hunting with me, Pat. It might be kind of painful for the two of us, but it will be so worth it! I promise!

  • Congratulations on the interview on Sheila’s blog – she does a great job over there, and I’m sure her readers will be blessed by your thoughts 🙂

    Ugh…it may be a little hard to “thank you” for your post here, tho, since you nailed me on needing to go on a plank hunt…but it needed to be said!

    Thanks again for hosting…and hope you have a terrific weekend!

  • bluecottonmemory

    So many good things happened when I went plank hunting. My husband has to remind me at times, though, not to take all the blame – which I am prone to do. I so agree when you wrote, “This is especially true in marriages where the hurts run deep and/or the “ghosts” from painful childhoods still haunt the walking wounded”! I was one of those walking wounded – with a lot of ideas that needed throwing out, reshaping – and lots of expectation changes:) What an encouraging post you’ve written about evaluating our weaknesses!!! You infuse your posts with so much grace!

    • Yes, I’d say I have been one of those “walking wounded” as well, Maryleigh. Some of it makes me like you, where I take on too much of the responsibility, and some of it makes me quick to blame my hubby for things I’m still bitter over from my past. I didn’t have the greatest relationship with my dad, so that’s played into my messy marriage issues. And my mom, though I felt closer to her, was something of a loose canon who could spike into raging at the drop of a hat. Did I also mention I’m a preacher’s kid? 😉 Yep, even those minister’s families are often a “hot mess!” Thanks for your encouragement to me and your vulnerable sharing in this space, my friend!

  • Yeah, the times I’ve searched for those planks had better results than trying to find the faults with my husband – every time. Remembering to be intentional about doing that can be hard, especially when caught up in the heat of the moment. In my study yesterday, I had to look up the word ‘murmur’ in the Interlinear of the Blue Letter Bible site. It meant basically dwelling in complaining. I guess when we are searching for those specks in our husbands, we are essentially dwelling in a spirit of complaint. That’s just not a nice place to be. I will be praying for you to offer words of wisdom in this series – especially when you get to the end where you address those very difficult marriages. And I will be praying for those marriages. Thank you Beth for what you are doing here.

    • Good point, Aimee. The results truly are always better when we focus on the “planks” in our own lives. I also love your insight about “murmuring.” Yes, we are complaining about our mates when we focus on their faults before dealing with our own. I do think that we can deal with a “complaint” we have in our mate, after we’ve fully and humbly dealt with our own planks. That’s not really giving in to a spirit of murmuring in my view. It’s caring enough about the relationship to confront in love. But that’s almost always way down the road from where we are at any given moment. We can’t zoom there without slowly going through the process of “plank hunting” first! Thank you for your kind words to me, my friend!

  • I keep saying it, it is a wrong attitude to grieve over our spouse refusing to change. We should realize that we don’t have the power to change anybody. Moreover, quite often we are the one that need to change and not our partner and it is selfishness to think that the problem is from our partner while as we are the problem.

    Of a truth, instead of looking upon our spouse to change, we should work on yourself to change or attitude, actions and reactions about your spouse. If you succeed in changing, you will observe that your spouse have changed without his or her knowing it.

    • You’re so right, Vinco. Trying to change our spouse is not only “not possible” but an exercise in frustration. And selfishness is another one of those “planks” I’ll be unpacking and discussing back here in this series. I hope you’ll keep coming back, my friend!

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  • This is a great article. I think that so many people want the other person to change, but don’t see how they are contributing to the problems in their marriage. It is so important to see your own actions before giving up.

    • You are so right, Keelie. It’s the most powerful tool we have to improve not just our marriages but our lives. I’m not saying it will necessarily make all your troubles go away, but it sure will improve your perspective, attitude and contribution to any given situation. It’s totally worth the pain and effort it requires! I hope you’ll join me this week as I post more in this series starting tonight! Thanks for coming by, my friend. Nice to meet ya!

  • Ohhhh, this is one I remind myself often. “I can only change myself. I can only change myself. I can only change myself…” Yep, I have to say it over and over! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this and linking up to Works for Me Wednesday!