Robert has joined me as a co-contributor here at Encourage Your Spouse, adding his male viewpoint to encouragement. I vividly remember that all day event with Dr. Gary Chapman – along with a few hundred other couples, from newly weds to married more than fifty years. Oh, did we all laugh at Dr. Chapman’s stories. Some of them hit pretty close to home for Robert and me. (and from the side-glances and smirks we saw, it had an impact on others, also.) I wonder if you’ll smile too?
Certain facts are easily accepted in life.
The sun comes up every morning. Babies cry when they’re hungry. It’s just the way God made things.
But when it comes to our relationships with our spouse – our willingness to accept things the way they are quickly disappears.
Consider these common spousal complaints:
- Why do I feel like I have to ask for a hug to get one?
- Why do I always have to bug my wife to put her laundry away?
- Why can’t my husband put the toilet seat down when he’s done?
- Why does it feel like I always have to beg to go out for dinner?
- Why don’t I ever get a gift for my birthday?
If you’ve been married for even a short while, you’ll likely recognize that your spouse has certain traits that kind of irritate you. And yes, maybe those few irritants have reached a point of really annoying you.
You’ve tried. You’ve asked kindly, pleaded, demanded, and even threatened, “encouraging” your spouse to change. And maybe you saw a change for a short time, (because your spouse really has a good heart) before they reverted back to old habits.
What are you supposed to do?
When an issue is so major that it needs to be addressed, you have three choices:
- You can choose to remove yourself from the problem.
- You can choose to remove your spouse from the problem.
- You can choose to accept the current reality and learn to adapt.
The first two options are radical, particularly in marriage. (However, sometimes they are quite legitimate.)
If you are in an abusive relationship, then removing yourself is the best option. If you continue to be stalked by an abusive spouse, then reporting them to the authorities to be removed is important.
But in most marriages, the big issues often start as trivial and become huge because we allow them to.
A number of years ago, my wife, Lori, and I attended an all-day marriage workshop with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, and many other books.
It was one of the best workshops we’ve ever been privileged to attend.
At this event, Dr. Chapman described how his wife had the habit of leaving cupboard doors and drawers open after taking something out.
And he’d bang into them, which made him furious. This became “the issue” for him in the early years of their marriage.
So what did he do?
He tried asking his wife to change – nicely. He tried asking firmly. He even tried threatening. And while some change occurred, it was always short-lived.
In the end, he came to the conclusion that if he wanted to make his marriage work, then closing doors and drawers was to become “his” responsibility. He even calculated how much time it would take for him to close all doors and drawers – it turned out to be about an hour over an entire year.
Dr. Chapman felt his marriage was worth an hour of his time.
He had discovered the value of acceptance. No conditions or prerequisites, just acceptance.
The Value of Acceptance
As a differentiating value,
Acceptance means approved or compelling recognition; believable as true.
The secret to this powerful value is to embrace it within you.
Acceptance cannot be earned – it is given without condition or prerequisite. (tweet this)
Consider the three different parts of acceptance:
Accept that God has already approved your spouse, for you. No special conditions required.
2. Compelling Recognition.
Can you recognize your spouse’s God-given strengths, and overlook their weaknesses? Are you compelled to tell others about what your spouse is really good at? Accept that both strengths and weaknesses go together, into this person you call your wife or husband.
3. Believable as True.
When your spouse tells you something, don’t challenge it. If they believe something is true, accept that they believe its true.
Embracing Acceptance in Your Marriage
When you embrace the value of acceptance, you build trust and confidence into your marriage. (tweet this)
Yes, issues will arise.
But now you can tackle them together as a team, because you’re accepting your spouse just as they are.
In what areas can you embrace the value of acceptance, and thereby improving your marriage?