As you embark on the journey to build a great marriage or relationship, you must be careful not to tear down (with your own hands, so to speak) what you are trying to build.
It is one thing to protect your marriage from outside forces, over which you have little control; but it is quite another thing to protect your marriage from ‘inward’ mindsets, attitude and behaviour, over which you do have substantial control.
Over the next 5 weeks, I want to highlight ten relationship killers or ‘inner enemies’ of a strong marriage relationship. I call them ‘inner’ enemies because they come from deep within us and are products of our thought patterns, our fears, our values, our insecurities, and even our upbringing. I call them ‘relationship killers’ because they strangle our relationships of emotional oxygen and deprive us of the beautiful life we were destined to enjoy.
The first relationship killer is:
The Urge To Control Or Change Your Spouse
Human beings were never created to be controlled. We were created to rule, govern and display dominion over the works of God’s Hands. We were put on this earth to grow. That’s why two-year-old kids start to rebel against all forms of control, as soon as they start thinking for themselves. As we grow older, we get even more spiteful and aggressive towards any hints of domination. Again, that’s why controlling relationships are never healthy.
God intentionally created us to be different and to prefer different things, so that when we come together in marriage, there would be variety. God designed us to function like the ivory and ebony keys on a grand piano. The keys are very different in colour and tune, but together they produce angelic music at the hands of a Master Pianist.
Therefore, one way to grow a great relationship with someone very different from you is to get excited about their uniqueness (who they are and what they like) and decide to be happy for them and for the variety they bring to the relationship.
For instance, my wife loves romantic and tender family friendly films. I like action-packed, car-chasing, building-exploding, machine-gun blasting blockbusters. Happily, I learnt early in my marriage that I was not going to change my wife’s film preference and she was not going to change mine.
So, instead of trying to change each other or allowing our difference to separate us, we learnt to be selfless. I learnt to enjoy (what I called) ‘girly’ films with my wife – so that we could be together; and she learnt to share in my adrenalin producing movies.
Changing what you do is the key to changing what others do; since they often take their cue from you ― The Eagle Prince.
Controlling your spouse or trying to force him/her to do what you want is demeaning and humiliating. Your spouse may put up with it for a while to keep the peace, but lasting joy and satisfaction will evaporate under the scotching heat of ‘control’.
Kill the urge to change or control your spouse before it kills your marriage. Except your spouse is doing something morally wrong or abusive to you, you have no right to try to change him/her. Just because something is different doesn’t make it wrong.
Your relationship will blossom and flourish when your goal is to please and pleasure your partner. But to do that you must understand that being controlling is always counter-productive; and being selfless is always better.
When you change what you do, your spouse will have no choice but to change what he/she does. That's what I call the law of reciprocals.
“Do nothing from selfishness or pride, but in humility count others better than yourself. (Philippians 2:3.)
An ordinary journey becomes extraordinary, when it is taken with the right person ― Tony Peters.
The second relationship killer is:
The Need To Be Right, At Any Cost
Your marriage will be toxic if you are always out to win the argument or be ‘right’. That’s because you will continue to bruise your partner’s ego by insisting that he/she is always wrong. After all, if you are always ‘right’, your spouse, of necessity, must always be wrong.
If you keep doing this, what your spouse is constantly hearing is: “You are dumb”, “You are unintelligent”, “You are thick”, and “We are not in the same league”. Even if you are actually wiser or more intelligent, you must go out of your way to help your spouse see that he/she is not totally clueless or without a brain. Anything less is prideful and deadly to the marriage.
“Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honour.” (Proverbs 29:23.)
In fact, if you really love your spouse, you would be looking for ways to elevate him/her, because your spouse, in the final analysis, is a reflection on you. Yes, your spouse is a reflection on you. After all, you chose, courted, and married this ‘dumb’ person.
If you keep projecting stupidity onto your spouse, you must be ‘stupid’ too for marrying him/her. Were you blind? Were you gagged? Did someone hold a gun to your head? I don’t think so. My point is that your spouse is not what you are making him/her out to be.
Give your spouse’s ideas a chance to succeed. Give him/her credit for some of the things they bring to the table. Don’t sabotage good ideas to score points. Don’t shut your spouse up because you are not in agreement with his/her ideas or because you feel yours are better. Don’t shut your spouse down because you always want to be ‘right’.
Learn to be charitable enough to boost your spouse’s confidence; by adopting his/her ideas and making them work. You can’t do this if you are always right, or if you take all the decisions, or if you always insist on doing things your way.
If your reason is right but your attitude or actions are wrong, your reason doesn’t count any more ― Tony Peters
Which is better: To be ‘right’ and miserable or to share in decision-making and be united? An unhappy marriage and an insecure spouse is too great a price to pay for being ‘right’. If being ‘right’ is really right, it should lead to good things. If it’s not, it’s not really right.
So, kill the need to be right at any cost and you’d be surprised at how right your spouse can be, if you put the effort you put into being ‘right’, into making sure that your spouse is secure and right too. If you understand the marriage vows you took, you will understand that it is your duty to build your spouse up, not to tear him/her down.
(To understand your marriage vows better, you may want to read another one of my Rock Solid Marriage Series books on Smashword.com or Amazon.com titled: Understand Your Marriage Vows – What the Marriage Vows Mean and How to Honour Them.
Bottom line: The need to be ‘right’ at any cost is the Achilles heel of proud people. And, we know that pride comes before a fall... (Watch out for Part 2 next week.)