Even if everything going wrong in your marriage was primarily the fault of your spouse, there is still something for you to learn in the difficulty, a way for you to grow. Healing will never come if you wait for your spouse to take the blame, because you cannot control another person’s actions. You can control only your own actions, and healing will come only when you take ownership before God of your behavior.
Own Your Failures
I have had many a person in my office over the years whose area of expertise seems to be everything their mate does wrong. My counsel to them is always the same: as soon as you are perfect, you can start working on your mate! Now obviously, this is meant to grab their attention and redefine their focus. Couples can and should be agents of change for each other. However, we must understand that none of us have the ministry of running other people down, but we all have the ministry of lifting others up, beginning with our mates. Remember our comment that the words you speak about your mate to your coworkers should create in them an expectation of meeting someone special? That same principle needs to be applied when talking to your mate, not just about them.
Daniel, one of the elite few in Scripture who is described as without fault (Dan. 6:4), gives us a great perspective on not blaming others for the way our life has played out. As righteous as he was, he refused to waste time blaming others for his life. In Daniel 9:4–5, he prayed: “O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands. But we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations” (emphasis added). Although he had been only a boy when carried captive to Babylon and had not contributed to the demise of his people, the righteous Daniel identified himself with sinful Israel. He looked deep within and confessed his shortcomings. If you are one those people for whom everything has gone wrong at the hands of another, learn from Daniel.
Maybe what you’re facing is your fault, and maybe it isn’t. Regardless, the fact remains that owning your failures is the key to freedom and healing—yours, that is. Proclaim with the psalmist, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me for my bones are troubled” (Ps. 6:2, NKJV). When everything in your marriage has gone wrong, refuse to take up the yoke of bitterness for things outside your control. Call out to God for His mercy. Refuse to keep silent about your own sin and shortcomings. Silence about your sin is what creates weary bones. Nursing the wound of a failed marriage or constantly contemplating the pain caused by an unbelieving mate will never free you and bring healing to your life. This is a universal truth that must be grasped.
Allowing the deeds of another to dictate the path and attitude of your life is not the way to handle things when all goes wrong. Does that mean you’re not supposed to hurt, that you’re supposed to move on as though the struggle is nothing more than a bump in the road that will soon be crossed? No, of course not. It does mean, however, that in any given circumstance, even when you have been truly wronged, you take ownership before God of your faults, not waste valuable time playing a blame game in which nobody wins. Remember, the power to be healed and free lies in ownership, not blame.
Excerpt from “Happily… Even After” now available on Amazon.