Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:4-6 (ESV)
A few days ago while reading this passage I was struck by that word. Reasonable.
As Christians, we are called to be reasonable. Yet, in marriage, we are often unreasonable. Let’s just be honest. We expect and demand a lot more from our spouse than we do from our friends, children, or even our parents. We often have ample amounts of grace and excuses for others’ shortcomings, but when it comes to our partner for life — we expect more. Often, too much. (I know I do sometimes!)
Are you being reasonable in marriage or is your relationship characterized by unreasonableness? Take a look at some of the most common ways we can be unreasonable below:
Expecting Men to Be Mind Readers
Oh, I was so bad at this. The number of times I told my husband, “You should just know!” embarrasses me now. Then, I would follow that statement with the silent treatment–as if being quiet while shooting him an icy stare would help him figure out my deepest heart’s desires.
Repeat after me: My man cannot read my mind.
I know you read that. But some of you still don’t believe it. It’s terribly unromantic to think that a man may expect us to TELL him what we want. And, yet. . .
I watch arguments between couples all the time where the man says “Just tell me what you would like?” And the woman rolls her eyes, gets angry, and refuses.
Friends, this is ridiculous. Your husband can’t read your mind. He just can’t. Don’t try to make him the bad guy because he doesn’t have this super power.
If you want him to bring something home for dinner. Say these words, “Hey, would you please bring something home for dinner?”
If you have something specific in mind for your birthday. Say these words, “Hey, I’d really like to do this thing on my birthday, and if you got me this other thing I’ve been wanting, that would make it a great day.”
If you need him to help you clean the house because company will arrive any minute. Try this statement, “Honey, could you please pick up the kids toys upstairs so I can vacuum?” Or, “Honey, I really need you to help me do these dishes while I straighten the family room.”
Most men are happy to comply. They just don’t know what you want and they are horrible at interpreting hints and signals. It is highly unlikely they will ever figure out that your angry expression means they should help you clean. It’s just not the way they are wired.
Expecting Men to Be Sinless
Okay, ladies, you KNOW your husband isn’t perfect. You know, deep down, that he has sin struggles that are likely different than yours, but do you really give him the grace he needs?
When my husband and I first walked through issues with lust in his past, my heart hardened. I believed that he had committed the unpardonable sin–lusting after a woman other than me. Somewhere I bought the lie that my sins were rated “G” while his were rated “R.” I wanted him to make up for them. Grovel. Swear to never, ever, ever, ever, ever sin again.
Seriously? Does any human even have that ability? I don’t think so.
I’m not saying you should excuse sinful behavior, wipe it under the rug. No, not at all. But, I do think we have to be reasonable in the way we deal with sin struggles in the lives of our men. We must handle them with grace and understanding. We must avoid the temptation to become his mini-Holy Spirit and, instead, pray to Jesus that He will continue to do a sanctifying work.
I’ve found the best way to be reasonable about my husband’s weaknesses is to become more aware of my own. When I go back for the seventh cookie from the package–knowing full well I was acting gluttonous after two or three–sometimes my flesh says, “Who cares. I want it.” And, I give in to the temptation.
Sometimes, our men will do the same. This is because they are human. We must treat them with the grace that we want to receive.
Expecting Men to Be Confident Without Our Encouragement
I often fail to recognize that my husband is not as confident as he projects himself to be. (Shhh! Don’t tell anyone!) Men have this way of coming across as self-assured, but often, they struggle with the same nagging questions of worth and value that women struggle with. I expected my husband to keep me built up, but I often failed to do the same for him.
It’s unreasonable for me to expect him to be “fine” without me cheering him on. It’s unreasonable for me to expect him to be content watching me exhort my children to elementary school greatness while never hearing a word of encouragement directed at him.
Being reasonable means I need to express to him the ways I’m blessed by him, the ways I see God working in his life, and the things I admire about him.
In what areas do you struggle to be reasonable in marriage?