What happens when you have made every compromise possible and there still is not a perfect agreement?
This is a question often asked because it is a common experience in marriage. What should you do when you’ve done all you can and the compromise is still not exactly what you’d hoped for? Is there something more you should do? Yes! You must accept your differences and walk in love.
Let me be absolutely clear here. I am not saying that you must accept sinful or immoral behavior. Acceptance should only come into play when the issue is not a black and white one biblically and only after you have worked at giving, talking, and praying about it for a long time. There is always a lot of giving that can take place before you come to accepting things the way they are. Some of the issues that you may need to simply accept would be: if your mate is not as outgoing or reserved as you are; or he or she doesn’t share your interests; or when his or her sexual drive is not as high or low as you would like. These issues usually don’t change much over the life of a marriage because they are differences caused by personality, background, temperament, or hormones. In these circumstances it’s important to remember that there are no perfectly matched couples on the face of the earth. No matter who you are married to, you would find these same kinds of differences. It is unrealistic for you to think that your reserved and quiet mate will ever become as outgoing as you or that your spouse will radically change to enjoy everything that you do. You can find agreement in these differing areas if you will labor to give instead of demand. Also, be careful not to despise him or her for your differences. Rather, compassionately accept your mate. This attitude will make possible further compromise and agreement together.
Some have asked me why God would ever put two so completely different people together in marriage. The answer is very simple. He wants to teach you what it means to love. How can you be so sure this is God’s purpose? Because the Bible tells us that marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship with His church (Eph. 5:32). Daily He is loving us and we are learning what it means to love Him in return. The great commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart…And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37,39). You are in the same process of learning how to love your spouse with all your heart. Don’t resist this work; yield to it!
Where does the Bible teach this loving acceptance of those gray areas? In Romans chapter fourteen Paul taught concerning the necessity of walking in love over nonmoral issues. Then, notice how He began the fifteenth chapter: “We who are strong ought to bear with the…weak, and not to please ourselves. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Rom. 15:1,7 NIV).
To understand and apply this passage in your own life you must consider how Christ has accepted you. He sees you with all your faults and imperfections, yet loves you anyway. He does this because you have come into an agreement with Him about your sin and have received the covenant of His blood. You are in Christ, standing in His righteousness. He has “made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6 KJV). His total acceptance of you declares: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). Furthermore, in all the areas that still need His transforming work, He is not deterred one bit from the necessity of continuing to labor in love to bring you into greater harmony with Himself. His acceptance of you in Christ is the proof of His committed love to see the work to its end (Phil 1:6).
God wants you to accept one another in the same manner. This is God’s call to you: Accept your spouse. Don’t let small differences become great divisions between you. Quit concentrating on your differences in personality or anything else you can’t change and focus on what you have in common. Seek agreement through compromise, forgiveness, prayer, and denial of self. Begin today by talking about those issues that you are still angry about, that you know are not resolved. These issues won’t work themselves out; you have to resolve them with your mate. Express commitment to your spouse that you want to learn to accept those characteristics that you realize aren’t going to change much. Pledge to your loved one, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Graciously accept one another to the glory of God!
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Follow this link to read Growing in Harmony With Your Spouse – Part III