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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: June 8, 2015.

6. Stop pleasing yourself. Several of the apostles made it very clear that when self-seeking exists in a person’s heart, every evil work will result. In other words, when there is a problem in a relationship, selfishness is usually the cause. James warned that where “envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there” (James 3:16).

Paul also associated selfish ambition with the disharmony within the Philippian Church. He encouraged them to “Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:2-4). Paul revealed here both the cause of their strife and the simple solution. Humility and consideration for others would solve the strife. Similarly, if you desire greater harmony and compatibility within your marriage, then you must determine where you are living selfishly and turn away from these behaviors.

Let me give you a simple exercise to help. As soon as you finish reading this publication, make a list of all the areas in which you experience the greatest disharmony with your mate. Next to each item, determine how you are acting or reacting in a selfish manner by your attitudes, words, or behavior. Now list an alternative action that would demonstrate love, humility, and self-sacrifice. Last, go to the Lord in prayer and ask Him for the grace you need and the power of His Spirit to implement these changes. His grace and power are sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).

7. Be realistic. Growth in compatibility also requires a continual dose of realism. Remember: Unrealistic expectations concerning your marriage partner will always result in unfulfilled expectations, which naturally lead to frustration and anger because your spouse is not doing what you think he or she should. Therefore, how can you be more realistic?

First, you must remember that your mate will never be exactly like you. The way you perceive people, places, and things will always be filtered through two different personalities and perceptions. Therefore, give your spouse the right to have his or her own ideas and opinions. Your mate does not have to always look at things the same way you do.

When it comes to changes in behavior, remember that your mate will never do what you’ve asked perfectly every time. No human being can be that consistent! Being realistic means that you know you are married to an imperfect person who will fail and fall short of the mark (Rom. 3:23). Understanding this truth should give you a heart of patience and forgiveness. The apostle John acknowledged that even he needed the forgiveness of Jesus, our mighty Advocate. “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). He uses the word we to describe our common need for, and access to, the grace of the Righteous One.

Jesus also acknowledged His realism when he told the disciples that they were, “foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe” (Luke 24:25). His statement reveals a very important truth. Realistically Jesus understood that as sinners we are slow at heart to believe. In fact, we are slow at heart to do anything.

Therefore, be realistic! Your spouse in not going to change overnight. The biblical principle that you should base your expectations upon is what I call the More and More principle. Paul explained this truth when he exhorted the Thessalonians concerning love. “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more” (1 Thess. 4:9-10). A realistic expectation for your mate or for yourself, is that God will work more and more to transform you day by day. Understanding this truth will result in tolerance and realism.

Therefore beloved, knowing these things, won’t you attempt to understand instead of condemn your spouse? Give your loved one the patience and grace you desire to receive. Decide to love unselfishly. Seek positions of agreement where you can compromise with one another instead of digging in your heels. Grow in your relationship with Christ so that you might experience His power and strength to put these principles into practice. As you do, you will enjoy the compatibility God intends for your marriage more and more each day.




For more godly advice on marriage read How To Develop Greater Compatibility With Your Spouse Part III

Excerpt republished with permission from Covenant Keepers by Pastor Steve Carr, Copyright 2013.

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