Our spouses are unique in their own way. Individuals who have their own taste buds, their own thoughts, how they view the world through their own lenses, how they feel about circumstances, situations, sadness, pain, their past and the way they were brought up. All of these things are ingredients that have made them who they are today. Not everything they say or do is wrong just because we say it is. We have to learn to accept them just as they are.
When my husband and I first got married, his palate was not as diverse as mine. I grew up eating everything but the appliances. My mom is an awesome cook and so was my grandmother. We were expected to eat whatever was put before us with no grumbling or complaining. No matter who cooked it or what it was.
I Accept My Husband
Through the years Jack has learned to love a lot of different foods, but I never pushed him into eating what I had grown up eating, it was a gradual change for him. I adapted my cooking accordingly and introduced things to him slowly. Because, first let’s be honest here, really honest with ourselves, for most of us change is really hard and so we have to extend grace for growth on their level, not ours.
A few years back I was with a group of women and we were talking. I cannot recall everything said in the conversation, but I do remember my response.
I remember saying, “I would never tell Jack how to dress, what to wear or not to wear.” The girls were like, “really?” Each one said they would tell their husbands what to wear and what not to wear. They said they would say things to their husbands like, “you’re not going out in that are you?” “You have a better shirt in your closet, you know that blue one with the dark stitching.”
And I have recently had wives tell me when their husbands dress their own way and not the way they want them to, they really believe their husbands are disrespecting them. And that’s when I say, “REALLY???” I am truly in shock.
It’s not about me.
I will not tell Jack what I do or do not like. Only when he asked for my opinion do I give it and if he still chooses to wear it, I’m okay. It is not about me and what I like or dislike. I am in a marriage with someone else who has his own taste and styles, likes and dislikes. I will not change that because this is a part of what makes Jack who he is and I love him.
At one point in our marriage, Jack had a pair of shoes and I really hated those shoes. But Jack, … he loved them because they were so comfortable. He never knew how I felt about those shoes until just recently. I will never tell Jack that his taste is wrong or his style is wrong. Because I would be tearing at him, his character, what he stands for and what just plainly makes him Jack.
We all want others to accept us for who we are in all our glory, and I’m sure you feel the same. But when someone comes and starts chipping away at you, trying to make you who they want you to be, you lose yourself and what makes you the person you are.
I’ve watched my dad time after time fail to accept my mom through the years and she got lost. After 46 years of marriage, he left her for someone else, divorced her in three months and now she is having to start over and rediscover who she is.
Mom was very outgoing when she and dad first met. She played softball, taught Sunday school classes, and just loved people. She was genuinely kind to anyone she met. But after they were married and through the years he shut her down and squashed the very things that attracted him to her. She is still very kind to everyone but she is having to learn to come out of her own shell.
It is damaging when you change, manipulate and control how you want your spouse to do things. You are putting them in a prison you have created for them in order to please yourself.
Do not try to change your spouse in any way. Let God do that because really He is the only one who knows how to do that without hurting or leaving damaged pieces everywhere. He knows how to accept them while at the same time helping them see changes they need to make that will help them.
Does this sound like you?
How many times have you played God in your relationship? Are you trying your best to confirm your spouse to what you want, to act like you want them to, to dress them like you want them to… etc? If that sounds like you, all you’re really doing is being very selfish and self-centered.
You have a hard enough time changing things you don’t like about yourself and here you are thinking you can change and control your spouse. You don’t want to be presumptuous. The bible says that comparing our self to ourselves is not wise. (2 Cor. 10:12) And to not judge one another. (Matt. 7:1-5)
Accept the process
Now there are times I’m guilty of trying to change Jack and getting my feelings hurt. But whenever I find myself beginning to do that I remember to do these two things:
- I will PRESENT things to Jack, not TELL him. Presenting to my husband is respecting him, telling him is disrespecting him. I do not force or pressure him with what I think or would like for him to do. If he doesn’t like something or agree with me I try not to get my feelings hurt by taking it personally. I accept his opinions even when it may feel like he doesn’t accept mine.
- I have learned to just let things go, run to God, focus on me and Him. The more I keep myself open, teachable, pliable and surrendered to Him I am the one that changes. He forms me and shapes me to be the best wife for my husband and I see the best of things in Jack. God totally changes my focus and gives me His perspective. And He teaches me to keep my husband wrapped in prayers.
So the only time you should try to help your spouse change is when it’s mutually acceptable and beneficial. There are many couples that are good at helping each other, not only look their best but also broadening their taste and styles together. For they are truly happy and they are not critical or demeaning to each other.
Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This is great Janet, there is such wisdom in your words. Sadly, I see this behaviour all the time and our men are becoming passive. Thank you for your post.
Thank you Suzi. It is sad to see this happening in so many marriages. We just have to keep raising awareness of what God says to men and women. There must be Love and Respect for a marriage to work the way He created it to.
I am inspired by the wisdom of your words Janet..And proud of your foresight.
..I love you Mom
Thanks Mom, your encouragement means a lot to me.
Great post, Janet. As you say, it happens both ways, men do it to their wives, women do it to their husband.
Thank you for your teaching, it was written so clearly and it has me re-thinking everything I do with my interactions with Sam. I will definitely be making some big changes! Your website and wisdom is a wonderful oasis in a world of social media garbage!
Andrea, that is really sweet of you to say those things. You and Sam are very special and we are blessed to call you friends.
Thank God I learned this early on in our marriage. We learned to accept each other’s differences and simply appreciate our uniqueness. We build each other up, we are one another’s greatest supporters and we help each other grow.
Thanks Fawn. Great comment.
I wonder what Jack’s perspective is. As for me, I would feel robbed if my wife withheld her input on principle like this. I value everything she says and appreciate her input even when I don’t ask for it. I only know what I’ve read here, but it seems like your stance in this post has been influenced more by your parents than by Jack, but he’s not your mother and you’re not your father.
Of course, Jack is probably 100% on the same page as you, it’s just that you didn’t mention so in the post. Thanks for your hard work and sharing with everyone.
Murray,thanks for your comment. Yes Jack is 100% on the same page with me and I with him, he is the one who encouraged me to write this post. But we all have to work out our own marriages and what fits well with one another. What works for us may not for someone else. I’ve learned through out our years how my husband is and he has learned how I am. Of course we do watch out for each other and when it is necessary to voice our opinion about something we do voice it, but we are very careful not to try to change who each other is and what each other’s likes and dislikes are.
What a great read! i have been struggling this in my marriage for 7 years… and i think its my need for control and fear of intimacy and being close to another that is keeping me from accepting my husband. Who btw has completed excepted me.
This is so convicting. I didn’t realize until recently that my husband didn’t feel accepted by me. I didn’t realize that I had been trying to change him by my words and actions. I am not meaning just small things like clothing choices, but major things. I wanted him to conform to my thinking on almost every issue. He became very passive and our marriage has been in crisis mode since January. I’ve been in the process of surrendering to Christ in my area of control and disrespect and my husband has slowly started softening to me. One of our disagreements is tattoos. He loves them, he only has one that he got before we met. I never explicitly said he couldn’t have another one, but I’ve let him know how much I would hate if he did. As he finally started voicing himself, I realized that this was a huge issue to him. Not so much that actual getting a tattoo, but that I had not accepted that this is something he likes. So as he started softening, he asked me the other day “would you be okay with me if I got another tattoo?” I smiled and said yes. It was never a deal breaker for me and I always assumed if he really wanted one he would push for it, but he was trying to conform to me to keep the peace and it wasn’t right that I put him in that position. Just an example but has really helped me see how my actions have really hurt him because I showed him that I didn’t accept him for who he is.
Thank you for this post and for your ministry. Its a great encouragement to me.
I was kind of hoping you would talk about how to accept your husband instead of telling us how good you are at it and how you think everyone else should do the same. I guess I’m going to have a conversation with God lol you see the only thing that is hard for me is the fact that we are going to be a family of 6 soon and he decides to trade the minivan for a sports car. He loves cars, I get it. He wants to build a business so that he can modify. I get that too. Just upsets me when he becomes obsessed. Either way I still have to figure out how to accept that. But then again, I think it may have to do with accepting myself. Since we do reflect with everyone around us.
It sounds like me… I have changed my husband. Didn’t know that I was doing this. He changed and accepted that change.
I love him more than anything. I really do.
There are things that I never liked about him (well, some of them actually made me fall in love with him…) but I did it.
How do I go back? How do I change myself and accept him?
We have been together for 3 years. I want to learn how to accept him and cherish the differences and be able to tell him I don’t like something but it doesn’t mean he can’t like it either…
The great thing is you can start right now to change this and reverse the damage. First apologize to your husband for changing some of the things he liked and what made him who he is. Even though he may say ‘that’s ok, tell him no it is not. Ask him for his forgiveness. That you realize God created Him the way he is, unique, different, special and this is what attracted you to him and why you married him.
Reserve your opinions till he ask for it. Then when you do give your opinion let it be known that this is what you prefer or think, but leave the final decision up to him. If it is not detrimental to you or your marriage keep you opinion to yourself.
You have to let him grow and he will change as he grows older, which is a great thing. You never want him to stay the same. Learn to grow together and except who each of you are. This will strengthen you, him and your marriage. It is never to late to start again and that is what is so amazing about God towards you and me. Let God help you change in this area, ask him how to do this and He will lead you to do just that. He knows you and He knows your husband and what both of you need from each other and what to do toward one another let Him guide you. God knows what is best for you, your husband and your marriage so that it thrives even in the challenging times. Learn to prefer your husband over yourself, put him first above anyone else, because in doing that you are honoring God and that pleases him. God will always make sure you are blessed when you do this. Our ways and our speech should always be for encouragement, up lifting and seeing the best and praying for our concerns. Treat you husband better that you would treat your best friend. That is a great rule of thumb to live by. Because he will be there long after everyone else is gone, including parents, children and whom ever you can think of. Embrace the boy inside him, because that never goes away…EVER. We woman can squash that in them but that is apart of them we will eventually adore and cherish about them. It will help us not to take life so seriously. Give your all in this marriage and watch it blossom over and over again year after year. I hope this helps and I answered you question. If we need to talk more I am available by phone too. Just let me know and I will give you my number.