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