In this series Getting That Stubborn Stain Out we have been talking about the use of COFHE to deal with stubborn marriage problems. Our last post, Committed to a Covenant covered the letter C. So now let’s take a look at the letter O.
O is for Ownership
Many times in our Marriage Builders class we have couples come in with the main objective of getting their spouse fixed. While neither husband or wife claim to have achieved perfection, they are set on believing that the only reason their marriage has problems is because of their spouse. Each one will admit to the things they do wrong, but they weigh their own faults in a balance against their spouse’s faults and it always leans in their favor. And many times they claim the reason for their bad behavior is in reaction to their spouse’s bad behavior. “If she/he didn’t do this then I wouldn’t do that.” The old “they started it” routine that we used when we were children.
Too often couples are caught up with being right fighters and pointing the blame towards each other. When they should accept the fact that it is not about who is wrong, but it is about what is wrong. Marriage is a gift and when everything is right, we get to receive the blessings of what marriage brings into our lives. But when there is a problem in the marriage we have to let go of what we want to receive and focus on what we can give.
I am, you are, every single one of us is. Whatever the problem is in our marriage there is a place for us to own our responsibility of it. This does not mean we are to blame ourselves for everything that goes wrong, nor does it mean that we are responsible for our spouse’s bad behavior. But what it does mean is, there is always something we need to hold ourselves accountable for. “Admitting mistakes and owning up to our part of the problem is the single most powerful predictor of turning something bad into something good.” Les and Leslie Parrott.
We have to let go of victim mentality and realize it’s the “Man in the mirror” that we have to deal with. Jesus said it this way,
Matthew 73 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
So, what do I own?
There are three major areas I want to discuss on how we take ownership of the difficult marriage problems we face.
I own my own stuff
News flash: I have issues. We all do. Everyone of us have been born into this world with a selfish sin nature. We may look at ourselves and make comparisons and decide we are not as bad as some other people. But that doesn’t change the fact we have our own “besetting sin” that we have to deal with. I like the way one pastor says it, “if we will stop looking around at everybody else’s stuff and just deal with our own…. I promise you will have a full-time job dealing with your own stuff.” That’s what Jesus was talking about in Matt. 7. We have to recognize we have certain things we do that is contributing to the problem our marriage is facing. Because “we all stumble in many ways,” we have to take ownership for how we contaminate our marriage.
I own what I allow
This is where it may get a little sticky for some. But we have to take personal ownership of how we allow ourselves to be treated. Does that mean every time I’m treated badly it’s my fault? No. Of course not. Does it mean I invite my spouse to treat me badly? No. But what it does mean is if we are habitually allowing ourselves to be treated badly, then that is our responsibility. We have to own what we allow. It’s like someone once said, “we teach people how they can treat us.” Each one of us have to own the boundaries we set and the boundaries we fail to set.
I own it all
Anything my marriage is facing, I’m facing. I own the responsibility to share the problem even when it is clearly my spouse’s issue. That does not mean I’m to take her responsibility and shoulder it by myself. It just simply means whatever the problem is, we are both in this together. And as I said previously, it is not about who is wrong, it’s about what is wrong.
When our marriage was in trouble and my wife wanted a divorce, I did not set back and point out how wrong she was. We had a marriage problem, a huge marriage problem and this is one of the things we did to overcome it. We each owned our responsibility for what we were doing wrong. We each owned our part for how we allowed the other to treat us. And we both owned what was wrong in our marriage and what we needed to do to rebuild it.