When your marriage is going well you feel like you can take on the world. When it’s not, you feel like nothing will ever be OK again. An unhealthy marriage, or a marriage in crisis, can feel like a mountain bigger than you can ever hope to get past.
If you’re the one who knows your marriage is in trouble you may well be clawing desperately to try and fix things. And you’re probably terribly frustrated with your partner for doing nothing.
But here’s a news flash: You CAN’T change him! Or her!
For your own mental health (and physical and spiritual health as well!), just stop. Maybe he SHOULD come home right after work, and call you if he’s going to be late. Maybe she SHOULD respect you and not tell all her friends how thoughtless you are. But you’ve probably already figured out that the more you try the SHOULDs, the less things change.
So what can you do instead?
Focus on yourself. Completely stop trying to change the other person. Completely! And don’t even beg God to change them: that’s HIS department. Trying to play Junior Holy Spirit, or glorified parent, in your spouse’s life just doesn’t work.
You work on developing your own relationship with God, and becoming the person He wants YOU to be. When you pray, talk to God about what YOU need to do, and about receiving His grace. Whatever character development you need, focus on that. Find ways to get your soul filled completely separate from your spouse if you need to (and NOT with an affair). And after all, God never intended your spouse to fill the place in your heart that only He can.
Will your spouse notice the difference, and change too? Will he start coming home on time? Will she respond to you with respect? Perhaps. But that’s not the point. Whether or not your spouse EVER changes, YOU will. And that’s the only thing within your power to do.
And who knows -maybe, just maybe, your spouse will come along too. If your marriage ends, you will know that you have done everything in your power to make it work. And if your marriage is saved, you’ll be an even better spouse in the future.
Have you tried to change your spouse? Did it work? How are you learning to do things differently?