“Can you talk to Jerry, please? Things are bad again.” I’d gotten this phone call a number of times from Sarah. She and Jerry had a marriage hurt by many factors. But one of the clear challenges revolved around how he thought about money. The couple couldn’t pay their bills, yet Jerry continued to spend money on extraneous items. When I sat down with him to talk about it, he matter-of-factly said what he always said: “I give her X amount of money every month for the bills. If she can’t pay them, she needs to figure that out on her end.”
Jerry had a clear 50/50 approach to finances in their marriage. He saw their marriage less as a partnership and more as a contractual agreement, at least when paying the bills. As you might imagine, this spilled over into other areas as well, wreaking havoc on their relationship. His deeply held belief about their partnership was harmful to their marriage. Many of us carry beliefs either consciously or unconsciously that are similarly harmful. Here are 3 of the big ones.
1. She knows I love her.
Many men struggle to articulate their feelings for their wives. We are much more likely to let our actions do the talking. We make sure we share the responsibilities around the house, we do our best to respond when she asks us for things, we work hard to make money to support our family. And don’t get me wrong—this is very important.
But because of this, it’s easy (and common) for men to think the words are unnecessary, as if the actions speak for themselves. But it’s critical for us to use our words just as we use our actions. According to Proverbs 27:5, “Better open rebuke than hidden love.” Don’t let your marriage hurt because of your refusal to say the words “I love you.”
2. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.
Let’s face it. We’ve all been tempted at times to keep secrets from our wives. Often it can seem harmless enough. We tell ourselves she just doesn’t understand or she’ll overreact or it’s harmless. However, secrets in marriage hurt marriage. It’s that simple.
Secrets, by their very nature, create distance in a marriage. They force you to guard certain parts of your heart from the one you’ve committed to sharing your life with. It’s possible there are exceptions to this rule. However, I’ve found that it’s best to err on the side of honesty. You’ll rarely regret living honestly with your wife. You’ll nearly always regret secrecy.
3. We’d be fine if she just… (It’s her fault.)
Of course you think you’re right. We all do. We’re certain we are making the right decisions or saying the right things, otherwise we wouldn’t do or say them. Because of this, when there is conflict, we assume the fault is hers. She’s the one who needs to change. If she did, all would be well.
But it’s probably safe to assume you’re wrong most of the time. That’s not to say that your wife is right. She may very well be wrong, too. But if she is, she most certainly isn’t the only one. Humility is the most important virtue that none of us seeks. But in marriage, it’s critical that we approach our wives with humility, knowing that even when we’re sure that we’re right, we’ve probably gotten something wrong. This is a great recipe for living with grace and forgiveness for one another.
Sound off: What other beliefs have you found to be detrimental to your marriage?
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