4) We learned how to mutually accept each other as uniquely designed by God:
During the first five years of our marriage, we tried to change each other into our image. Behind this drive lay (1) a basic discontentment with how God had made our spouse, and (2) the invalid perception that we were not being adequately served by the other person. In time, thankfully, God strongly impressed upon us such Scriptural passages as:
If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up all right to himself, carry his cross every day and keep close behind meFor even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for manyGreater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (Lk. 9:23 Phillips; Mk. 10:45; Jn. 15:13)
In studying Romans 12:3-8, I Corinthians 12-14, Ephesians 4:11-16, and I Peter 4:10, 11, we came to realize that God had uniquely gifted both us. We came to the point of accepting, rather than trying to change each other. By Gods grace we learned that the other person was not necessarily wrong, just different.
We became aware of the importance of dealing with our own issues, and allowing God to be the one to deal with those of our spouse: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. (Matt. 7:1-5)
In seeking Gods help to accept and serve the other, we prayerfully internalized Scriptures like Ephesians 4:31, 32: Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (See I Thes. 5:11; Heb. 3:13; 10:24 and I Pet. 1:22)
APPLICATION QUESTION: Are you truly accepting your spouse? Or are you still trying to change him or her? If so,why? One suggestion: Identify the most critical aspect of your spouse that you do not accept. Commit before the Lord to pray regularly for (1) a change in your attitude from one of a critical spirit to a spirit of love and acceptance, and (2) determine that if he or she is to be changed, it will be God who does it. Not you.