Paul Byerly’s post Control is Often an Illusion over at The Generous Husband prompted me to finally write this post that I’ve been mulling over for awhile. In that post Paul challenges us with the words, “Let’s be less about control and more about doing what we should do.” (emphasis added)

It seems fairly obvious to me that a mature spouse would desire to do the things that they should do but too often we find it easier to make excuses or justify why it’s fine not to do the things we know we should. A lot of these excuses and justifications rely on our attitudes about others and, since we’re talking about marriage, specifically the attitudes of our spouse. It certainly seems reasonable to not do those things we know we should when our spouse isn’t doing the things we know they should be doing but it isn’t reasonable. Often we choose not do do what we know we should in an attempt to control our spouse into action through inaction on our part. Talk about irony and hypocrisy all rolled up together, failing to do the thing we know we should because our spouse is doing the same thing. I hope you can see the selfish immaturity in that kind of attitude and also see that it is a never ending, never fulfilling cycle that stifles marital growth.

The hard reality is though that we are not exempted from doing what we know to be right because someone else isn’t doing what we think they should be doing.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.~Romans 5:8 (NIV)

This scripture has bitten me more times than I can count. When I realize that God’s love isn’t predicated on me doing the the things I should or being in a right state with Him, Christ died for us while we were still sinners, this shows me that doing the things I know I should isn’t predicated on anything but my own integrity. God’s love for me is an example of how I need to be loving my wife regardless of her actions. I need to lay down my selfishness and do the things I know I should be doing. Yes, it can be hard at times, particularly if you are married to a stubborn, immature, selfish, jerk, but we are called to do the things that we know we ought to do.

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.~James 4:17 (NIV)

I hope that you can see that an attitude that does not depend on others actions in regard to us doing the things that we should be doing is a mature way to behave toward others, particularly our spouse. I also hope that you see that this attitude of doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do can break unfulfilling cycles in your marriage and lead to personal and marital growth.

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