Over the last 30 years or so, it has been interesting to interact with married couples, as well as counsel others before they enter into marital bliss. The differences between the married couples and those planning to get married are often immense. I believe it has something to do with reality.
Leslie and I were talking the other day about the phrase, “I will fix them (it) after we are married.” Many, couples, (though not all) as they are seriously exploring marriage, realize that their perspective partner is not perfect. Personality quirks, habits, words spoken out of place, insensitivities, anger, lust, and a host of other issues are sometimes swept under the rug with the thought, “I will change them after we are married,” or, “It won’t be that way once we move into the same house.” If you talk to an older married couple, they will tell you that this way of thinking is an illusion. People will and do change, but marriage is not the cure all for bad manners and offensive behaviors, and most married folks will attest to this fact.
Getting married does not erase personality flaws or bad habits; it reveals them in all their gory glory. There is an old saying that goes something like, “Before you get married you look over, after marriage you overlook.” Two people becoming one is sometimes a very hard task with a great deal of growth required on both parties. After you say, “I do,” you did and looking for the escape clause is not the answer. Focusing on the flaws in your mate will not help either, and often becomes a major source of conflict. You can only work on your own issues and, while you may not readily see them, there are plenty.
If you are not married yet, then please consider this little discussion on fixing your prospective mate. If they drive you crazy now with their behavior or it bothers you how they treat you, getting married will not change that issue. In fact, most people are on their best behavior during the engagement time. Think about that for a minute. If their best behavior drives you to the point of insanity, what do you think will happen when they let down their guard? Entering into a lifelong commitment with someone that you don’t like or drives you crazy is foolish. If you cannot live with them the rest of your days just the way they are, don’t get married for they may never change.
If you are already married to someone that drives you to the brink of anger or frustration, look to the Lord about what you can change about yourself. You are not the Holy Spirit and you are not the one charged with changing your mate. God is the One that can and will fix what needs to be fixed. However, it might not be the same things that bother you. Maybe those spousal irritations are just the thing needed to change you, and not your spouse. How do we ever expect to develop the fruit of the Spirit if everything is just peachy all the time? Patience, endurance, longsuffering, kindness, etc. typically grow to maturity under the hot light of intense times and not in the refreshingly cool of the day.
What about love? The Scripture says that love bears all things, believes all things, endures all things, and never fails – how do we grow in love? I think we need to learn to bear things, endure things, cling to our faith regardless of what we see, and learn to empty ourselves so Jesus can shine through us. Marriage is the perfect green house to help develop Holy Spirit fruit and love. Sometimes our marriages may feel like a hot house, but heat is often required to produce maturity and bring the impurities to the surface so they can be exposed and removed.
Both you and your mate, or prospective spouse if not married yet, will change. It is impossible for two people to live together and not change. How you grow, and which direction you are heading however, are typically tied to how you walk through the tough times. God will fix what He wants to fix in the way He wants to fix it. If we could just remember that we are not God, marriage might go better and last longer. If whatever is bothering you is important to the Lord, He will change it when He knows it has served its full purpose, and we can rest in that fact. He, who began a good work in us, and our spouse, will complete it!