Accept Your Spouse The Way They Are Now..Not Some Future Version
Acceptance is a critical marriage secret to master. Each person in the marriage wants their spouse to celebrate their strengths, understand them, and adapt to them. Acceptance is the idea that makes the other spouse feel, "When I am with you, I am with a safe person." I think we can confidently say that we all want to be with a person who "gets us," don't you agree?
The two crucial ideas in this secret of acceptance are understanding and adaptation. One spouse will need more understanding and one spouse will need more adaptation, but truly each wants and needs both to some degree. In the area of understanding, the Bible specifically targets the husband's need to master the concept of understanding their wives, because men can have a tendency to treat their wives as a black box that is a mystery that no one can understand (1 Peter 3:7). If a marriage is to be a good marriage, then both parties need to push for understanding the other person-what are their dreams; what are their strengths; what are their areas of non-strengths, etc. This may seem like exploring a foreign world, but it is important if you are going to have a great marriage. Accepting your spouse means understanding your spouse.
The second idea imbedded in marital acceptance is adaptation. If a marriage is going to work, then both husbands and wives must adapt to one another. After all, these are two different people who came from families with different ways of doing things. While both spouses will need to adapt to each other, the Bible aims directly at wives saying that it will be hard for you to adapt to your husbands in many instances, but if you are going to create a great marriage, then you must find a way of adapting to him without losing yourself (Colossians 3:18). Many wives have adapted to their father or to an ideal man they derived from books or a certain movie, but they find it extremely difficult to adapt to the real man they married. That's because she hasn't adapted to him fully. You can build a great marriage with the man you married if your adaptation to him sends the message that he is accepted by you as he is-not some future version of himself.
There are many things in marriage that need to be adapted to. For example, some marriages don't have a lot of money, but that issue can be adapted to. Some marriages may not include having lots of time together, but that can be adapted to. Some marriages may not be full of flowery, romantic words, but that can be adapted to. Some marriages may not have as many warm and tender embraces as other marriages do, but that can be adapted to. Some marriages may not have children, but that can be adapted to. Some marriages may not come with friendly and loving relatives, but these things can be adapted to. In marriage, there has to be room for a lot of adaptation.
One aspect of accepting the other person is understanding when one spouse has offended the other. If something offends the other person, then we need to apologize even if we would not be offended by that behavior or action. To truly love and understand your spouse means that you don't want to do things that would be offensive to the other person on accident or on purpose. For example, if not calling home when you are going to be late is offensive to your spouse, then it is offensive in your marriage even if your family never worried about things like this. So understanding this, you make the call knowing that this is what your spouse needs from you (adaptation).
The strongest marriages are those where both husband and wife have worked through acceptance of their spouse at deep levels and have adapted accordingly. They know whom they are married to and whom their spouse will never be. They keep helping their spouse achieve their highest and best self. They keep creating space for their spouse to express, pursue, and fulfill their dreams. They create an environment where both they and their spouse can flourish. Understanding and adaptation shout, "You are accepted here with me."
Every spouse is only a few righteous choices away from a much better marriage. What can you do to increase the level of acceptance in your marriage? Can you seek to understand your spouse more? Can you adapt to your spouse at a new level? Let me add that a person should not adapt to immorality or violence. A spouse does not need to "understand" something that is wicked (harmful to others). Having said that, I hope you will always aim to push deeper into the areas of acceptance by striving to understand and adapt to your spouse.
(Taken from an excerpt from Dr. Gil's new book, Marriage Secrets, coming out soon.)
I look forward to interacting with you during your spiritual journey. Please email me to let me know how God is working in and through your life. Your greatest life is just ahead. In His service,
Becoming a Godly Husband
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