After Joe and I got engaged we began reading books on marriage. We had a long engagement ahead of us and we wanted to be as prepared as possible for a life lived together for the glory of God. But a couple can be as prepared and well-matched as possible and still find themselves poisoning the very marriage they want to invest in. Over the years I have observed 5 toxic habits that poison marriages.
These toxins are common, easy to come by, and do more damage than many think.
I don’t really know why many of us nag. It never really works. It annoys the other person without bearing much fruit and causes frustration in the nagger. Yet we do it anyway.
Sometimes nagging can occur through sarcastic words (something I am guilty of). “Your dirty socks aren’t going to walk themselves to the hamper”, or “The lawn is looking good if you are going for the prairie look.”
The Bible has a hard word to say to naggers, especially women (maybe because we are more prone to nagging).
Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.
Wow, better to live in a desert? Better to be cut off from all human contact than to live with a nagger? Really? Why? Nagging is in opposition to encouragement. A nagging wife makes her husband’s life stressful and unpleasant and aren’t we called to do him good (Prov. 31). Aren’t we called to be a helper (Gen. 2:18)? If I nag my husband he is much less likely to want to do what I am asking him to do. Nagging is deflating, frustrating, annoying, unkind, and wrong.
We all complain, from unpleasant weather to the fact that no one puts their dishes in the dishwasher, we will never run out of things to complain about, but the problem is two fold.
First off, when we complain we are often telling God that we are dissatisfied with how he has ordained our day and our life. We are basically telling him that he is wrong and that we know better.
Secondly, a complaining spirit is the fruit of pride. We believe we deserve better. We think we are entitled to something more, and therefore speaking out against what we dislike feels justified.
Within marriage complaining often amounts to little more than the venting of our selfish and ungodly feelings. Too often have I complained in front of my husband without any thought as to what effect my words will have on him. Complaining may let you blow off some steam, but it easily burns those around you.
Do everything without complaining and arguing
Oh yes, I know this sin well. That desire to have things go my way tends to rear its ugly head much to often. But selfishness has no place within marriage.
Jesus must be our example here. He placed himself last. He gave himself up for others, he loved when it was inconvenient and he served when he was tired.
Selfishness comes from pride (as with most sins). When we are selfish we are thinking much too highly of ourselves and much too lowly of everyone else. Selfishness within marriage shows that we think we are much more important than our spouse, but isn’t this the opposite of what God calls us to do?
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
We must learn to use our talents, our gifts, our words and our interests for the good of others, particularly our spouse, and in this we will find joy and satisfaction.
We’ve all heard the saying that we should not let the sun go down on our anger. This is so true but do we know why anger is so dangerous?
How many times have we become angry with our husbands and in turn our husbands have responded sweetly and kindly? Probably not very often because anger provokes anger. Instead we need to pray for and practice self control. The ability to bite our tongue, to control our tone, and our volume.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Anger within marriage is dangerous because usually when you are mad at someone you don’t want to spend a lot of time with them. Unresolved anger can lead to two people distancing themselves from each other, bitterness to take root and love to grow cold.
Over time it is easy to start keeping score. It tallies up what you have done for him and what he has done (or not done) for you.The more we keep score the more chips we accumulate on our shoulders and that weight will cause resentment.
One of the main problems of keeping score is that it is a kind of unforgiveness and the poison of unforgiveness continually digs up the past, never letting bygones be bygones. Isn’t this the opposite of what Christ has done for us? He never throws past sins back in our faces. Our sins were put to rest at the cross and we are to extend such forgiveness to others. If left unchecked scorekeeping will bring about bitterness and misery.
Marriage is the union of two sinners who bring into the marriage quite a bit of toxins. It is easy to point the finger at the other person, but we need to spend more time weeding out our own toxic habits and the best way to to do this is to live at the foot of the cross.
In the light of Christ’s work on our behalf anger is calmed, complaining is turned to thankfulness and selfishness withers and dies. Is it easy? No way! But it is possible because we have the power of Christ.
Jen Thorn and her husband, Joe, live in IL with their 4 children. She loves studying theology, reading the Puritans, and has a passion for horchata and all things chocolate. Jen blogs at JenThorn.com as well as goodmorninggirls.org. Follow her on Twitter @jenlthorn and Facebook.