Yes, the word says “We all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. We all would like to think the man or woman we married is perfect. I have news for you, no man is perfect. We are working towards perfection, Ecclesiastes 7:20 “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins”. We can expect failures from even the best people in our lives.
So now the question becomes, “What do you do when your spouse fails you in some way or is less than you wish for them to be? What happens when they have a weakness or a failure? What about an unresolved childhood hurt that they bring to the relationship?”
There are 3 ways you can handle it:
a. You can deny it: Believe me, this will not work. Things will only get worse.
b. You can beat them up because of their imperfections—I would not suggest that.
c. You can love them out of it.
1 Peter 4:8 “Love covers a multitude of sin”.
Nothing in a relationship has to permanently destroy that relationship, The only unforgivable sin in a relationship is deception. But even in that if the person that is deceiving is willing to repent and turn away from their deception they will be forgiven. It is the person that has a hardened heart and lives in deception that is in trouble. Other than that nothing in a relationship should be able to permanently destroy that relationship if we are able to forgive. No failure is larger than grace. No hurt exists that love cannot heal. But for all this to exist there must be Compassion and tenderheartedness. The Bible describes compassion as “to stoop in kindness to an inferior” (Strong’s Hebrew and Greek dictionary). We need the same attitude towards an equal spouse for 2 reasons.
The reasons are:
1. Forgive what is inferior to ideal standards, and humble yourself to identify with your spouse.
2. If your spouse is hurting you or failing you, remember you are not morally superior. However, you are in a stronger position to help not to hurt.
Colossians 3:12-14 “Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against another, forgive as The Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put Love which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Hardness of heart much more than failure is the relationship killer. Jesus said in Mathew 19:8 “He saith unto them: Moses because of the hardness of your heart suffered you to put away your wives, but from the beginning it was not so”. This is why the bible places such value on tenderheartedness.
Let us look at what tenderheartedness consists of:
- An identification with sin and failure. Scripture states “WE all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.” If you think you are above sin you are in big trouble, Yes, the word says if we CONFESS our sins and repent He is willing and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But please do not think because you confessed your sins two minutes ago you can look down on others. None of us are perfect. We are sinners saved by grace.
- An identification with weakness and vulnerability. Lack of this is one of the chief causes of a hardened heart. If we stay away from our own hurts and vulnerability and do not confront them we will not be able to identify with the hurts of your spouse.
Corinthians 4: “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God”.
Deal with your own pain and hurts and you will have more empathy for your spouse. Do not get angry with your spouse for their weakness–This is the worst thing you can do. It is using your strength in that area to destroy. Identify with your spouse’s weakness or inability as if it is your own. Become a partner in the healing process, not a judge
- A willingness to become vulnerable. Sometimes we build up protectiveness from childhood and say we will never let anyone hurt us again”. Then they take that strategy into a marriage. This may have worked in the past but this will keep them from having closeness now. When you get hurt, if your spouse is truly repentant and can be trusted, open up again, be vulnerable again. This is what God does with us.
- Willingness to repent. Forgiveness and tenderheartedness come from the injured party. But for it to be useful in the future of the relationship, the person that failed must face their failure and show a true change of heart. Without that change of heart, we cannot open ourselves to that person until they do. We open ourselves unto people when they show they are trustworthy. This does not mean they are perfect but it means they will truly try.
Compassion, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness ensure something very important. These qualities ensure that imperfect people can experience love and relationship for a long time.
My advice to you: clothe yourself With compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you have against each other.
Dr. Ray Williams