Practicing a Love and Respect marriage is a lifelong journey, but you don’t have to travel it alone, even if your spouse doesn’t cooperate. If you are a believer in Christ, you are free indeed (John 8:36). You are free to make the mature choice to love or respect no matter how your spouse is acting.
Sarah and I have to abide by these principles just like you and your spouse. We have a phrase that has helped us over the years: “My response is my responsibility.” Sarah doesn’t cause me to be the way I am; she reveals the way I am. When my reactions to her are unloving, it reveals that I’ve still got issues. I still have more growing up to do.
I have a choice: Either admit my failure to be mature or play the victim. As a victim, I can blame Sarah, or circumstances, or whatever. Maybe it is 70 percent her fault and only 30 percent my fault (and, then again, maybe it isn’t). But the point is, what about my 30 percent?
Like anyone else, I must grasp a key Love and Respect principle and never let it go: No matter how depressing or irritating my spouse might be, my response is my responsibility.
Said another way, there is no circumstance or situation that can cause me to respond in an unloving or disrespectful way. I am in charge of my response – no matter what. And the alternative to responding in a loving or respectful way towards Sarah is to be unloving or disrespectful towards her. That gets me nowhere!
The same goes for Sarah. She says, “Emerson does not cause me to be the way I am. He reveals the way I am. Therefore, if I am disrespectful, that’s my issue and can’t be blamed on Emerson. This is between God and me. God commands me to respect. In that sense, Emerson is irrelevant. So if I explode with contempt when he leaves his wet towel on the floor for the 565th time – this being the straw that broke the camel’s back – my response is still my responsibility. I cannot justify my contempt because he has failed me.”
Don’t play the victim. It’s an easy way to get off the hook, but once off the hook, you can’t mature spiritually. You begin to resent your spouse. You even begin to feel you have the right to be a hostile and bitter person because of what has been done to you.
You may be experiencing disappointment, frustration, or anger but you always have a choice. The only real healing and comfort you’re going to get is by looking to the Lord and trusting Him with your situation, painful as it is. To do otherwise is to sin. This is hard to accept because you are the one being sinned against, at least most of the time, in your opinion. Nonetheless, in order to find freedom, we must all realize that this isn’t about the other person. This is about me before God.
My response is my responsibility!