April 11, 2011

My Response is My Responsibility

Do you feel stuck in a marriage that seems hopeless? You read testimonies of those who are finding real freedom in their marriage and you long for that. Yet, your partner doesn’t seem to be on board. What then? How does Love and Respect apply?

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!



Tabitha said...

This Is Absolutely Correct... Yes we have to respond in a loving respectful manner no matter the circumstances. Also We must accept responsibility for our actions in everything we do.

Anonymous said...

This is so helpful! Not just in my marriage but in any relationship or human interaction - it gives me the biblical perspective I need when someone or anyone does me wrong!

Titus2homemaker said...

This is the essence of what makes marriage work and ought to be shouted from the rooftops. We need to be concerned with changing ourselves and becoming more Christ-like; not changing our spouses. For those wives who are really struggling with this, and perhaps have experienced adultery as I have, or a husband involved with pornography, feel free to visit my blog. I pray that perhaps my own testimony may help someone here who needs it. My latest article is entitled, "Empty Wives Hungering for More" and can be found at: http://oilofhisgrace.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

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sharideth smith said...

i think this is a message that can not be covered enough. especially in a society that is entirely focused on the commitment to self-happiness instead of relationship.

Anonymous said...

This is so true! I understand this so well....I long to have this love and respect relationship with my husband. We are separated at this point but we are planning to go to your L and R conference in Canada. Our problem though is with the definition of love - respect....with my husband it seems that respect from me would be if I agree with everything he says or if I don't have any different opinions. Otherwise, it seems that he feels disrespected if I have a different view of something or if I insist on something important for me. There is abuse in my marriage and I understand fully what you mean by not being a victim, but at the same time, when you are seen as always wrong because you have a different opinion - and you're being told that you are not submissive because of that....then, is love and respect the ultimate solution?

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have read the Love & Respect book, yet still we struggle with practicing the principles. We have been going through a rough time the past two months, but I must say God is still good! Just when I begain to feel hopeless I came across this post... God has a way of speaking, even if it's through a post on facebook! The enemy though he was winning, but God gets the glory! I'm going into our room right now to pray, and I'm beliving God for better days to come. I needed this more than words can express!

Ashley R. Donaldson, MA, LPC said...

Profound and mysterious. Praise God for your commitment to helping us understand God's intentions for our marriages.


Anonymous said...

Quote from Sarah, "..for the 565th time" that equates to approximately about 1 year of repeated habits that Emerson does not change.

What if and I'm not saying "if" as it were arbitrarily but in real life my wife continues to provoke me with disrespect despite...
1) 7 other couples telling her the same thing.
2) 3 psychologist and counsellors telling her the same thing
3) listening to over 1000 messages over the last 2 years (I am NOT exaggerating here one bit- and I'd say even more)on marriage messages from focus on the family and other sources.
4) despite me explaining to her calmly and also angrily
5) watching selected movies on marriage, e.g. Fireproof, etc.

that there are specific ways that when she says things to me that come across as demaning and controlling I will turn my back up and react. Though how much I try not to...AND she STILL does it regardless.

It is like saying to me, "I have ignored what you are saying as well as all those good biblical advise and I'm doing it my way by nagging you and pushing you and I will continue to do so."




Yeah, you all out there can judge and easy for you say, "till death do us part" and to do so when it has been going on BACK TO BACK for over 2 years ever since we've got married!

yes by that statement "till death do us part" my answer is this.
Just pray that God takes my breath away this is what I've been praying for every night and morning. But when morning comes I wonder why I'm still breathing?

Physical hardship is easy to manage.. mental torture is inescapable.

Is there an answer?

Anonymous said...


I am just now reading this post so my response is a little late. I am a wife and giving my point of view.

I believe the only solution to your question is prayer. And lots of it - which I'm sure you're already doing!

The fact of the matter is that only God can remove the scales from our eyes. Your wife may fully believe she is acting respectfully. Only God can truly show her that she is not. You can continue to try, and I fully believe that you should, but your loving treatment of her should be out of obedience to God, and not an attempt to change her. You cannot change her. Only God can.

When we treat our spouses with love and respect, with a motive to make them change, our motives will not be honored by God. However, when we do it simply out of obedience to Him, He is much more likely to honor our obedience by removing the scales from our spouse's eyes.

You sound like you are in a lot of pain, and for that I am so sorry. Please keep praying, and know that there are prayers on your behalf as well.

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