Fault lines. Or, whose fault is it?
Every day it seems I sit in front of couples absolutely convinced that the distress and discord in their relationships is the other person’s fault.
It’s one of the most common problems we see in marriage therapy, and it works against every couple that employs it because it takes the couple dynamics out of relational counseling. If you are convinced you have nothing to change, and your partner has everything to change, then you will, by definition, not do your part to make your marriage – and your therapy – work.
I once counseled a younger couple with a colleague, Pastor Mark Vincenti, now the Pastor of Spiritual Formation at College Park Church in Huntington, Indiana. He is a wise man, and I remember many of the sage things he said during our time together when he was a Pennsylvanian. One thing he said in this context still strikes me. He said (I wrote it down because I liked it even then) “People say marriage is 50/50. No way. It takes so much love, compassion, grace, consideration, and hard work. Marriage is 100/100.”
Accepting responsibility for the ways that you misstep in your relationships is the beginning of being able to change. If you can see your part, it helps you do the work you need to do in order to help fix things. It becomes much less important to outline the things your partner needs to change, when you can see that marriage is 100/100 … if you contribute 100% of your love, compassion, grace, consideration and hard work, and they do, too, it really does work better.
Your spouse is not your enemy.
There is an enemy.
They are NOT it.
Ephesians 6:12 tells us more: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (NIV)
When you think your marriage problems are all the fault of someone or something else, and you refuse to accept your part in both starting and feeding the distress, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that your partner could be a teammate, and not an enemy. When you fall into this trap, it IS the enemy that wins, the Biblical enemy who loves discord, distress and divorce.
Far better to give that 100% lovingly, compassionately, gracefully, knowing your consideration and hard work really can make things better.