This is a series originally posted in November 2016. We share it as a Vintage post because it’s worth remembering.
The last two practices you may or may not realize you’re doing. This is why we want to shine the light on these two together. It happens when we listen to our spouse either with our mind made up based on our view (assumption), or when we hear what you’re saying but have no intention to consider it (disregard). The discussion at this point is closed.
Assuming is never good because we cannot read our spouse’s mind.
Even if the evidence points strongly in our direction–we must give them the benefit of the doubt until solidly proven otherwise. What makes assumptions so harmful is you rob your spouse of their voice. We have seen it happen countless times in counseling when one spouse shuts the other down not allowing them to share their perspective. Assumptions press charges with no regard for mercy. It isn’t from a loving heart that assumptions flow, but from a proud, condescending heart.
When we stood at the alter pledging our love and commitment we had no idea that those vows would come at such a cost.
What is your limit? What is the one place where if your spouse took you there, it would be over? It’s supposed to be until death parts us, but sometimes the cost is more than we can bear in our own strength. And maybe that’s the point, we’re doing this marriage thing in our own strength! Maybe God wants to get us to the place where our dependence is on Him alone, not on our spouse’s ability to do things the way we want them done? Maybe it’s not about our happiness, but our holiness.
Ouch! I know that hurts. Doing real life with another sinner will hurt! But we must breathe grace, not make assumptions.
The other detrimental practice is disregard.
To disregard another is to put them on the sidelines, to take their opinions, their thoughts, their wellbeing out of the game. It’s telling them they no longer matter to you.
It breaks our heart to see couples treat each other with disregard because marriage is supposed to model Christ and His love for the church. And He never disregards us, even when we deserve it. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He has promised to hear every cry we whisper to Him in secret. He has even promised to keep all our tears in a bottle and count our tossing. Even when He knows He’s not going to fix things the way we want them to be fixed. He loves us enough to listen, love and work His plan in and through us. And by His grace we can learn to regard our spouse well.
Assumption and disregard are born from miscommunication that takes place for a long time, or worse–no communication at all.
How do we avoid this practice? By having friends who are willing to point it out to you. Have a long talk with your closest friends about these practices, and ask them to hold you accountable when they hear you say anything that sounds like it. And don’t expect them to bring it up! Being accountable, as Tom often shares, isn’t having people who will ask often to see if you’re being faithful. Being accountable is self-disclosing your struggles, your temptations and your failures. It’s not waiting for them to ask you, but volunteering your struggle to them. After spending an evening together pause and ask your friends if they have observations that would be helpful for you to hear. And then listen to what they share.
In review, we’ve looked at five practices detrimental to marriage. Of course this list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a start. Do you see any of these in your marriage? We’d be surprised if you didn’t. Let’s talk about it and cut the temptation off at the start before it does permanent damage.