Look in the Mirror…

iStock_000000462901XSmall Have you ever caught yourself being overly critical of your spouse? 

Have you found that you tend to hold them to a higher standard than anyone else in your life? 

Do you hold them to a higher standard than even yourself?

I began asking myself these questions a few weeks ago because of a very trivial thing that happened early one morning before anyone else was out of bed.  I was cleaning up a few toys the boys had missed the previous evening, and without much thought, I got irritated after picking up Jen’s shoes for the second straight morning.  I will admit, I actually had the selfish thought, “do I seriously have to pick up her shoes everyday too?”  (Yes I know, it was only twice, but my complaining heart was exaggerating.)

When I arrived at the basket where we keep our shoes, something struck me immediately.  There were two pairs of my own shoes laying on the top of the shoe pile that I distinctly remembered had been left laying on the floor in our bedroom the day before.  I also knew with certainty that I had not put them away, so Jen had obviously done so. 

At that moment, I actually sat down and asked God to forgive me for having a complaining heart.  I also began reflecting on my marriage.  I recognized a tendency on my part to not only be critical, but I was often getting irritated about things for which I am equally guilty.  I realized that I was generally holding her to a much higher standard than anyone else in my life, including myself.  Was I hold her to a higher standard than is even achievable or reasonable?  At times the answer was, YES.

I am beginning to recognize that sometimes when Jen says something offensive, rather than communicating that specific problem and resolving it, I have been elevating my standards and expectations of Jen.  This gives me ample opportunity to find other offenses to hold against her, which helps me justify my prideful resistance to seek reconciliation. 

It is always difficult for me to admit that a recurring problem in our marriage might be mostly my fault. However, the Bible says that our hearts of desperately wicked by nature, so I want to be on the lookout for these tendencies.  I need to regularly look at myself in the mirror and assess my own failures that contribute to the problems.  There is such freedom in admitting these discovered faults to Jen, and then prayerfully committing to working through the issues together. 

After talking about this initially, we wanted to share this with all of you.  I assume we are not alone in this struggle.  Jen and I are passionate about finding the cracks in the foundation of our marriage and fixing them before they become a major issue.  We have seen the terrible pain that friends and family have endured due to marriages failing.  We know that we are not immune to the sins that lead to our marriage failing.  We pray that God would protect our marriage by providing the wisdom needed for marital success.  We pray the same for your family as well.


13 thoughts on "Look in the Mirror…"

  1. Kim says:

    Thank you so much for this post. It strikes right at the heart of a recent disagreement between my husband and me about household chores. I am so guilty of this and you spelling it out made me realize that.

  2. Allyson says:

    Wow, what a GREAT post and excellent points! This pertains to last night’s spat we had! What GOD-timing on this blog post! Thanks for being open, honest, and vulnerable so that God can teach us all through you guys. We are always looking for ways to better communication and raise our “shining barrier” (from a severe mercy, awesome book!) to hedge against Satan’s desire to see our marriage fail!!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Brad & Jen,
    I see you as a couple who will definitely grow old together. This post struck a cord with me too. Even before reading it, I wrote an apologizing email to my husband this morning for something trivial that happened the evening before. Thanks for being transparent and “teaching” us too. You both are such an inspiring couple to me.

  4. debi9kids says:

    SO beautifully written and so honest.
    It reminds me of so much I have read in The Love Dare… constant reminders to treat those we love (and those we don’t) as we would want to be treated.
    Not always easy to remember, but SO rewarding when we do.

    Bless you both!

  5. I needed this today too. Thank you. 🙂

  6. Nikki says:

    We’ve been struggling with this too. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Lauren says:

    You guys are so blessed to both be on the same page and strive to improve and keep your marriage strong. Keep up the good work and keep sharing. You never know who you’ll help by sharing your story.

  8. Brad (and Jen!), thank you so much for being brave enough to share. I find that I look around and see two kinds of examples for the most part: couples whose marriages seem so perfect we couldn’t possibly compare, or couples who are falling apart. What a comfort it is to see couples who love each other and yet can share the struggle and work it takes to make a marriage work. We can all learn from and support each other when we’re honest about our strengths and weaknesses. God Bless you both.

  9. I have struggled with this off and on also. One thing we have learned is that when it all comes down to it, it will be you two vs. your kids (in a good, healthy way!) and you have to be on the same page. Considering you have four the same age, it’s even more important. (I speak as one with 6, ranging from 9yrs to 23 yrs, including two stepkids). Trivial things can become magnified when kid stress is going on. Praise God for one another!

  10. Julie says:

    It’s easy to write about the fun stuff, but not so easy to write about the hard stuff in our lives, isn’t it?
    Your honesty is refreshing and I’m sure it wasn’t easy to write.
    You are not alone. We have all been overly critical of the loved ones in our lives, especially our spouses. I am just as guilty.
    We tend to let it build. We allow the cracks as you say to spread before we take notice. I have found it is much easier to repair a hairline crack, then to let it spread and weaken the “foundation”.
    Another way I use to help me appreciate my husband when I am so eager to point out his faults is I try and remember some of his wonderful qualities and what I appreciate about him.
    Shifting my focus, what I focus on – the good things about him, often times helps me get over the anger and frustration of the moment.
    Just like in our children, we have to look for the good things they do and encourage that behavior, when we take notice of all the good things our spouses do it helps us focus on the positive and the bad or irrritating stuff tends to just fade into the background.
    Blessings to you and Jen and your family.

  11. Emily says:

    Bingo. Thanks for the reminder to get the plank out of my eye and to thank the Lord for my husband, not ask the Lord to change him.

  12. Kaia says:

    I’m not married and don’t even have a boyfriend, but I must say your posts about marriage inspire me. Keep looking to God!

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