Loving an Imperfect Spouse


Even if there's a specific sin or quirk your husband doesn't see, you can find rest in the fact that his power to change doesn't rest on him at all—it rests on God.

We all have quirks, don't we? If you live with anyone for too long, sin patterns and bothersome traits will quickly emerge. And marriage is no exception.

Perhaps you can even think of a list of those very quirks and sins that make up your husband?

Maybe he forgets to do the house project you have asked him to do repeatedly.

Maybe he likes to have his shirts folded in a certain way, and you fold them differently.

Maybe he only eats meat and potatoes while you yearn for variety and culinary culture.

Maybe he forgets to plan date night.

Of course, these things didn't always bother you. Before marriage, you either didn't notice them or didn't think they mattered in light of the great love you felt for him. But the longer you are married, the more you would really like him to change. Welcome to the reality of two sinners living in a sin-cursed world. Elisabeth Elliot has these helpful words to say about how we relate to an imperfect husband.

"My second husband once said that a wife, if she is very generous, may allow that her husband lives up to eighty percent of her expectations. There is always the other twenty percent that she would like to change, and she may chip away at it for the whole of their married life without reducing it very much. She may, on the other hand, simply decide to enjoy the eighty percent, and both of them will be happy" (Love Has a Price Tag).

Bearing with One Another

So what does it look like to "enjoy the eighty percent"? While you are married to the man you love, you are also married to a brother in Christ. The passages that speak to how we live as Christians speak to our marriages too.

You are called to bear with a husband who sins against you, forgiving him as Christ has forgiven you (Col. 3:13). With humility and gentleness, you are commanded to bear with one another in love (Eph. 4:2). Loving your husband entails bearing and enduring all things (1 Cor. 13:7).

Hope for the Hard-Hearted Man

Any mention of bearing with the sins of another, especially our spouse, must bring with it an understanding that there are grievous sins that require more than simply learning to accept the imperfection of the man you married. But sometimes it's not the grievous sins that threaten to undo us, right? It's the everyday sins and annoyances that drive us crazy and cause us to feel little hope for change.

This is what Elisabeth Elliot is getting at. She knows that because of our own sin, we will never fully arrive as completely repentant, humbled people. We all have twenty percent that we don't see. Our hope when we spend another day wishing our husband was a little different than the man we kiss goodnight before bed is to trust in the finished work of God on his behalf. The God who started the work of salvation in him will complete it one day (Phil. 1:6).

If our husbands are in Christ, we can take this truth to the bank, knowing that God's power never comes back depleted. The same God who called our husbands to Himself is sanctifying them day by day (2 Cor. 4:16). Even if there is a specific sin or quirk that your husband doesn't see, you can find rest in the fact that your husband's power to change doesn't rest on him at all—it rests on God (2 Cor. 3:4–6). And if God can speak the world into existence (Gen. 1), raise a dead man to life with one word (Mark 4:41–42; John 11:43–44), and cause a blind man to see (John 9:10), he can surely do the seemingly impossible feat of changing your husband.

There is hope, dear sister. You can love him for the eighty percent, knowing that your perfect God has the twenty percent in his sovereign hands.

Do you need to change the way you view your husband? How will you do that today?

By Courtney Reissig

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