Who Is to Blame? Understanding Motivation in Your Marriage


Even if your spouse acts with hostility or contempt, why are you solely responsible for your response?

A wife declares, “My husband causes my disrespect. I would not be so disrespectful if he were more respectable.”

A husband contends, “My wife causes my unloving reactions. I would not be so unloving if she were more lovable.”

At a certain point, Sarah and I learned that we do not cause each others’ hostility and contempt if and when it is shown. Instead we know and teach “my response is my responsibility.”

In other words, the other person doesn’t cause us to be bad-tempered and rude; he or she only reveals our own decision to be this way.

Personally, Sarah does not cause me to be the way I am but reveals the way I am–the true me! My sinful reactions are not her fault, even though I rationalize ways to blame her.

This does not mean I am unaffected by Sarah, as though I were a robot. However, my conscience tells me there is a line I should not cross.

All of us will feel mad and sad at times, but being mad is different from going mad. Righteous indignation need not cross the line into sinful anger (Ephesians 4:26).  

As Proverbs 29:11 states, “A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back.” Sarah does not cause me to be a fool, but she reveals me to be the fool.


Yes, a wife needs to be respectable, but that’s a separate issue from the husband’s choice to be unloving.

In the case of a wife, her husband may drive her to the edge of madness with his lack of love, but going over the edge into madness is her choice.


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