Bearing with One Another in Marriage
What are the most common issues a husband and wife deal with when reconciling after sexual sin? Jeff and Rose Colón share their thoughts in this interview.
Mike: Jeff and Rose. As we focus on couples today, I'd like to discuss a scenario where a man is in our Residential Program and his wife is going through the Wives Program at home. What kind of issues do these couples deal with as they come together and go through this experience?
Jeff: Typically, what we see is this couple having a hard time bearing one another through the different kinds of issues that they'll be dealing with as they go through their programs. And what I've seen with a husband a lot of times is that he is looking at everything he has sacrificed to come into the program. He is focused on everything that he has given up in order to get his life in order after he's been in sin for maybe 30 years. And now that he's been in the program for four weeks or so, he expects his wife to just come around and forgive him. He wants her to move on from the hurt he has caused her, and he thinks that she needs to start patting him on the back for doing well now.
Mike: And Rose, how is the wife looking at the current situation? Obviously, she's seeing it from a different perspective.
Rose: Usually for the wife, when the husband comes into the program, whether it's the Residential Program or the Overcomers At-Home Program, has certain expectations for her husband as far as him changing into a totally different person. And if she sees any sign of his old nature coming up, it sends her into a panic. And for her, she may wonder if her husband is really changing because she still sees remnants of his old nature. So, she may start to wonder if her expectations for him to change are realistic or not.
Mike: Ok. So Jeff, how do you begin to deal with this man? I mean I guess what you describes is fairly typical of how guys are. We deal with an issue as we see it come up and then we move on and we don't think about it again. How do you begin to help a man to see his wife's perspective? Or what is the real issue that you have to deal with there?
Jeff: The real issue is self-pity. He's feeling sorry for himself and he's looking for a little bit of recognition from his wife to make him feel better. What I try to help him understand is that he needs to be in sight of the mercy that God has had on him in the fact that he didn't die out there in his sin. He needs to see that it's the mercy of God that he's even in the program and he needs to have a grateful heart. And with that he also needs to understand that he must bear his wife through what she needs to go through. And if she has a hard time, maybe she doesn't speak nicely to him on the telephone, he needs to bear with her through that and be a little more understanding of what she's going through instead of focusing on how everything is affecting him.
Mike: I guess a lot of times for these guys, they may have been dealing with whatever the sin issue is for many years and this may just have been a sudden thing for the wife. And so, you can understand how she may not be as quick to forgive or quick to move on. Rose, what's the real issue you're dealing with when it comes to the wife?
Rose: Well, a lot of times the wife is too focused on the husband and how he's not changing. And we really want her to get focused on the Lord and we want to encourage her that her husband's a work in progress just like she is. Sanctification is a process and it takes time for the Lord to change different attitudes in our hearts and our behavior as well. So, I would try to encourage her to get her eyes on the Lord and look to Him. I would also have her write down some things that she does see that are different in her husband and not be so focused on what she still sees is wrong with him. She needs to see what God is doing in her husband's life and encourage him in that way.
Jeff: That reminds me of what I told a husband to do recently that really goes along with what Rose is saying. I encouraged him to make a list and write down the things that he's grateful for about his wife. I told him was that he should be grateful that she's talking to him after 30 years of deceiving her and sinning against her. I told him that he should be able to come up with 50 things to be grateful for about his wife. The bottom line was that I told him he needs to get the focus off himself and how he is feeling and how maybe he’s not getting treated the way he would like. I told him instead that he needs to be focused on his wife’s needs and he needs to be praying for her and caring for her. And ultimately, he should be thanking God and he should be having a heart of gratitude for his wife.
Mike: Well, it sounds to me like the common thing I hear from both of you, whether you're dealing with the husband or the wife is that they need to bear one another. For both of them, much of the solution involves getting their eyes off of themselves and looking to meet the needs of others. So, this would be something we could all apply to our lives whether we are married or not. How many relationships would be transformed overnight if we would just bear with one another.