If we’re going to have healthy, joyful relationships, we have to learn to handle frustrations in marriage that inevitably arise. These frustrations can actually increase as we become more familiar with the Bible! Since the standard set by God’s Word is so high:
- A husband could easily become frustrated that his wife is not more respectful or submissive as God’s Word commands.
- A wife could as easily become frustrated that her husband does not cherish her or provide the spiritual leadership God’s Word commands.
This is illustrated by a situation that took place years ago when I was teaching on marriage. While talking about husbands loving their wives, a woman stood up in front of everyone and criticized her husband for the way he mistreated her. I could have interrupted and said, “Can we pray for you two?” or “Why don’t we talk about this after the study?” Instead, I was caught so off guard that I did the worst thing possible—nothing! I simply stood there with my jaw dropped while the angry wife finished berating her husband. After that I decided it was important to give people encouragement for handling frustrations in marriage…
First, handle frustrations in marriage by remembering your own weaknesses.
Instead of keeping a mental account of all that your spouse does wrong, remind yourself of your own struggles. Instead of focusing on your spouse’s failures, focus on your own. We all have plenty of weaknesses to work on without obsessing over the weaknesses of our spouses. When we start to feel frustrated toward our spouse, we should think back about the ways we’ve failed. This will humble us and diffuse the frustration we’re feeling.
Second, handle frustrations in marriage by thinking of ways to help your spouse grow.
The Bible is not split into one section for husbands and another for wives. The passages on marriage, such as Ephesians 5:22-33 and 1 Peter 3:1-7, contain intertwined exhortations for both spouses. This encourages a husband to be familiar with the instruction for his wife, and a wife to be familiar with the instruction for her husband. If a husband knows what is expected of his wife, and a wife knows what is expected of her husband, they can help each other fulfill their biblical responsibilities. We should ask ourselves:
- How can I help my spouse be a better husband or wife?
- How can I encourage my spouse to fulfill the role God has given him or her?
- Is there anything I can do that will make being married to me easier?
If you cannot think of any answers to the last question, you are not thinking hard enough!
Third, handle frustrations in marriage by turning them into prayer.
Take any feelings of hurt, betrayal, or disappointment, and pray that God will help your spouse grow in the area that is upsetting you. Pray also for God to help you be as forgiving and gracious as necessary. When it comes to our spouses, we far more likely to complain, gossip, yell, threaten, pout, or ignore than pray. If we would spend as much time praying for our spouses as we do on these other things, our marriages would be much better. Instead of focusing on:
- What your spouse does wrong
- How you shouldn’t be treated the way you’re being treated
- How you deserve better
Every time you start to feel frustrated, pray for your spouse.
Discussion questions for husbands and wives
- Why do marriage passages, such as Ephesians 5:22–33 and 1 Peter 3:1–7, intertwine instructions for both spouses? In other words, why should husbands and wives be familiar with Scripture’s commands for their spouses?
- After looking at the verses above, what things do you struggle with that are preventing you from fulfilling your role in marriage?
- How can you encourage your spouse to fulfill the role God has given him or her? Provide three examples:
- What can you do to make being married to you easier? Provide three examples:
- How will you pray for your marriage differently?