Dealing With Your Differences: Do Your Part

By Scott Stanley
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Medioimages/Photodisc/Valueline/Thinkstock

We will all blow it sometimes. But if you really strive to limit your reckless words, you will create a climate that fosters openness and closeness in your marriage.

You are headed for trouble if you focus on your spouse as the source of your problems. Your partner obviously plays a role in your marriage. But you have no control over what he or she does. You do, however, have control over what you do to keep your marriage on track. Think about what you contribute to your marriage rather than what you get out of it or what your partner does.

This means that when conflicts arise, for instance, or when you perceive your spouse as being unfair, you take the responsibility to do the most constructive thing you can do, as opposed to blaming your partner. Far too often, when people believe that their husband or wife is doing something hurtful or unfair, they feel relieved of their own responsibility to be the best spouse they can be. Don’t wait for your relationship to feel as though it’s 50-50. You need to hold up your end of the relationship even when you think your partner isn’t doing his or her share. (The major exception to this is if there is ongoing victimization of one partner by the other. That usually calls for strong actions of a different sort.)

Take responsibility for what you say. If what you are about to say to your mate can pass the standard given to us by the apostle Paul, you are in great shape: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

Handling issues well sometimes comes down to an act of obedience to the Lord. You can make a choice to “edit out” your negative responses and take control of the things you say and the way you say them. Remember: Most relationships can withstand only so much negative interaction. All the nasty stuff makes it next to impossible to be naked and not ashamed. It pushes us toward the fig leaves, if not fig-leaf parkas (Genesis 2-3). Jesus Christ, the apostles, Solomon, David and many others all gave significant warnings about the destructiveness of certain ways of treating others. We will all blow it sometimes. But if you really strive to limit the “reckless words [that] pierce like a sword” (Proverbs 12:18, NIV), you will create a climate that fosters openness and closeness in your marriage.

It is important to recognize your spouse’s efforts to communicate well. Your encouragement can go a long way in keeping both of your efforts on track. For example, you can give your mate positive feedback when you think he or she is trying to bring up an issue constructively. Saying little things like “It really helped me the way you brought that up” or “Thank you for taking the time to listen to what I was upset about” is doing your part to make it easier for your mate to do his or her part.

So what’s your part? Here are some simple ideas that you can regularly put into practice:

• Do things that please your spouse, especially the little things he or she appreciates but that you know you do not do very often.

• When your husband or wife expresses a concern, let any negative or annoying comments bounce off you. Just let the little stuff go most of the time.

• When you have concerns of your own, bring them up without any of those little digs that might trigger your mate to become defensive.

• Take good care of yourself physically.

• Manage your own stress level.

• Be the best you can be as a person. Take responsibility for staying mentally healthy and growing spiritually.

Excerpted from A Lasting Promise: The Christian Guide to Fighting for Your Marriage by Scott Stanley, Daniel Trathen, Savanna McCain and Milt Bryan, Copyright © 2014 by Christian PREP, Inc. Used with permission from the publisher, Jossey-Bass/Wiley.

From Focus on the Family website at FocusOnTheFamily.com. ©2014 by Christian PREP, Inc. Used with permission from the publisher, Jossey-Bass/Wiley.

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Scott Stanley

Scott Stanley, Ph.D., is a research professor and co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver. He has authored/co-authored many books including Fighting for Your Marriage, The Power of Commitment and A Lasting Promise. To learn more about Dr. Stanley, visit his blog: www.slidingvsdeciding.com.

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.


If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.