It is very interesting to see the type of statements and thoughts that pass as normal and acceptable thinking that are not only unbiblical, but, if I may, absolutely absurd. One of those thoughts is often voiced in any of the following ways:
I am looking for someone that won’t try to change me.
It’s wrong to marry someone with the intent to change them.
I want someone that’s happy with me just the way I am.
Um . . . . ur . . . well, let’s examine this for a few moments.
First off, what’s wrong with changing other people. Life is actually all about growth, growing together, learning more, and becoming a better person. It should also be said that God usually uses people, especially our spouses, to invoke change in our lives.
God’s purpose in marriage is not simply companionship and happiness. He also gives us the medium of marriage to teach us about ourselves and how to love another person in an unconditional manner.
The Scriptures Tell Us To Change Others
God’s Word tells us that life is all about seeing change in ourselves and others. The scriptures also teach us that change often comes as a result of our relationships on earth. Here are a few verses that teach us so:
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. – Proverbs 27:17
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. – Hebrews 3:13
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. – Matthew 7:5
. . . he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. – James 5:20
. . . if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. – Galatians 6:1
The Real Question
It’s not wrong to try and change one another. In fact, I would have to admit that I am very glad that marriage has changed me.
The real question, however, is how, why, and into what are we trying to change the other person.
If I am trying to change my wife because of my insecurities or my own self interests, then that is a problem. But, if my wife is trying to change me into being a better man by using biblical behavior, then that is absolutely permissible and, I believe, expected.
Throwing Out The Baby With The Bath Water
It is no sin to try to change your spouse. The problem usually lies in how we attempt to change one another. Consequently, many have come to the conclusion that they want a person that won’t try to change them. In essence, they have thrown out the baby with the bath water.
This is exactly why our marriage book is called How to Fight for Your Marriage Without Fighting With One Another. We noticed a few years ago that many spouses have good motives, just distorted methods of invoking better behavior from their spouse.
Alleluia! Finally someone with the courage to speak this truth! People can and do change. Sometimes for the better and sadly, sometimes for the worse. You lay things on the line like no other marriage resource writer I’ve ever come across. Even from a young age discerning marriage, I had the intuition to know that the idea that you should never expect someone could change is ridiculous. For one, new Christians come into the church and have major life changing conversions. My Dad was an alcoholic who later made a decision to never yell or argue with his new wife and he became one of the best men I have ever known, so loved by all. Seeing my Dad change like that has given me hope to hold on in my own marriage through all these years. I think many men confuse certain Biblical principals and vehemently reject their wive’s attempts to bring peace into their marriage. I read messages all across the Internet and truly believe there is an underlying epidemic of verbal abuse happening in countless marriages. Broken hearts everywhere and a 50% divorce rate. You see the wives crying out for help, to be heard, but mostly I see their comments ignored. I think countless Christian wives are suffering in silence and putting on a smile for the world to see. Not to say that wives don’t have their own spiritual hurdles to overcome, but they are withering without loving, Godly leadership that they can respect from their husbands. I believe countless Christian wives are inherently tuned to the Spirit in a way that they want to do better, and would gladly submit to loving nudges from a Godly husband, but the negative energy generally directed at them consumes most of their energy (and results in ramant “autoimmune illness” and lack of focus in women today). This worldly thinking of, “You can’t change Me!” (which some use the Bible to mistakenly perpetuate), is obviously rooted in Pride. Sadly, many may be willing to admit their faults for a moment, but somehow the message and prescription for change is not grasped in the heart. More of the same prevails, even in Christian homes. It takes focus and work, but TV, cell phones, and other distractions are so easy to choose over changing habits towards Love. Thank you for putting these resources out there and I pray that lives will be changed one marriage at a time.