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Bringing Out the Best in Your Spouse

God uses marriage to complete and “perfect” a man and wife.
By James Ford


I will never forget what transpired between a former associate pastor and his wife. Sister Davis would approach Brother Davis at the end of Sunday service with her hands on her hips and attitude written all over her face. Just like a well-memorized script, she would say, “Davis, let’s go, boy. I’m hungry!” Immediately, he would snap back at her, “Wait until I get through with my conversation!”

Sister Davis would then respond, “Look, boy. We’ve been here since 8:00 a.m. and after three services, I’m hungry. Wrap that conversation up so we can go.” It would make her just that much angrier when he would coolly respond, “I said, ‘we’ll go when I finish talking with my pastor and these brothers.’”

Just as a reminder to him, she would stomp away and sulk within visible distance. This scenario was repeated virtually every Sunday for several years. After a while, when I just couldn’t take it any longer, I called her one Sunday evening and the following conversation ensued.

“Sister Davis, this is Pastor Ford.”

“Hello, Pastor.”

“How are you this fine Sunday evening?”

“Well, to be honest , Pastor, I’m trying to recover from my ordeal with my husband. He knows we’re at church nearly six hours every Sunday and sometimes we haven’t even had breakfast. Yet, after the services have ended, he has to stand around running his mouth with the fellas. Every Sunday I tell him not to do that but every Sunday it’s the same thing. The worst part is that we fuss and argue from the time we leave the parking lot, we eat our meal in silence, and then we go to bed sleeping back to back.”

“Sister Davis, I’d like to help you change all of that, if you’ll let me.”

“Of course, I will let you, Pastor. Just tell him to start being more sensitive to me on Sundays and maybe that will do it.”

“I don’t believe that’s the answer, Sister Davis.”

“Well, what is it, Pastor?”

“You know, the Bible teaches that a man needs respect. Right?”

“Yes, I know that it does.”

“Well, do you think he feels respected when you approach him while he is talking to other men, commanding him with your hands on your hips and calling him boy?”

“Now, Pastor, we call each other boy and girl on a regular basis. And—“

“Wait, please hear me out before you go on the defensive. Let me suggest that next Sunday, instead of taking your usual stance, try this instead: Don’t approach him like you’re angry. Walk up to him and say, ‘Excuse me, gentlemen.’ Then say, ‘Sweetheart, may I speak to you in private for a moment?’ When he says okay, put your arms around his waist, look into his eyes, and softly say, ‘Baby, I’m hungry. Let’s leave and get something to eat, please.’”

On the following Sunday evening, I was well into my after-hours worship services ritual, meaning I was allowing the TV to watch me. Then, my wife woke me up with an apology. She said, “Honey, I apologize for waking you up, but Sister Davis is on the phone. I told her that I didn’t want to wake you but she said that it was urgent.”

I answered the phone only to hear the very enthusiastic voice of Sister Davis exclaiming, “Oh, Pastor, I’m sorry for having Sister Leslie wake you up, but I had to let you know that I did exactly what you instructed me to. And I must say that we had the best Sunday we’ve had in years. When I said what you suggested, he said, ‘Okay, Baby.’ Then he turned to the brothers and told them he would talk with them later. He said, ‘I have to take my honey out to eat.’”

“Pastor, we had a very pleasant conversation on the way to dinner. We also had a great conversation over dinner. Then, we went home and did something on a Sunday evening that hadn’t happened in many years. So just had to tell you how much I appreciate your showing me how to be a better wife to my husband.”

I laugh about this incident every time I think about it. Now, this story could have been a reverse situation where the husband needed some advice on how to treat his wife. But the reality is that it reinforces one of God’s reasons for creating marriage—the “perfecting” reason.

Completing each other

Did you know that as a married couple you and your mate are supposed to bring out the best qualities in each other? One of the main reasons why God created marriage was to create a spiritual reception between the husband and wife to prepare them for just that purpose. In fact, I call it the perfecting reason.

The way in which God brought together the first two individuals was so that they would accept each other in their respective roles. In Adam’s acceptance of Eve as his counterpart he fulfilled God’s design for the man’s role in marriage. Adam was now complete in every sense of his being.

The same is true of Eve’s existence. The moment God created her out of the man and joined her together with her counterpart, Eve’s total makeup as a woman was complete. The couple graciously received their individual parts and the two became one flesh just as the three members of the Trinity are one God.

Together, the man and woman became a fulfillment of God’s desire for them to complete each other in matrimony. But what does it really mean for one person to complete another? And how do we recognize it when we think in terms of a marriage relationship? At first glance, two people “completing” each other sounds like the sugary words from the lyrics of an old love song. But it goes much deeper than that. It is a God-inspired idea.

When a man and woman complete each other it means they are positioned to enrich each other’s lives. And that is what the perfecting reason for marriage is all about. To “perfect” something or someone means to make it or them better. God set this pattern so that what takes place in a marriage union is that the husband and wife receive each other in a physical and spiritual way. It is how He intends for us to perfect each other.

Building each other up

In a spiritual sense, Adam was an incomplete being before God created Eve. He was physically intact but something was missing from his life. He did not have everything that he needed to match the blueprint God had drawn up for the human family that He was planning to live on earth. So, God caused Adam to sleep and took a piece of his rib to create Eve.

Now, Adam was half the man he used to be because a physical part of him was taken away. But God used that same part to create Eve. In His wisdom, this was all part of His plan to form a partnership so that the individual partners would not just coexist but they would actually complete each other.

Moreover, God gave the man and woman the ability to better each other’s experience on earth. This is a lifelong process; it doesn’t happen overnight. When you think about your own relationship, you will most likely agree that there is always room for improvement.

Well, just as He did for the first couple, God made preparations for you and your spouse to develop and improve your relationship over time. Even the little things that you do when you treat each other with kindness such as anticipating her needs, rubbing his tired feet, and sending flowers for no apparent reason. These are things that build each other up.

Brother and Sister Davis were doing just the opposite by being on a destructive path of tearing each other down. It only took a simple suggestion to help them turn their situation around. When Sister Davis acted on it, they both got the benefit.

The same applies to you and your spouse. You can only reach the kind of perfection God wants for you by showing love toward one another. This is what Sister Davis realized when she took my advice. When she began to approach her husband in a positive way, then he was able to respond favorably to her. The change in behavior that she adopted proved successful to get both of them results they were pleased with.

That change took their attention away from their negativity and shined the spotlight on their love. That’s what God is talking about.

Excerpted from Seven Reasons Why God Created Marriage, by James Ford. Published by Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois © 2009 by James Ford. Used with permission.

FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family.



Meet the Author: James Ford

James Ford, Jr., has been the senior pastor at Christ Bible Church, located on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, since 1982. He serves on several boards, including the alumni board of Moody Bible Institute, is president of Impact Ministries, and provides the messages for Impact Ministries’ radio broadcast, Straight Talk from the Scripture. Pastor Ford is a contributor to the book Heart for the City and is the author of When A Man Loves A Woman and Seven Reasons Why God Created Marriage. He and his wife, Leslie, have three children and several grandchildren and live in Chicago, Illinois.

 

 

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