No one wants to sense rejection from someone who claims to love them.
Let's face it, marriage is the closest human relationship on God’s green earth. Two individuals come together and become one—a baffling divine arrangement. During dating and courtship, couples are completely enthralled with each other, with little room for nitpicking. Forgiveness is easily dished out, and mistakes are allowed to slide. Then comes the big day, and the two officially become one.
As the new couple trudges through their marriage, their differences inadvertently come to the fore. The scales fall off their eyes, and they begin spotting the glaring shortcomings in their partner. In most cases, the differences that drew them to each other morph into annoyances. There's a quirky saying that love is blind, but marriage is the eye opener. If we are being honest, it holds some truth. If spouses are not careful, they quickly plunge into a rabbit hole of fault finding and judging each other.
The dictionary describes judging as expressing a negative opinion of someone's behavior because you think you are better than them. In other words, when you judge your spouse, you tell them they are not good enough for you. You are also telling them that it's not okay to be themselves, and nothing could be more irksome. No one wants to sense rejection from someone who claims to love them.
Here are five reasons why you need to stop judging your spouse:
1. They Deserve Proper Communication—Not Judgment
“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Colossians 4:6 NKJV).
The perfect antidote to misunderstandings in marriage is effective communication and not judgment. Just because your spouse forgot your wedding anniversary doesn't mean they no longer care or love you. If you treat them with empathy and listen to them, you may unearth a few facts. Perhaps they had a horrible week at work. Maybe they were threatened with a sack, causing them to lose their footing.
If you seek to communicate with your spouse as opposed to judging them, you will most likely discover that they mean well. You will discover that you didn't get married to a horrible person after all. Effective communication means upholding respect during disagreements, not being defensive, not sweeping issues under the rug, and, instead, fighting fair, showing empathy, and listening intently.
2. You Are One with Your Spouse
“And He answered and said to them, ‘have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ “and said, for this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6, NKJV)
Sadly, many couples do not seem to grasp the weight the above scripture carries. As time peels away, it's not surprising to see each spouse carving out a life of their own. If the marriage relationship continues to fester, some spouses even live as mere roommates. When God looks at your marriage, He wants to see one entity, not two. That's why during creation, He formed the woman from man, using one of his ribs. The woman was already nestled inside the man before she came to be.
In marriage, we are commanded to replicate the same unity. Granted, this is not easy to achieve, especially because of our fallen state. But that's why Jesus died on the cross—to liberate us from the power of sin. God wants spouses to seek oneness spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Paul exhorted husbands to love their wives as their own bodies, for no one can hate their own body. Instead, they nourish and cherish it. This amplifies the fact that the two are one.
With this knowledge, each spouse should realize that when they pass judgment on their spouse, they inadvertently pass judgment on themselves. If you love yourself, you will not judge your spouse.
3. You Are Inviting Them to Judge You
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2, NKJV)
I once had a supervisor who would blow a gasket if we hurtled into the office late by a mere minute or two. She had no wiggle room for human error. In return, whenever she got late herself, my colleagues and I would squirm in our seats and exchange bewildered glances. By judging us, she had flung the door open and invited us to judge her.
In the same way, when we judge our spouses, we are nudging them to take a closer scrutiny into our lives and judge us as well. Jesus instructed that whatever we would want men to do to us, we should also do to them (Matthew 7:12). If you do not want a spouse who is always auditing your life with a fine tooth comb, then down your auditing tools as well. The law of nature is that we sow what we reap. If we sow mercy and forgiveness, we reap the same.
4. Self-Righteousness is as Filthy Rags
“But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags. We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities like the wind. ” (Isaiah 64:6, NKJV)
We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. None of us is righteous. When we judge our spouses, we elevate ourselves above them, suggesting that we are better and more righteous than them. Yet God would want us to esteem others above ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Jesus gave a parable, speaking to those who trusted in their own righteousness and despised others.
In Luke 18:9-14, we see the Pharisee and the tax collector going to pray. The Pharisee starts by tooting his horn, claiming that he was unlike other men who were extortioners, unjust, adulterers, and even tax collectors. What's more? He fasted twice a week and gave a tithe of all his possessions. The tax collector, on the other hand, was remorseful and pleaded for God’s mercy. In the end, it was the tax collector who went home justified.
It doesn't please God when we judge his children. He did not send His Son to condemn the world but to save us. We can correct our spouses in love, but we are not to condemn them. In the end, we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account of our lives to God (Romans 14:10-12). In the meantime, let us raze to the ground the “judgment seats” we have erected in our marriages. Remember, God is a righteous judge (2 Timothy 4:8), and we are not.
“Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4 NKJV)
5. There is a More Excellent Way—Love
“But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.” (1 Corinthians 12:31 NKJV).
Paul does not belittle the various gifts in the body of Christ—apostles, prophets, teachers, workers of miracles, and those with gifts of healing (1 Corinthians 12:29). All those gifts are great and important. But He implores the Corinthian church to pursue a more excellent way—the way of love. Remember your wedding vows? You pledged to love your spouse through the varying seasons of life. You signed up for the more excellent way. Here’s a sneak peek of what loving your spouse should look like:
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NKJV).
If you love your spouse in this way, you will not judge them. You will trust their intentions and will not think evil of them. Your love for them will not fail.
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Keren Kanyago is a freelance writer and blogger at Parenting Spring. As a wife and mom, she uses her blog to weigh in on pertinent issues around parenting, marriage, and the Christian Faith. She holds a degree in mass communication with a specialty in print media. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram and/or shoot her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.