Divorce Proofing Your Marriage Part Two

In her book, "Divorce Proofing Your Marriage," Linda S. Mintle (2001, p.  11-19) provides three preconditions that will go a long way toward  divorce-proofing one's marriage.  In this post, I will present the second  precondition: "Recognize that you don't have control over your spouse's will, but you do have a great deal of influence"(p. 12). 

Mintle references the well known physics axiom that goes something like this: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  This is true within the context of a marriage as well.  Sometimes the spousal action is equal and sometimes the spousal action is opposite.  Whatever the spousal action is, the only action you can control is your own action. 

Self-control is not a virtue that is highly acclaimed in our culture.  Nevertheless, God does place great emphasis on it.  In fact, God promises to give us--through His Spirit--self-control.  In Galatians 5:22-23 we find this: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."

Mintle goes on to point out that a marriage relationship is much like a dance.  By the way, I am not a dancer, but I have in the past observed competitive ballroom dancing.  When one of the dancers made a move, his or her partner followed.  The entire dance was a choreographed interaction.  This idea can be applied to your marriage.  You and your spouse create your own dance.  She does this and you do that.  He says this and you respond with that.  Over time, you have a pattern of dances to which you default.  Some are good and some are not so good.  Actually, some of them are just a set of terrible behaviors.  But, you and your spouse have learned these sets of behaviors and it is difficult to break from the patterns.

Remember, however, that you do have control over one half of your marriage dance/relationship: YOURSELF.  I heard someone make the point not too long ago that change starts when someone chooses to do something differently.  Although you cannot control your spouse, you can CHOOSE to change your own behavior and by doing that perhaps you will influence your spouse's behavior to change.  What if you chose to change just one step in the dance?  Sure, there may be tension at first.  However, if you stick to the change you made, you may find that your spouse accommodates the change you made and that the dance actually begins to change.



Mintle, L. S. (2001).  Divorce proofing your marriage.  Lake Mary, FL: Siloam Press.