The other day, Johnny woke up with a light bulb. He decided that it was the final era of a particular cooking brand in our home and it was now time to usher in a new brand. Let’s call the new brand ‘G’. His reasons were valid. Very valid. Very solid. I understood him, after all, he’s very strict on health and diet.
He went ahead and brought ‘G’ home, and made us some sumptuous dinner. Trust me, the food tasted well, no better. Way better than I had anticipated. Every taste lingered on my tongue.
Well, in the morning, I waltzed up in the kitchen, reached out to my usual cooking oil, fried up some breakfast, and served my family.
One bite. He stared intently at me and said, “What happened Bae?” Let me remind you that we were talking about cooking all and all gates of hades were ready to burst open wide. He wasn’t so happy that I didn’t use ‘G’ . . . and I wasn’t so happy with the stare and the tone of his voice.
An exchange of words ensued, and quickly escalated into a blame game.
You would think after 14 years of knowing each other, almost 10 in marriage, growing in sanctification, blogging about it, we would be “slow to speak and quick to listen” as Paul exhorts us! This is not Star Wars my friend. That ancient foe doesn’t give a damn about any Pastoral duties you have. One false move and he will take you down!
See, those who do not think about their own sins, make up for it by thinking incessantly about the sins of others. Remember Adam and Eve? Satan showed up. Adam tossed Eve under the bus and heck yeah, he grabbed the Gorilla Glue! “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit!” – Genesis 3:12. I can relate with the homeboy. When sin gets going, my finger starts pointing.
See, it was easy for me to simply say, “I am sorry.” I think it would have been incredibly effective in disarming him. After all, the Bible makes it clear when it says in Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
You know what I mean.
I know we all own little and sometimes too big a story like ours, or like the trouble behind the debacle of King Tut’s beard in an attempt to escape responsibility or avoid getting caught. So we shift blame. “It’s him, not me.” “It’s her, not me.”
Dr. John Gottman describes it as one of his “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” — the four behaviors that cause the most trouble in relationships.
Do you know what? There are a thousand things that can cause us to stumble in our marriages, even transgress against each other, but there is one important issue, almost ignored but it causes the luster of marriage to pale away against its; backdrop. This is the issue that precedes every miserable marriage and every devastating divorce since the beginning of time. Shifting blame.
We have trouble accepting the blame when we are wrong. Blame says implicitly, “I can’t change until you do.” Yet marriage cannot thrive in an environment where everyone is trying to be right. Blame invalidates each other’s feelings. We perceive experiences differently. We cannot all “feel” everything the same way and that’s why you should be careful of invalidating your spouse’s experiences based on your premise- because it might be wrong, woefully wrong.
Paul says in Philippians 3:4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your interests but also to the interests of others. In its simplicity, it says, do not be arrogant or self-righteous when thinking about issues.
In Adams’s mind, sin was done to him and not by him. We were victims too of the same, trying to set record straight with each other. ‘G’ versus the tone, and the stare. . . but what if we listened more?
The tides that rocked became placid, well, later on, but it was a good reminder that we are still in desperate need of a savior to save us from our egotistical selves.
If we want a lasting marriage, and enduring marriage, we cannot effort to pass the baton of moral agency to others, especially our spouses, because if we do, we lose the humility that God requires of us.
It’s a humble acceptance that you own responsibility, you own some part of the problem, an ongoing awareness that makes you other-centered, less of you, and more, so much more of God.
So, apologize first. Don’t try to explain your issues, because we have a penchant for creating a little cocoon of our own, an amoral world where it’s all about explaining ourselves first, and never admitting that our acts might have aggrieved our spouses. God in His sufficient grace knows why He calls us to repentance. An apology gives more room for conversations.
The road to humility is open to every couple who wants to be captivated by Jesus and experience the exhilaration, spark, and gritty grace of a marriage that lasts a lifetime. For that to happen, we have to admit daily our desperate need for grace to accept responsibility without shifting blame. The first Adam shifted his moral agency. The second Adam, Christ, took it all for us! Look at all of us now!
You will both need decide who to follow. Adam or Christ. . .Our journey continues….