On top of all that, you now realize that your spouse is human, not an angel. He or she makes mistakes, forgets things occasionally, and is sometimes short-tempered with you. How do you handle these disappointing changes and unwelcome surprises, great and small?

When you are trying to accept your spouse, try to remember how God responds to us in our weaknesses and failure. We are painfully aware of our own fumbling and bumbling as his children. But consider these passages from God's Word describing God's heart towards saints who are not always saintly:

  • Psalm 103:1-3 (NLT), "Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases."
  • Psalm 103:8-10 (NLT), "The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve."
  • Psalm 130:3-4 (NLT), "Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you."
  • Ephesians 1:7-8 (NLT), "He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding."
  • 1 John 1:9 (NLT), "But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness."

How does God respond to us in our imperfection? He doesn't look down his nose at us. He doesn't condemn us or ridicule us. He doesn't distance himself from us. He doesn't compare us to someone who may be more disciplined or mature. He accepts us, just as we are, warts and all. How can he do it? The apostle Paul wrote, "Be kind to each other, tenderhearted forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32). God forgives you and accepts you because you are in Christ.

How does it make you feel to know that God loves you unconditionally, even when you may have trouble loving yourself? It's a great feeling, isn't it? This is how your spouse feels when you accept him or her despite his or her changes, imperfections and failures. What a privilege to serve our spouses as Christ has served us.

So, here's the drill today. Think about which areas you need to be less critical and more accepting of your spouse. Maybe it's your spouse's appearance, behavior, or weaknesses.

Then, take the ten minute challenge. Set a timer for ten minutes and write down all the positives you can think of about your spouse in that time. Then either carry the list with you or put it up somewhere you can see it - to remind you of all the things you love about your spouse.

Take the risk. Ask God to help you love and accept your spouse unconditionally. Love your mate even if he or she annoys you, even if he or she disappoints you, even if he or she doesn't deserve your love. Love your spouse with the kind of love that Christ shows you.

Published February 23, 2009

Portions of this article were adapted from "The 5 Love Needs of Men and Women," Copyright 2000 and "Renewing Your Love," Copyright 2003 by Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg, all rights reserved.  Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., www.tyndale.com.  To order this resource or to find our more about Dr. Gary and Barb - Your Marriage Coaches, visit www.drgaryandbarb.com or call 1-888-608-COACH. 

Married over 30 years, the parents of two adult daughters and five grandchildren, Dr. Gary and Barb Rosberg, your marriage coaches, have a unique blend of insight and wisdom that touch people of all ages. Together with Gary's 25,000 hours of counseling experience and Barbara's gift of encouragement and biblical teaching, they are equipping thousands of families across the nation through their interactive daily radio program, conferences, and marriage and family.