As if They’ve Already Arrived
By Jennifer Waddle
Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. (Romans 14:19)
I remember the first time I heard the concept of treating your spouse as if they’d already “arrived.” I admit, I was skeptical.
The idea behind it is to stop complaining about what your spouse isn’t doing, and start encouraging them in the things they are doing. I was afraid to try it, worried that my husband would start to think he was doing everything right! But I also knew something had to change, so, despite my skepticism, I decided to give it a try.
My biggest complaint was that I felt like my husband didn’t spend enough time leading our family spiritually. For years, I would take the lead in this area and then act like a martyr because of it. Does this sound familiar to anyone else?
However, when I started treating him as if he’d already arrived, in the sense of regularly encouraging him in his faith, real change began to take place. I began to be thankful instead of critical, and supportive instead of combative. Even when I felt like he was missing the mark, I stopped getting upset over it and started taking it to God. Here are some of the remarkable things that happened when I started treating my husband as if he’d already arrived.
1. I became extremely thankful for the small things.
My husband took us to church, he prayed at the dinner table, he read the Bible on his Bible app, and he shared bits of his faith journey with us. For these things, I began to be truly grateful—and it made all the difference in our relationship.
2. I noticed my own failures, leading to repentance.
I’d been so critical of my husband, I’d forgotten about my weaknesses and failures. As I built him up in his faith, I saw the areas in which I, too, needed to be strengthened. This led to a whole new perspective in our marriage.
3. My husband felt less pressure to live up to my expectations and more freedom to live according to God’s principles.
I didn’t tell my husband I was going to put the “already arrived” theory into practice. However, he noticed something was different. He felt a lot less pressure from me and began wanting to take the lead spiritually. This was amazing to me, and I still thank God for this transformation.
4. God filled in the gaps I’d been trying so hard to fill myself.
All of my worries, that things would get worse instead of better went away, as I saw how God filled in every gap. The spiritual leadership of our family didn’t look as I thought it should look, but the Lord reminded me that despite our weaknesses, He would continue to be the strength and backbone of our family.
5. My attitude completely changed for the better.
It’s been ten years since I started treating my husband as if he’d already arrived, and these have been the best ten years of our marriage. I still get frustrated at times and start to worry about things, but those worries are quickly put to rest in knowing that God is the ultimate leader of our family. Mostly, I’m just thankful for a spouse who loves the Lord and love us as completely as he does.
6. Our marriage grew by leaps and bounds.
The first fifteen years of our marriage were good, but constantly plagued by my critical expectations. Looking back, I see how my sweet husband put up with lots of attitude and ingratitude. Praise the Lord I was able to set my skepticism aside and decided to treat my spouse as if he’d already arrived. Our marriage has grown tremendously over the past decade. Yes, we still have serious issues to work through. And yes, there are times when we have to do hard things and hold each other accountable, but it’s nothing like before.
I encourage you today, if you are in a constant state of discontentment over what your spouse is or isn’t doing, try treating them as if they’ve already arrived. Commit your plans to the Lord and wait in eager expectation of what He will do. You might just be amazed at the transformation that takes place.
Jennifer Waddle is a Kansas girl, married to a Colorado hunk, with a heart to encourage. She is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayer, and is a contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is EncouragementMama.com where “Discouragement Doesn’t Win.” She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth.
For More Great Resources for Christian Couples, Visit Crosswalk's Marriage Channel.