When Pam and I first got married, neither of us comprehended how different and difficult our personalities and temperaments would become. She is a strong “Type-A”, control/take, never-at-fault, fudge the truth, self-justifier type person. Her never-at-fault attitude and tendency to put a spin on the truth, drove me up the wall for years. On the other hand, I am an outgoing (sanguine)/feeling oriented (melancholic)/self-condemning/people pleasing/depressive prone/always my fault kind of guy. Pam often told me in frustration to “get over it!” She was forced to make a lot of the decisions for our family. Frequently, I had the audacity to criticize her decisions especially regarding finances. I know, what a jerk! On the other hand, she could not or would not admit that she had made a mistake. She could not say, “I blew it!” nor could she say, “I’m sorry”. It seemed impossible for her! This became very frustrating to me.
For me to become the solid man of God that Pam wanted and deserved, I had to make some major changes. My “people pleasing” had to go. God got my attention as I began to study His word. Proverbs 29:25 spoke to me, “The fear of man is a snare, but those who trust in God will be kept safe.” Galatians 1:10 body slammed me with conviction, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Then, Paul told me how to behave in Ephesians 4:15, always “speaking the truth in love.” God wanted me to become assertive rather than attacking. Assertive statements start with “I” (for example “I feel, I want, I think, I need”). “I-statements” focus on the issue without attacking the receiver. Now, I have little trouble being assertive.
Then, the Holy Spirit convicted me that I minimized Jesus’ work on the cross by being “self-condemning”. He has completely forgiven and fully accepted me past, present, and future. So, I must accept and apply what He has done for me! Romans 8:1 is so straightforward, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Paul made things crystal clear in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” He imputed His righteousness in me on the cross. I came to realize that I am righteous in Christ. It is wonderful to know what God has done in me. I am no longer that people pleasing, self-condemning guy.
Pam now recognizes her self-justifying mode of dealing with others, especially me, when she has difficulty admitting that she is at fault. John 1:6,8,10 declare, “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth…if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us… If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” Pam has softened and become an amazing woman.
Self-Condemner married Self-Justifier. With a lot of work mutually surrendering to God and “submitting one to another out of reverence to Him” (Ephesians 4:22), we have a wonderful marriage. Don’t give up on yours! You will discover that it is more than worth the journey.