Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Something Fundamental Missing in Most Troubled Marriages

Remember your wedding day?  Can you still recite your vows?  Whether you know them word for word, you probably recall promising to love, cherish, and honor each other until the day you died. You meant well. You hoped that would happen and more.

But many of us know that things change. And while we still try to love each other we know there are way more fights or at least major disagreements that often become hurtful and harmful. We don't know why we spar over the little stuff or why our spouse irritates us so much.

Well, there are lots of factors when it comes to our conflicts but there is one that is especially worth considering.  It's what I call the Identify Factor. Most of us have a case of mistaken identity. We think that our spouse will fulfill us, do or say enough things everyday that will make us feel whole and important.  And while we should attempt to love our spouses, encourage them and build them up we can never be enough for them.

However, many couples struggle with arguing and fighting over some of the dumbest things. Why? Well, it's often because they are fighting for their worth, not about what restaurant they should go to or whether one of them picked the right outfit for little Suzanna. We go at it with the one love because they are not agreeing with us or telling us about something we might have done better and that only reinforces that, yes, we really aren't OK.

But if you're a Christ follower, you ARE OK in God's eyes. Jesus died so that we could be OK again. And there are five things we must be reminded are always true of us once we join God's family.  Let me tell you what they are: We are loved, we matter, we have purpose, we are forgiven and we're a child of God.

On any given day those things are always true. And since they are then when we approach our spouse to talk and they need to say something difficult to us or we aren't on the same page we don't have to win. We are freer to say tell me more or I'm sorry I responded the way I did or let's figure out how to make the best decision here about the kids (or whatever).

Our messed up identify has all sorts of implications: how we will do our work, how we will react to difficulties and even how we parent. If you've been trying to improve you marriage and have even gotten counseling but can't seem to put any new ideas into place, consider your identity. You just might be mistaken about it. Thankfully, God has a better offer for you.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.


  1. So much truth here. It is important to settle the big questions like this in our own lives. It is also important to draw out the true identity in our spouse as much as it is possible for us. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Oh yeah! Hubby and I's last fight: I was helping him (read: doing it for him) with his school work while he played video games, screaming at the stupid game for 4 hours while I corrected the test he failed earlier. When he finally decided to call it quits and go to bed, I was still working on his test. He walks in, still mad at the game and made the comment, "I see you're not doing any better than me!". (Attack on my worth). I showed him that I was almost done, snapping at him. He countered that I had no business talking to him like that. (Another worth attack.). I countered back with, "just because you're mad at the stupid video game you played for the last 4 hours, don't take it out on me." (Attack on his worth). He told me to go F myself and slammed the bedroom door. (Attack on my worth). I finished correcting his test, got a passing grade and told him so. He said that he didn't care. (Another attack.). I came to bed and apologized for snapping at him. He rejected my apology.

    Since then he hasn't played video games. Nor has he apologized. But he has been a much better husband and making sure I know my worth.

  3. Thanks, anonymous, for your honest thoughts. Sounds like this post hit home. I hope you and your husband will continue to process what went on and how to handle it differently next time. Sometimes it's good to get someone else to help you think it through.

    The best to you.

  4. Thanks Megan for your encouragement. Glad it was helpful.

  5. A great post to be learned from, and thanks! I have struggled in my marriage in feeling I've had to give up so much of my former identity.