One principle, if consistently followed, will save your marriage. The principle is easy to understand but hard to practice. The principle is this:
See yourself as the problem not your spouse.
I get this from Jesus’ wise instructions in Matthew 7:3-5: “Why do you look at the s peck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye, and behold, the log in your own eye?’ You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
When conflict, disagreement, and sin arise, we are naturally inclined to blame our spouse. Blame-shifting, in fact, has been happening since the beginning of our humanity: Adam blamed Eve; Eve blamed the serpent; both had a deep-seated inclination to blame each other for their sin (Genesis 3:12-13).
Pointing the finger at your spouse is easy and common: “If he treated me better and talked to me more, then I wouldn’t have a hard time following him.” “If she respected me a little more, then I could actually love her.” Yet, when we think or say these things, we are not seeing ourselves as the problem; we are not removing the log out of our own eye.
No one likes to be wrong. And we are better at seeing sin in others than in ourselves. Yet, if you would take ownership for your own problems and failings; if you would see that you are the bigger sinner in your marriage—you have the “log”—then you could help remove the speck that is in your spouse’s life.
This principle is so effective, because it puts you in place of humility, brokenness, and need. And Jesus always rescues the humble, broken, and needy. Jesus came to save those with logs not those with specks: “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).
In the end, then, it really isn’t a principle that will save your marriage; it is a Person. Jesus, on the cross, took your blame. In a way, he pointed the finger at himself. Jesus said, “I take your log.” And since Jesus took your log, he frees you to admit that you have a log that must be removed before you can help your spouse remove his/her speck.