Computer viruses are maddening. When a virus gets into your computer, it changes the way your computer operates. All of a sudden the computer doesn’t work as smoothly as it use to. It gets sluggish, acts erratically and sometimes just shuts down.
Marriages, like computers, are susceptible to viruses that can effect the health and operation of the marriage. Here’s how it works…
One spouse acts as a carrier, bringing a virus into the marriage. That virus becomes contagious when the other spouse receives that virus and reacts in ways that perpetuate it. As a result, the marriage begins to slowly deteriorate.
There are many different viruses that can infect a marriage. Here are just a few of them:
- Anger. When you bring consistent anger into your marriage, that anger will eventually be deposited in your spouse. They may not display the anger in the same way, but that anger will eventually be reflected back at you.
- Insecurity. Insecurity will cause you to (1) overcompensate and come across as arrogant, (2) under compensate and become a door mat, or (3) decompensated and withdraw into hiding. No matter how it’s displayed, insecurity can undermine equality and comradery between spouses…leaving the marriage itself insecure.
- Depression. Depression is extremely contagious in a marriage. If you suffer from untreated or poorly managed depression, your spouse will eventually be drug into depression with you.
- Pessimism. Pessimism is like trying to drive down the road with the breaks on. It creates a lot of drag and friction on a marriage; especially since pessimists tend to marry optimists.
- Fear. Fear causes you to look at the unknown and dread all the bad that could happen. Since much of marriage is unknown, this leaves the fearful spouse miserable much of the time…and they wind up making their spouse miserable.
- Disrespect. Disrespect is cancerous to a marriage. It can range from disregarding your spouse’s feelings to calling them names. When you carry disrespect into a marriage, your spouse will eventually lose respect for you and start treating you disrespectfully. This is a slippery slope to the quick demise of a marriage.
- Self-Centeredness. One of the first things marriage does is float our self-centeredness to the surface where it can be clearly seen…and hopefully dealt with. If one spouse continues in their self-centeredness, it will cause the other spouse to become self-centered out of self-preservation. Then, as the old saying goes, “You have two ticks looking for a dog.”
- Pride. Pride is off-putting and ugly…even on the prettiest of people. Scripture tells us that pride is the precursor to destruction, and that’s true in marriage. Pride will turn off your spouse and push them away, preventing the two of you from growing close.
So what should you do if your marriage has become infected with a virus?
If you’re a carrier – You must take the log out of your own eye. Take a long hard look at yourself. Be honest with yourself and allow others to be honest with you. Stop blaming everyone and everything else and clean up your act by taking the following steps. (Warning: these aren’t easy, so buckle up.)
- Confront it. Face up to the fact that you’re a carrier and your infecting your marriage in unhealthy ways. Admit it to yourself and take responsibility for the viruses you bring into the marriage.
- Confess it. After admitting to yourself that you’re a carrier, admit it to your spouse. Confess to them the virus you’ve brought into the marriage. Ask for their forgiveness and commit to change. This is both powerful and biblical.
- Correct it. Start infecting your marriage with things that will build it up rather than tear it down. Try infecting your marriage with things like: kindness, courtesy, humility, service, joy, appreciation, etc. Keep it up until you see a change, then keep it up some more.
If you’re a receiver – Realize that the virus in your marriage has probably caused you to think and act in ways that are not helping your marriage. Build up your immune system by taking the same steps as above:
- Confront it. Own up to your own contributions. It’s easy to focus on the virus your spouse is bringing into the marriage and ignore your own problematic thoughts and actions. (Back to Matt. 7:3-5.) You can’t change your spouse, but you can change how you’re responding to them.
- Confess it. I know this is hard to do, but you need to confess to your spouse all the ways you’re contributing to the poor health of your marriage. (Back to James 5:16.) This is really difficult (especially if the carrier’s virus is blatant and obvious,) but it’s the healthy thing to do. And the healthier you are, the less the virus will infect you.
- Correct it. It’s not enough to confess your contributions. You must make changes. You may be thinking, “But what about them?” All I can tell you is when you correct your contribution to the poor health of your marriage, it will have an effect on your spouse. It may set the stage for them to improve, or it may set the stage for them to get worse, but either way it will effect change.
So, has your marriage been hacked by a virus? If so, remember this…
We are all carriers who bring things into our marriage, but we can choose whether to infect our marriage with things that build it up or things that wear it down. We are also all receiver susceptible to viruses in our marriage, but we can choose how and what we will receive. So whether you’re the carrier or the receivers, the choice and responsibility are still yours.
Tell me what you think about this. On track or off base? If you think I missed it, let me know. If you think I got close, pass it on to someone else.
Copyright © 2016 Bret Legg