The List – Don’t Accept Your Spouse


Note: We are currently in a series called “The List.” The list refers to a list of ways you can lose your marriage, and is based on information gleaned from over 20 years of counseling records and watching marriage fail.

Maybe you know the pain of not feeling accepted by someone. Nothing feels quite as lonely or demeaning as not feeling accepted by a person or a group of people.

Acceptance is not one of those things we typically talk about when it comes to marriage, but if your spouse doesn’t feel accepted by you, it can lead to the demise of the marriage.


When I was a kid, I was not very good at sports. In fact, I was lousy at sports. I wasn’t very coordinated, I wasn’t very competitive, and I wasn’t very interested. I was more into art and music.

So, when they were choosing up sides for a game, I was always the last to be picked. And in all honesty, I wasn’t really picked. Some team just wound up being stuck with me.

To this day, I still remember the hurt and the embarrassment of not really being accepted.

Maybe you can think of a time when you didn’t feel accepted. Maybe…

  • You were the new kid in school.
  • You weren’t interested in the same things as everyone else.
  • You looked or dressed differently.
  • You didn’t speak the same language.
  • You didn’t get the place or position you wanted.

No matter your age, you probably know the sting of not feeling accepted, and so you know why it’s so important to help others feel accepted…especially if that someone is your spouse.

You may be thinking, “My spouse feels accepted. I married them didn’t I?!” But there’s more to feeling accepted than just having someone on your team. Remember, as a kid, I wound up on a team, but I sure didn’t feel accepted.


Let me give you a simple definition of what it means to feel accepted. Acceptance is helping someone feel welcomed and wanted.

If someone doesn’t feel welcomed and wanted, they’re not going to feel accepted. And I can guarantee you that there are spouses out there that don’t feel that welcomed or wanted by their spouse. You may be one of them. Your spouse may be one of them.


It really is more simple than you think to help someone feel welcomed and wanted…to feel accepted. You can start with these three simple steps:

Greet Them Well.

If I come home from a hard day at work, and my wife grunts out “Oh, hey” and barely looks up from what she’s doing, it doesn’t do much for my mood or self-esteem. But if I come through the door after a long hard day and she looks up, breaks out a smile, and says, “I’m so glad you’re home!” My attitude takes an upswing for the rest of the night.

That’s the power of a simple greeting!

Do you greet your spouse as if they’re just another face in a sea of faces, or do you greet them as if you’re really glad to see them?

Treat Them Well.

This is the second way you can help your spouse feel accepted.

One reason your spouse was attracted to you in the first place is that you went out of your way to treat them well. You put them first, you deferred to the things they liked to do, you carefully watched your words and your attitude, you surprised them with things…in short, you treated them well.

Are you still treating them like that, or have you let those things slip? Are you still showing them how much you want them, or are you just taking them for granted?

Never stop treating them well, and they will never stop feeling appreciated.

Trust Them When Things Don’t Go Well.

This third step is so important because things will not always go well in your relationship. There will be times when you disagree and butt heads. There will be times of misinterpretation and missed expectations. And when these things happen, it’s really easy to convince yourself that the other person is intentionally being hurtful and malicious, and take it personally.

But just because you disagree and your emotions rise, it doesn’t mean that they’re out to get you or that they don’t want you. It just means you’re both fallible humans.

So give them the benefit of the doubt. Trust that despite the disagreement and emotions, they still love you and want you. It will make it easier for you both to continue to feel welcomed and wanted…even in the midst of difficult times.


I know this is a simple concept, but sometimes when something is that simple we just fail to think about it or do it.

Just because two people are married doesn’t mean they feel accepted. So work hard in your marriage (and your other relationships) to make sure people feel welcomed and wanted.

Because, if you do, not only will they feel accepted, they will reflect that acceptance back toward you.

And, if you don’t, it could eventually cause you to lose your marriage. Remember…IT’S ON THE LIST!

The List – Don’t Accept Your Spouse

Note: We are currently in a series called “The List.” The list refers to a list of ways you can lose your marriage and is based on information gleaned from over 20 years of counseling records and watching marriage fail.

Ok. Let’s jump right into this. One of the ways you can lose your spouse is to not accept them.

You may be thinking, “I married them, didn’t I? What do you mean not accept them?”


Too many marriages fail because spouses have trouble accepting each other for who they are.

Now let me say at the outset, I’m not suggesting that you should accept abuse, adultery, addictions, or abandonment. These are things that are destructive to both you and to the marriage and should never be accepted as being ok.

What I’m talking about is accepting your spouse for the unique person they are…even if they’re different from you. (And they are!) Believe it or not, one of the things that attracted you to each other was your differences.

But after we’re married, we start trying to change those differences and make our spouses more like ourselves. This comes across as a lack of acceptance, and it feels not only disrespectful but also hurtful.

Most everyone has felt the sting of not being accepted at one time or another. Maybe…

  • You were the new kid in class.
  • You moved and had trouble making friends.
  • You looked different than others.
  • You spoke a different language.
  • You didn’t get the job or position you wanted.
  • You weren’t interested in the same things as others.

Whatever it was/is, you probably know what it feels like to not be accepted.

To not feel accepted in your marriage is soul-crushing. No one is perfect, but we all need to feel accepted…especially by our spouse. So, you need to help your spouse feel accepted in marriage.


Acceptance is one of those things that you know when you feel it, but it’s hard to define and put into words. So let me give you a simple definition of acceptance. Acceptance is simply…

Helping someone feel welcomed and wanted.

When you feel welcomed and wanted, you feel accepted. When you were dating, you worked hard to make each other feel welcomed and wanted. But the longer you’re married, the easier it is to not feel as accepted, because…

  • We stop trying so hard to accept each other once we’re married.
  • We let common courtesies fall by the wayside.
  • We get frustrated when married life doesn’t live up to our expectations.
  • We start focusing more on what we don’t like about our spouse than on what we do.

Many a spouse is hurt and withering in marriage because they feel unaccepted as a person.


I know this sounds like a big broad topic to get your hands around, but you can help your spouse (or anyone else for that matter) feel accepted…welcomed, and wanted…in 3 really simple ways:

Greet them well.

When I come home from work, if my wife grunts out a “hey” and barely looks up from what she’s doing, it sets the whole tone for my evening. But if she smiles at me, gives me a big “Hey, I’m so glad you’re home” it puts me in a completely different and better mood. If she comes and gives me a hug and a kiss, that’s even better.

It’s funny how a simple greeting can change a spouse’s attitude…all because they feel welcomed and wanted.

Treat them well.

Now granted, they may not deserve to be treated well. Maybe they’ve been grumpy, or ugly, or hard to get along with. But haven’t there been times when you were the same way, and you still wanted to be treated well?

So whether they deserve it or not, consistently try to:

  • Do nice things for them.
  • Think about what they might like.
  • Put them first.
  • Speak well of them.
  • Etc.

Again, you may not feel like it and they might not deserve it. But when you treat them well, they will feel welcomed and wanted. They will feel accepted. This boosts anyone’s spirits and tends to make them want to respond in kind.

Trust when things aren’t going well.

Just because you greet them well and treat them well, doesn’t mean things will always be well between the two of you. There will still be difficulties and conflicts between you that you will have to work out. But when that happens, don’t withdraw. Keep greeting them well and treating them well. Then:

  • Trust that they truly love you and will eventually be changed through your actions.
  • Trust God (if you’re a person of faith) that He will work to improve things between the two of you.


Here are two disclaimers to all of this…

  1. Acceptance is not a cure-all. It is not a magic tactic that fixes anything and everything.
  2. Nor should a spouse accept things like abuse, adultery, addictions, or abandonment. These must be corrected (usually with the help of a counselor or others) for the marriage to work.

But acceptance can be a powerful tool that can strengthen your marriage and draw you closer together. And the lack of accepting your spouse for who they are can eventually cause you to lose your marriage. And so…it’s on the list.

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