Why Isn’t This Working?
“I have been obedient to Ephesians 5:33 for a few months. Nothing is changing in my marriage. Why isn’t this working?”
My encouragement to you is to be consistent and do not give up! Love and respect is not a “magic bullet” nor is it a vending machine: “If I love her, she’ll give me respect immediately!” Or – “If I respect him, he’ll immediately give me the love I want!”
Don’t expect immediate results. Also, check your motivation. If your spouse senses that you are manipulating him/her in any way, this will backfire. Of course we all want to see results, but ultimately our motivation needs to be our obedience to Christ and His design for marriage. He will honor our efforts, but it may not always look exactly like we want it to, or happen in our time frame.
Furthermore, depending on your marital history, things don’t change overnight when there has been a pattern of unloving and disrespectful behavior. You need to learn to trust one another again. Does your spouse trust you? If not, this will take more time. For example, if you have been unloving for 5 years, it could take 5 months of fairly consistent loving behavior to turn things around. Likewise, if you have been disrespectful for 10 years, it could take 10 months of fairly consistent respectful behavior to turn things around, etc. The point is…this is not a magic bullet…and it takes time to rebuild trust.
We all fail at this. None of us are loving and respectful all of the time - not even me and Sarah! When you fail, seek forgiveness from your spouse, then get back up and try again. Your spouse will eventually see your heart.
Remember – love and respect is God’s design for marriage (Ephesians 5:33). If you love Christ, do this unto Him and He will reward you, either here on earth or in eternity. If you struggle to be consistent, ask yourself if you have a crisis of faith, rather than a crisis in your marriage. Do you believe that God is good? Do you believe that He can heal your marriage? Focus on doing your part, and trust God to do what only He can do in the heart of your spouse and in your marriage.