Forbearing One Another

One of the facts about being married is that folks are not always all warm and fuzzy about each other.

Sometimes Mary dose not sleep well. The baby cries. The dog wines when it thunders. The five year old comes wondering regularly into the master suite at 2 a.m. The result of all this is that John finds her frequently irritable. She is short with him, apologizes and ten minutes later repeats the offense. He complains to his neighbor, “Mary just is not the girl I married.”

Susie comments to her friend that she gets so frustrated with Jim’s messiness. “Why can’t he just put his stuff where it belongs?” she intones over lunch.

“Mary Ann never swore when we were dating” Richard says with tears in his eyes. “I am appalled at her language at times. It is so embarrassing—even though she never does it in front of our Christian friends. I don’t want our children picking up this awful habit. And, it is so not famine.”

How is a mate to respond to such situations in the marriage? There are several of these protocols that Mary, Susie and Richard could apply. In this essay I am going to focus on only one possibility. It is this, forbear one another (Eph 4:2). What does this look like? Here are four examples.

Learn to tolerate eccentricities. When doing premarital counseling I often say to a couple, “You are going to discover that your mate has warts and your mate will be confronted with the reality check that you have warts.” Sometimes eccentricities develop as we mature. Aging can generate some annoying physical anomalies. Maintaining a quality relationship will call for forbearing with each other.

Like Mary Ann above, sometimes a sinful tendency will become be manifested. Assuming you have followed other protocols to address this matter, it may become necessary to quietly forbear while you pray for change. Forbearance is more than toleration. Forbearance in such a situation is the absence of correcting or having a condemning or condescending attitude. It is lovingly engaging and embracing your mate and leaving conviction to God. “Love covers a multitude of sin” (I Peter 4:8).

The third example is accepting tastes and styles. A wife might be taken with a particular style that arises on the fashion horizon. Her husband may not particularly like it or even think that it does not enhance her appearance. But if she likes it, he should accept it. Most of the time, it will be a passing fad.

The last example is cultural differences. My daughter was not raised in a cultural of sports. We were not football fans. She married and Auburn man. Now if you are not from Alabama that may not mean a lot to you. In Alabama it is a cultural norm to be a rabid football fan. There is no other rivalry like Alabama and Auburn football. She decided that if she were going to love him and marry him that she would not just forbear, but that she would embrace his culture. She dug in and learned the game. She knows the plays and the players. Her twenty year old son recently said, “I did not mind selling my season tickets (to help with school expenses) because I enjoy coming home and watching the game with my folks.”




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