Challenges, For Men, For Women

Eliminating “Should” from Your Marriage

I don’t really like the word “should,” especially when it comes to marriage. That’s probably because I use it regularly… And whenever I get a case of the “shoulds”, I always feel like I’m not measuring up in one way or another. I’m left feeling insecure, frustrated…. overwhelmed. It feels like swimming up a raging waterfall. It’s hopeless, exhausting, and fruitless. 

As a wife, I often feel like I should be more adventurous in bed, or I should be better about not spending money…for the husband, it might be, I should work harder for that bonus so we can do/have this – or, I should be more honest and transparent about what I’m dealing with (e.g. at work, online, at home), but how can I?

Even as I sit down to write this blog post there are thoughts running through my head about what I should be doing right at this moment, e.g. I should be cleaning up the house during nap time, or I should be writing more blog posts, or I should write about other topics…

Pressure much?

The Should-Monster

Warning, I do hang out with a 2-year old all day (and love it!), but it may spill over into some of my posts. Just roll with it and appreciate the simplicity if you can… also, feel free to laugh. What is life with a toddler without laughter?? :)

Ok, back to my point.

The Should-Monster shows its face in many ways. Sometimes through conversations with well-meaning, but perhaps not very biblically-minded friends who’s own marriages are on the rocks. Advice resembling, “You should kick him out!” or “You shouldn’t have to deal with that!” or “She should do what you want her to in bed!” can be detrimental to a marriage.

And let’s face it, social media breeds comparison which adds to the never-ending list of what you should or should not be doing in your marriage…or in life. Compelling images, fiery statements, opinions, and beliefs that tend to let the Should-Monster out of its cage. Our culture is drowning in the ocean of comparison, and the Should-Monster is locking weights around our ankles, pulling us down further and further… leaving us and our marriages in desperate need of a Savior.

I know I am not the only one who deals with the Should-Monster on a daily basis. Honestly, to me it reflects a weapon of the enemy who seeks to steal our joy, kill our hope, and destroy our marriages.

The word “should” is a yoke of slavery. It is pulling our souls in the wrong direction, turning our ears away from Jesus, and burdening our hearts and minds with finite, earthly things that can lead to the destruction of our marriage.

Eliminated By Grace

When I find my marriage struggling; when Ryan and I aren’t seeing eye to eye and I feel our agreement and intimacy being chipped away, it’s time I go back to my Savior. I’ve strayed too far and have forgotten His Words that eliminate the pressure and burden of what I/Ryan should be doing.

In Matthew 11 (verses 28-30) our Savior’s words illuminate grace and destroy the chains that the word “should” has wrapped our marriage in,

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

How can Jesus say this? Honestly, even following Jesus at times feels like it has it’s own list of “shoulds.”

Friends, Jesus can say this because his life, death, and resurrection broke these chains! He alone took the burden of what we should be doing to be in right-standing with God and replaced it with true freedom only his grace can bring (Gal. 5:1).

Jesus doesn’t burden us with the pressures of should; he simply invites us in and says Come! (Matthew 11:28)

Now go, freedom is yours

The message of the gospel is this: yes, there are a thousand (plus) things we should be doing. In fact, there’s actually a standard of perfection that God requires of those wanting to be in relationship and right standing with Him.

BUT,  thank God! Thank God He sent His Son Jesus to pay the price and eliminate the list of things we should be doing! (Caveat: read the book of James and you’ll see lots to do with works as evidence of faith. Doing good things is good! Works just aren’t a prerequisite to being loved and accepted by God.)

The gospel says,

  • I measure up because of what Jesus has done, not what I do.
  • I am fully known and fully accepted because of Jesus, not because I’m perfect.
  • I am loved because He first loved me, not because I love him or I’m lovable all the time.

It’s only Christ’s unconditional love that frees, compels, and leads us to love and accept our spouse (and ourselves) with grace. Let’s eliminate the should-list from our marriages and learn to live in freedom with God in Christ.

May you know that you are loved dearly and cherished deeply by our sweet Savior. And may every ounce of his goodness overflow and overshadow all of the Should-Monsters in your life and marriage.

 

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  • Stef

    Thank you for this beautifully written message that I desperately needed today and everyday. A message of love and hope through Jesus who lifts the burdens we feel and place on ourselves. Thank you Selena!

  • Melinda

    Thank you for sharing this message. I needed this, not only in my relationship, but in my life.

  • Karen

    I’m in the midst of a should as in what should I do. My husband refuses to care what his sex addiction is doing to our marriage. We’ve been through more than one therapist, those trained in sex addiction and pastor/therapist over the last three years. Just today he smashed our TV because he kept secretly watching TV’s explicit sexual content (Vanderpump rules, hot bodies of 2015, Kardashians, Making the team Dallas Cowboys etc) and was confronted. He has agreed to a Christ centered marriage, but lashes out at me when his secret is exposed. I pray and trust in the Lord. Is there more I should do.

    • leticia shafer

      If he is willing to read. Buy “Everyman’s Battle” It’s a step-by-step plan to help men overcome sexual temptation deals with pornography, adultery, and other issues leading men astray.

    • “My husband refuses to care what his sex addiction is doing to our marriage.”

      First consider the possibility that this isn’t true. I’m willing to bet he does care about the marriage, and that his addiction maddens and discourages him.

      Ultimately, it’s a trust issue. He, like I have on many occasions, has chosen to trust sexual gratification over obedience to God. From the sound of things, he knows what he’s doing is wrong, but he doesn’t trust or fear God enough to make movement on the issue.

      Ideally, there is a man close to him who he trusts enough to hear hard truths from, like ‘you need to cut that shit out.’ If not, I’ll talk to him. [email protected]

  • Terri

    What if it’s your husband who is constantly telling you what you should do? You try and you always fall short. It’s as if he wants me made in his image. I try to focus on being a good wife to please God but it’s hard when your husband constantly complains.

    • Leticia Shafer

      Praying for you and your husband! Lifting up your marriage to the LORD. He knows your struggles, may he soften your husbands heart and you draw near to him.

    • Is he a believer?

  • Irma

    Great reminder. My heart is grieving by some women in bikinis I saw on my husbands phone. It’s not the first time but now he’s telling me he sees nothing wrong with it. I’ve always had low self esteem issues and this is no confort. Our sex life is none existing right now. I have turned to my saviour but havent found a relief in this loneliness and void I feel inside.

  • Brooke Jacks

    Ah! I just love these posts! I am getting married in a month and the Lord has blessed me with an incredible man but dang is it tough! We are on week 10 of premarital counseling (which I strongly suggest for any engaged couple) and it’s so good but insanely hard!

    I started reading this blog before I was engaged and never understood how true all of this is! It was this blog that the Lord used to teach me that this marriage isn’t even about me or my fiance but about glorifying Christ and knowing that He is using each of us to grow our spouses closer to him.

    It is seriously an every day battle to not compare myself to other women and think about what I should or shouldn’t be doing but when I rest in the Lord then I know the battle is already won and I don’t have to live up to the world’s standards.

    I get so excited when I see an email with a new post and can’t wait for the next after I’ve finished reading.

    Thank you both for being so transparent and allowing the Lord to speak through you!

  • “May you know that you are loved dearly and cherished deeply by our sweet Savior.”

    Thank you for taking the time to write this post. Please forgive my forthrightness.

    This language is why men are absent in the church, in these comments, and in the faith. Undoubtedly, the Lord is my savior and I love him, at times tenderly and affectionately. But He is also my commander, my Lord, my king and the most supreme warrior. He is to be feared, and he is to be obeyed. He has authority, and he will reign forever in that authority.

    My request to Christian women: stop enabling safety-first faith. Stop asking for a church that coddles your child, and start demanding a church that calls and commands your husband. Allow risks in the church. Seek leaders who will not merely comfort believers in their sin, but confront men on their sins.

    Your husband will never obey a milktoast of a man.

  • Emily

    Just thank you.

  • I recently found your blog, and I love it! Such a beautiful marriage you have, built on faith. My husband and I believe that marriage is meant to reflect God’s love for us, and our marriage to the Lord. Your blog and marriage is an inspiration. :) God bless.