Excerpt from An online Course: Where God puts two hearts in a home

Many people bring into the marriage a mental ideal of a 50/50 relationship—one in which each partner gives approximately the same percentage of effort to the relationship and to the responsibilities. This results in a natural marriage of uneven quality, with the couple struggling and suffering to stay together. No one is a good judge of what equality is, and sooner or later both spouses fail to meet each other‘s expectations.

In a natural 50/50 marriage, when failure happens, it produces certain results. Galatians 5:19-20 gives a list of the characteristics of people who are living according to their natural reactions. Please read this passage carefully and look at each of them as a possible reaction after a spouse fails.

Natural Responses

  1. Sexual immorality. Because your spouse does not satisfy your desires, you look with lust at others, perhaps online or in print. You justify yourself because your spouse fails to meet your sexual needs. This may be only mental adultery, but Jesus says it is just as sinful (Mt 5:28).
  2. Hostilities. This literally means ―acts of enemies. Because your spouse has failed and perhaps hurt you, you do something to hurt him/her. You are no longer on the same side—you have become your spouse‘s enemy.
  3. Strife. This is discord, arguing. Because your spouse has failed you, you are quick to disagree and argue frequently. You turn to something or someone else outside the relationship to satisfy your unmet desires.
  4. Jealousy. Perhaps you feel jealous and compare your spouse with others whom you feel are doing a better job.
  5. Outbursts of anger. An outburst of anger indicates simmering rage just under the surface. You suppress your disappointment with your spouse, but the disappointment is still present. It rolls in the pit of your stomach like bad food, waiting for a trigger to come up and spew forth.
  6. Selfish rivalries. Also used in James 3:14, 16. This is the desire to put oneself forward as more important than someone else. In marriage, this might be to say, ―Fine, if you won‘t take care of my needs, I‘ll just take care of my own needs from now on, and you can take care of yourself.
  1. Dissensions and factions. This response to your spouse‘s failure looks for companionship in dissatisfaction, perhaps enlisting the children, your relatives, or your friends to side with you against your spouse or against your spouse‘s failure to meet your needs or expectations.

Who Is Really to Blame?Who does God hold responsible for the responses noted above —the spouse who disappointed the other, thus triggering them—or the spouse who reacts in one of these ways? It is important for a Christian to remember that even though a spouse may have behaved wickedly or selfishly, you are still responsible to not react to sin with more sin.  Sin does not justify sin.