Sometimes I set my children up to fail. For instance, last night.
I was tired and time was moving so slowly. Out of desperation, I sent my children to play down in the basement by themselves. I claimed it was so I could clean up the kitchen, but I knew that eventually the five of them would play too rough, get into too many arguments, and need a consequence (that would just so happen to be putting them to bed early). It appeared to be a reasonable solution to my dilemma (at least that is what I kept telling myself). After the children had been snug in their beds for several minutes, I sat in my quiet house relishing the minutes I had to myself. The moment was short-lived because conviction began to chip away at my justifications. Each day is a gift from the Lord to empower and teach my children. Each moment I have with them is available to equip them for success, and yet so often I squander those moments to serve my needs.
As I began reflecting on how I successfully set my children up to fail, I came to the scary and sad realization that I do the same with my husband. Not necessarily in the same way, but I know the questions to ask him in order for me to win an argument. I know the worst times to approach him when I want to discuss my heart. I realize that communication needs to be accompanied by wisdom, but some days I find it more convenient to replace being wise with being foolish. I want him to answer incorrectly, not listen closely, or seem insensitive because, at the root of it all, I want him to fail.
Like a spider spinning her web for an unsuspecting bug, I artistically and intentionally create a trap for my husband. My motivations range from desiring control to being in a feisty mood that’s looking to pick a fight. Depending on the day, sometimes I simply want an excuse to revisit past wounds or sometimes I intend to generate true controversy. Whatever the circumstances, I waste energy and time laying out traps for my husband, which is not only counterproductive to a healthy marriage, but it is also displeasing to the Lord. God defines love in 1 Corinthians 13, and in that chapter he says, “Love does not revel when others grovel (The Message),” but isn’t that exactly what I’m doing when I set my husband up to fail? God expects more from me, and my husband deserves better.
Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them. ~ Proverbs 24:17-18 (NIV)
If God’s Word so clearly states that we should not gloat when our enemies fall, how much more should that be for the person we love the most, our husband! Just as each moment with my children is an opportunity to instruct them in the Lord and demonstrate a faithful life, each moment is also an opportunity to love my husband. I will never get this day with my husband again. Do I want to waste my efforts on such fruitlessness when I could be spending the time cultivating a healthy marriage and loving him in a way that points to Christ? One day I will stand before God and give an account of my words, actions, and motivations. I don’t want to try to explain why I wanted my husband to fail. Instead, I want to say that I used my time to encourage my husband in the faith while loving him purely and selflessly.
Do you ever set your husband up to fail? How can you change those tendencies to create moments of encouragement?