What to Do When Your Spouse Goofs is part of an ongoing series, Portrait of a Godly Wife
Everybody messes up from time to time. It is never fun when someone points out our mistakes or shames us for it. Marriage is a fertile ground for such finger-pointing. We are so familiar with one another that we don’t think twice about berating our spouse for their errors in judgment.
Elizabeth provides us with a case study in what to do when your spouse goofs.
We know Elizabeth is worth our attention when Luke describes her as “righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (Luke 1:6). Even though she is in a position to be blessed by God, she and her husband, Zechariah, are childless.
An angel of the Lord appears before Zechariah as he performs his priestly duties in the temple. He brings the miraculous news: “Your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John” (Luke 1:13).
Zechariah, in a moment of doubt, asks for a sign (Luke 1:18). (As if Gabriel standing before him in robes of splendor isn’t enough evidence that God is at work.) Gabriel gives him a sign; he makes Zechariah mute until the day his son is born (Luke 1:19-20).
When Zechariah returns home unable to speak, Elizabeth demonstrates how a godly wife responds after her husband makes a mistake.
Receive your spouse with mercy.
Elizabeth didn’t rebuke him. She didn’t give him the silent treatment. She, instead, did that thing which would cause a woman to conceive. I don’t know about you, but when my husband’s mistakes result in inconvenience, the last thing I want to do is snuggle. I am challenged by the mercy Elizabeth extends to her husband. She accepted him in his mute state and gave him a hug instead of a wagging finger.
We all make mistakes. In most cases, your spouse knows they have made an error. No finger pointing is necessary. The way you respond to your spouse can help set the tone for your marriage. When it’s your turn to be the goof, hopefully, you will be received with mercy, too.
Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. Matthew 7:1-2, The Message
Re-establish trust with your spouse.
Elizabeth challenges me further by reestablishing trust in Zechariah. When their miracle baby is born, Elizabeth supports Zechariah’s decision to name their son John. She didn’t hold his mistake over his head. She didn’t assume control of the household during his period of silence. She respects and honors him in front of their friends and family (Proverbs 31:23).
In most cases, foolishness is the exception, not the rule. For every error in judgment, your spouse has a long list of wise decisions. Do not discredit their wise decisions because of one unwise decision.
Demonstrate unconditional love.
While the crowd sat bewildered over the name John, God did a good thing. He opened Zechariah’s mouth (Luke 1:64). Zechariah prophesies about the coming Messiah–God’s response to our many mistakes.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David…
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God.
Luke 1:68-69, 76-78
God is the ultimate example of what to do when your spouse that goofs. He loves us unconditionally. He extends His grace and mercy to us, even while we are sitting in a pile of our own foolishness.
Consider the last time your spouse made a mistake. Did your response mirror that of Elizabeth’s? What will you do after the next uh-oh moment?
If your spouse is foolish all of the time, visit Abigail, the Wife of a Fool.