Are You Accepting or Tolerating Your Spouse?

I’m sure my husband doesn’t really want to be “tolerated”—no matter how difficult his habit may be to live with. 

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There’s a catch-22 in my life. I want to be patient and tolerant of my husband. Sounds all well and good, right? But if you think about it, the word “tolerant” tells you a little bit about where I’m going with this post.

I’m sure my husband doesn’t really want to be “tolerated”—no matter how difficult his habit may be to live with. He wants to be loved and accepted. The problem comes when we mentally mix the bad habit someone has with how we feel about the person. And tolerating someone’s bad habit is a surefire way to mix up two very different ingredients and make one bitter-tasting soup that everyone wants to spew out!

Maybe you’re wondering, what in the world is she talking about? Well, I think it all boils down to not communicating what I want or need early enough that I am able to separate my feelings of love for my husband from his bad behavior.
If I wait and am tolerant of him in this area, I will build up anger that neither one of us wants to deal with later.
For Example:
  • I may deceive myself into thinking that I can tell him later without my resentment showing through.
  • Or I may deceive myself into thinking that my irritation isn’t all that bad until I totally lose it in a weak moment.
  • Or I may feel like I’ve given my hubby break after break, so he should be happy that I’ve waited so long to gripe!
But the truth is—neither one of us wins when I wait.
Most of all, there’s a distinct difference between tolerating someone and accepting someone in spite of a flaw.
  • Tolerating involves gritting your teeth and shoving down your anger until you just can’t stand it anymore and it comes tumbling out.
  • Accepting someone in spite of a flaw means that you discuss the matter before you get to a boiling point and you try to come to some kind of understanding and agreement.
You then give your spouse a break when he does it again—reminding yourself that you need compassion and mercy every now and then too.
Now if your spouse simply refuses to work on this area in his or her life, or falls off the wagon, then that’s another matter. I’m not talking about enabling bad behavior for the sake of keeping the peace. I’m talking about making your first, second, and third response kindness, graciousness, and forgiveness. I’m also talking about talking with your spouse before you feel like the little teapot about to blow!
Another way you can learn to accept your spouse rather than tolerate your spouse is to pray for your mate in this area. Ask God to help him or her overcome the problem. Ask God to give you a greater love and mercy for your spouse. And finally, ask God to reveal some of your bad habits and ask him to help you work on those areas.

While you’re working on your own problems, you just might forget about your spouse’s, but if not, then at least you will certainly have more understanding and compassion!



This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Messy Marriage

Featured Image by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash


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