6 Ways to Guard Against Making Your Spouse An Idol
This post is in response to a question asked of me on my guest post at Pearl’s OysterBed. I thought it would benefit my readers here to expand on my comment response. This is Part 1.
How do I guard against making my spouse my idol?
What is Idolatry?
In Biblical times, idolatry primarily referred to the worship of or praise of images or carved idols. However, idolatry extends well beyond just physical objects. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary explains:
The Bible understands that idolatry extends beyond the worship of images and false gods. It is a matter of the heart, associated with pride, self-centeredness, greed, gluttony ( Philippians 3:19 ),and a love for possessions ( Matthew 6:24 ).
But can you also make a person into an idol? Yes. Especially in close intimate relationships.
Some signs that you may be making your spouse into an idol include, but are not limited to:
- spending little to no time with God and spending all your time with your spouse,
- believing and living like you could never be happy or fulfilled without your spouse,
- believing and living like your life would be over if your spouse was no longer in your life (i.e. death, divorce)
- worrying constantly about your spouse’s safety (I struggled with this one for a long time)
- putting your trust completely in your spouse instead of God
- relying solely on your spouse for your source of contentment and always wanting more because you can never be satisfied
6 Ways to Guard Against Making Your Spouse an Idol
1. Start with an Authentic Relationship with Jesus Christ
God has to be your All in All first. Your spouse is secondary. You must cherish God above all else. In Matthew 22:37, Jesus tells us the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This means you are called to love God with your emotions (heart), with your spirit (way of life), and with your thoughts and intellect (mind).
*In the next 4 weeks, I’ll be discussing how to love God with all your emotions, with all your, spirit and with all your mind.
2. Ask God to reveal to you if you’ve made your spouse an idol.
Matthew 7:7 assures us that if we ask, it will be given, and if we seek, we will find. If you need wisdom, if you’re not sure where you’ve been struggling, or if you’ve made your spouse an idol, take it to God in prayer. If you ask in accordance to His will (to be made aware of a sin and to repent of that sin), He will hear you [1 John 5:14]
If you’re not even sure what to ask, pray for the Spirit
- to help you pray [Romans 8:26; Ephesians 6:18],
- to help you confess [Psalm 139:23-24]
- to know what to ask [Romans 8:15; Philippians 4:6]
- to intercede on your behalf [Romans 8:27]
3. Allow Christ to Be Christ.
Christ is the One who saves you. Don’t expect your husband to save you. Yes, we should confess our sins to our spouse and keep each other accountable, but your spouse can never take the place of Christ or be salvation to you.
- Psalm 146:3 “Do not put your trust in princes or in human men who cannot save.”
- Jeremiah 17:5 “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.”
- John 14:6 “Jesus said, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’“
4. Keep Healthy Boundaries
Recognize that your spouse is responsible for his thoughts/feelings/actions and you are responsible for yours. Don’t hold your spouse accountable for your faults/thoughts/feelings.
Some examples of this include, but are not limited to:
- Expecting to always ‘feel’ loved by your spouse & then use their unloving actions as an excuse to be unloving in return [1 Peter 3:9; Romans 12:9-10, 16, 17-21]
- Comparing your thoughts/desires/actions to your spouse’s either in determining yourself to be morally superior or inferior [Galatians 6:4-5]
- Boasting in yourself [2 Corinthians 10:12; Ephesians 2:8-9]
- Using your spouse’s sin as an excuse to punish him/her. [Galatians 6:1; 2 Corinthians 2:5-8; Matthew 18:5]
5. Keep Healthy Expectations
Don’t expect perfection. If you do, your spouse will ultimately always fail. Remember you married a sinner and grant grace to your spouse that you would want granted to you. Forgive readily. You are not your husband’s Holy Spirit or his mother. When he does something wrong, it’s not your job to punish him.
- Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.”
- Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
- Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
- Colossians 3:12-15 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love,(F) which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.“
6. Recognize true happiness, contentment, and joy is found in Christ
…not in any other earthly person or thing. When your happiness, fulfillment, peace, contentment, purpose, and joy is found in your spouse (or other things) instead of Christ, you have made an idol for yourself.
Only God can give…
- Ecclesiastes 7:14 “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.”
- Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always, again, I say, rejoice!“
- Romans 15:3 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
- Psalm 33:21 “For our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His Holy Name.”
- Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.“
- Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.”
- 2 Thessalonians 3:16 “may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”
- John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
- Psalm 4:8 “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
Lasting Fulfillment & Purpose
- 1 Peter 2:9 “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.“
- 2 Peter 1:3-4 “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
- Psalm 33:11 “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,the purposes of His heart through all generations.”
- Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
- Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 “He has made everything beautiful in its time.He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.”
*Come back next week for a post on how to love God with your emotions & how to allow God to redeem your emotions.
Share with Us
How do you guard against making your spouse into an idol? What boundaries do you put in place? How do you keep your expectations in check? How has God blessed you with lasting joy, peace, fulfillment, and purpose?