An insurance salesman said to his customer: “You’ve filled in this application all right except for one thing, Mr. Perkins — where it asks the relationship of Mrs. Perkins to yourself, you should have put down ‘wife’, not ‘strained'”.
The expectations and responsibilities of married life can certainly cause a strain at times! That’s why we have looked into How to Find Fulfillment When Married. After setting aside escape alternatives and discovering the way to meet ultimate needs through the Christ-Centered Life, we come to this question: What can I do to be a positive influence in my marriage?
Before some practical suggestions, we note that we cannot change anyone; positive character growth is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22,23). However, the Bible reveals that the believing partner can and should be a Godly influence in his/her home. For example, the apostle Peter counseled wives who have unbelieving husbands to primarily witness through their inner beauty and respect, rather than argumentation (1 Pet. 3:1-6). And the apostle Paul advised that a born-again spouse is a sanctifying influence in his/her family: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy” (1 Cor. 7:14). Although this doesn’t guarantee the salvation of unbelieving family members, the testimony of the committed Christian is spiritually valuable!
Now for a brief list of biblical guidelines for positive influencers.
1. Appropriate Christ as your Life.
“To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”
Instead of looking to your spouse to be a whole person, be complete in Christ! (Col. 2:10).
2. Forgive your spouse.
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).
Relinquish your husband’s/wife’s failures to God. He is the only Judge (Col. 3:13)
3. Pray for your spouse.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6, 7).
Intercession is the primary privilege of believer-priests! (1 Pet. 2:5).
4. Affirm his/her positive actions and attitudes.
“Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing … See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all” (1 Thess. 5:11,15).
It’s so easy to tear down, but edification makes your influence positive.
5. Allow Christ to be the Influencer through you.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” “You are the salt of the earth … You are the light of the world…” John 15:5; Matt. 5:13-15).
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” As the saying goes, “Don’t be a “thermometer” (dominated by others), be a “thermostat.” (Stay in tune with the Holy Spirit.)
6. Refrain from harsh criticism and name calling.
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Eph. 4:29).
I think that disqualifies “cussin” and name calling, right? ‘If you throw dirt, you just end up losing ground.’
7. Beware of “you” statements.
The second person pronoun–“you”– intensifies whatever you say. Praise is more direct, yet criticism is more offensive (Exod. 4:26; 5:17)
“The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish pulls it down with her hands”(Prov. 14:1; 11:29).
8. Address corrective issues as requests. Orient the appeal toward yourself.
In other words, if he should mow the yard more than once a mouth, ask: “It makes me happy when our lawn is cut…” After a week of TV dinners you ask her, “Dear, I really enjoy it when you have time to cook for us…”
Note the application of guideline 7.
9. Identify and make use of helpful resources.
“Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days” (Eph. 5:16 NLT). These opportunities include using the excellent books, videos, and internet resources available for Christ-centered discipling and family enrichment.
These guidelines assume local church involvement that offers worship, biblical preaching, fellowship, and accountability. Pastoral leaders reinforce biblical values: “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13:17). You can add to this preliminary list…
A woman seeking counsel from Dr. George W. Crane, the psychologist, confided that she hated her husband, and intended to divorce him. “I want to hurt him all I can,” she declared firmly. “Well, in that case,” said Dr. Crane, “I advise you to start showering him with compliments. When you have become indispensable to him, when he thinks you love him devotedly, then start the divorce action. That is the way to hurt him.” Some months later the wife returned to report that all was going well. She had followed the suggested course. “Good,” said Dr. Crane. “Now’s the time to file for divorce.” “Divorce?!” the woman said indignantly. “Never. I love my husband dearly!”
You probably have noticed that these biblical directives are useful in relationships in general, not only in marriage.
Our daily, relational influence can be either negative or positive: “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.'” “He who walks with wise men will be wise (1 Cor. 15:33; Prov. 13:20).
Guideline one is foundational. (Appropriate Christ as your Life.) Without the Abiding Life of Christ to provide you with selfless, unconditional love, these directives come across as an attempt at self-centered control. That won’t bear fruit.
And don’t blame yourself if/when your loved ones don’t measure up to the desires of your well-intentioned influence. They still have their free will–for better or for worse. Someone observed that the same sun that softens wax, yet hardens clay. The object of the influence makes the difference.
By God’s grace, be a vessel of positive influence for the glory of God and the well-being of your family.
 See Grace Notes: https://gracenotebook.com/how-to-find-fulfillment-when-married-part-1/
 A Family Discipleship Resource List in PDF is available here:
 Bits & Pieces, August 22, 1991.
Copyright 2011 by John B. Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint
this article in its entirety for non-commercial use with credit given.Biblical quotations (unless indicated otherwise) are from the New King James Version, Copyright 1982by Thomas Nelson.