Why It's Actually Great When Your Spouse Fails You

Raise your hand if you’re in a serious relationship and your significant other did something that utterly failed you. It’s an odd way to begin an article, but I can safely predict that 100% of us reading that opening sentence shot our hands into the air, or at least we did so in our heads.

I’m also willing to put myself on the line and assume that 100% of us didn’t really see it coming. We know that no one is perfect, and we’ve all experienced the frailties and failures of other people in our lives, but most of us are just so starry-eyed when we’re in the first few months of a relationship that we’re sort of aghast when the inevitable happens. Even years into a marriage, we are still taken by surprise.

Here’s what I’m proposing as we acknowledge the universality of human failure: When your significant other fails you, it’s actually very good thing.

It’s a reminder that no one but Jesus can be Jesus

First of all, no one other than Jesus can be Jesus to us. We know that he is perfect, and in his perfection and glory, he meets all of our needs, changes our hearts to be more like him, and he has earned our place in eternity with him. There is not a person on this earth that can be or do any one of those things.

When we acknowledge and remind ourselves that Jesus is the only one who can truly bring us joy, we put the people with whom we have relationships in their rightful place: beside us as fellow disciples and sojourners on this journey through life. Our significant others are our partners; they are not and never will be our saviors.

It’s a reminder about who God is 

When we remind ourselves of who God is and what he has done for us, we can’t continue to see our significant other as someone who will never fail us. It’s going to happen, and when it does, we can once again remind ourselves that God is our perfect creator who loves us so much, he sent his son to stand in our place and carry our sin to the grave.

It’s a reminder about whose we are

Likewise, when we remember who we are in light of all that God has done for us through Jesus Christ, we can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that we are secure in his love for us. We don’t need to have our “love cup” filled by anyone else.

It’s pretty great to be given the gift of a human who loves us back, but that love pales in comparison to the love of God. As with the reminders of who God is and what he has done for us, we need to remind ourselves often of how loved we are by God and then live in the overflow of that perfect love.

Forgiveness is good for us, too

Ultimately, when our significant other fails us, we are forced to remember that as much as we love that person, they are just that: a person. We have to turn our eyes back to Jesus and ask him to help us forgive the offense. That’s good for us, too, because most of us need to learn to flex our forgiveness-giving muscles. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, is it?

This morning my 12-year-old called his younger brother a shockingly unkind name. After a heart-to-heart with the offending child, he made the right decision to apologize, but apparently his apology went unrewarded. When I asked the offended brother if he had heard the apology, his immediate reply to me was, “Yes, but I told him I’m not accepting his apology at the moment.”

What followed that ungracious declaration was my exhortation that he remember Colossians 3:13and forgive his brother the way God had forgiven him, but I couldn’t help chuckling a little under my breath. In his immaturity, his actions illustrated to me how often my own heart wants to respond to others likewise: “I’m not accepting any apologies at the moment.” Thank you very much.

We know from studies conducted by experts, psychologists, therapists, spiritual advisors, and the Word of God itself that forgiveness is good for us. “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:9Friendships, family relationships, business partnerships, and marriages often end regrettably when forgiveness isn’t present.

 Harboring offenses and the inevitable disappointment that can accompany an intimate relationship from time to time hurts both parties in the long run.

A way forward

While we might acknowledge God’s perfection and what our relationship to him means for us, and while we might be able to forgive, a way forward can seem difficult. You may be so hurt that you can’t see clearly enough to ascertain the path in front of you. If so, let me be the one to encourage you to seek the help of the Holy Spirit. God tells us that if we ask for wisdom, he will give of it lavishly.The Holy Spirit is in our lives for that very purpose.

If you are in a relationship with someone who never keeps their promises, turns all of your hurt around to be your fault, and fails to honor their vows, your way forward may be through getting some professional help. It’s not a failure on your part to seek the wisdom and counsel of those who are outside of your relationship looking in. Seeking help could be one way God is showing his perfect love for you.

But, regardless of the outcome, we are also assured that God works all things together for the good of those who love him. When our significant other fails us, we have the opportunity to see God’s glory shine in our (and their) failure. Knowing and understanding God better because he always shows up amidst our human weakness is a gift beyond comprehension, and ultimately, it is just that human frailty that reminds us of how much we need his love!


Kendra Fletcher is a mother of 8, speaker, author, and podcaster. She is the author of Lost and Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace, and Leaving Legalism, and she regularly writes for Key Life Ministries. The Fletchers reside in California, where they play in the Pacific Ocean as often as possible. Find her here: www.kendrafletcher.com

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/vadimguzhva