My father-in-law has a profound little saying that sums up a biblical attitude spouses should have for one another. She’s not perfect, but she’s perfect for me.

Let’s examine the two parts.

She’s not perfect. By making this statement, the spouse reminds himself that he married another sinner. Too many partners are biting and devouring each other because they demand perfection. Many a wife has said, “I would have the perfect marriage if I had a more spiritual husband.” And many husbands are saying, “Why can’t my wife be more like this other woman?” In these unspoken thoughts we see unwillingness to accept the other person. We cannot see the log in our own eyes, but we can see clearly the speck in our spouse’s eye. We say to ourselves, “God has put me into his life to change him/her.” So we judge and nag and grumble and complain.

But in this process we miss our own faults. Then we miss out on God’s desire to work out in us certain qualities of forbearance, perseverance, humility, and acceptance. Forbearance is the quality of bearing with another’s sin when there will be no change. It is a fruit of the Spirit often translated as endurance. We are commanded to forbear with one another.

In this process we also miss out on the quality of accepting one another. We accept one another as Christ as accepted us in mercy, overlooking our sin.

She’s perfect for me. The second phrase is even more biblically foundational. A husband must affirm by faith that his wife is perfect for him. And a wife must believe that, even with all his faults, her husband is perfect for her. In the creation account before sin, God pronounces everything good—except one thing. It is not good for man to be alone. So God fashions a creature like him but unlike him—a woman. His purpose? To make a helper suitable to him. A helper that completes him. If Adam, before sin, needs a helper, then how much more do I need one? But sin has blinded us. We don’t see our need for help.

Like Adam, a man must be able to look at his wife and say, “In the grand mystery of God, he has provided this person to help me in ways I cannot even see. So Lord, I receive this good gift by faith even though I sometimes don’t think I need it.” A wife must be able to look at her husband and say, “In the grand mystery of God, he has provided this person to help me in ways I cannot even see. Lord, I receive him as a gift by faith.”

The doctrine of providence helps me even in the suffering that inevitably comes in marriage. If my wife is quarrelsome or difficult, then I can embrace this suffering as from God. If my husband is overbearing or passive, then I embrace this circumstance as part of God’s plan to shape me. Ultimately, marriage is about our sanctification.

He’s not perfect, but he’s perfect for me. She’s not perfect, but she’s perfect for me. Do you believe it?