The smallest cultural group is marriage, and our spouse has significant influence on us. Some of the changes due to marriage are gradual, over years and decades, but they are still there. It has long been said marriage “civilises” men. While I suspect we all see indications this is true, a group of researchers decided to verify it. Dr. Burt, et. al. found men given to anti-social behaviour are less likely to marry, while marriage reduces anti-social behaviour. Bottom line – you probably are a better man for being married.
Of course, it can work the other way. Trying to keep peace in the home is a natural desire, and if a wife pushes it is tempting to give in to have peace. When she pushes for good things, it is annoying but ultimately good. When she pushes for bad things, it can get ugly. I have seen men whose ministries were limited or destroyed because of the influence their wife had on them – men of integrity lying, financially wise men going bankrupt, and so on. These things don’t happen overnight, they happen an inch at a time. Once he starts to give ground, holding fast becomes more difficult. Once he has compromised, once he has sinned, he loses the moral high ground.
What about you? If you see places where you are a better man for being married to your wife (the case for the vast majority) I suggest you thank your wife. If you see places where you have compromised, prayerfully work through it in your mind, decide what is right, and determine to do what is right no matter what. Let your wife know how you intend to change, without any accusation against her. If it becomes an issue, I suggest you find a brother to hold you accountable so you don’t slowly give up ground you have reclaimed.
In addition to your bride influencing you, you influence her. Your influence may be slow, and there may be areas where it seems to fail, but it is there. And, just as she can influence you for the worse, you can do the same to her. She is certainly responsible for her choices, but if she decides to sin because she sees you doing the same, you will answer to God.
Does Marriage Inhibit Antisocial Behavior? An Examination of Selection vs Causation via a Longitudinal Twin Design PDF here
S. Alexandra Burt, PhD; M. Brent Donnellan, PhD; Mikhila N. Humbad, MA; Brian M. Hicks, PhD; Matt McGue, PhD; William G. Iacono, PhD
In this series about how normative influence shapes our lives:
Why we follow the crowd
Letting others influence your actions
The smallest cultural group
Your marriage as a tool to being a better person
Is your social group inbred?
Is artificial society influencing you?
The voices in the marriage chamber
Wrap up on social influence