How many of us enjoyed an imaginary friend during childhood? I’ve been told my friend was Socky, a frisky alligator. Socky apparently enjoyed swimming in the toilet though I don’t remember him or his antics. He sounds like someone Mom made up to embarrass me in front of my wife and kids.

My brother, Jeff, took the imaginary friend concept to a new level. He created the Shiny brothers, Mean Shiny and Good Shiny. The Shiny twins never appeared simultaneously. Jeff spotted them as required, usually when a parental unit asked the penetrating question, “Who did this?” When nefarious deeds engulf them most children inherently know to blame Not Me, but Jeff told us Mean Shiny did it. Every time.

Having a target for the finger of blame is helpful in those times where we are caught in our actions with no means of escape. Visit the book of Genesis and read the original blame game. Adam blamed God for giving him Eve. Eve ratted out the serpent. The arrangement was convenient for the guilty parties but did not yield an escape from the consequences.

Marriage affords a ready solution to the need for a scapegoat. I can blame my spouse when life goes awry. With her years of field observation she should be able to sense what I need at any moment. My grunts and chopped sentences are ripe with easy-to-glean meaning, if she pays close attention. For any given event I can therefore extrapolate blame and direct it her way.

If I practice and perfect that technique over time care to predict the direction of the relationship?

The book of Deuteronomy instructs:

Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons. Deuteronomy 4:9 NASB

Give heed to yourself. Hmm! That phrase speaks to personal responsibility, in this case to watch myself closely in regard to God’s expectations for my life. That little word heed means to build a hedge around something valuable and guard it. Who’s to blame if my relationship with God loses its luster? Well, not Him!

Could the same idea apply to my marriage? Do I have responsibility for the health of the relationship? If improvements are needed should I be proactive in identifying and executing an action plan? Am I really perfect, never at fault for the mess ups and misunderstandings? Or does some portion of the blame rest on me?

Paul would later write:

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…” Ephesians 5:25 NASB

And he repeats the message a few verses later for those who missed it:

So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church…” Ephesians 5:28-29 NASB

The role of husband comes with responsibility. I am to view my wife as one worth sacrificing for to any degree necessary. I am responsible to care for her and look out for her best interests as I would for my own. The take-away words are nourish and cherish, not accuse and blame.

Drat! Another loophole closed!