Every married couple wants to have a good marriage. No one stands at the altar thinking, “Well this is probably going to be really difficult, but I guess I’ll go ahead and give it a try.” Noooo, we go into marriage with high hopes and visions of romance and fun and never-ending adventure. At least that’s what my hubby and I envisioned. But everyday life, kids, in-laws, money, colliding personalities and other things seem to circumvent that dream, and we even find ourselves doing and saying things we never imagined we would.
In Stephen Arterburn’s book, The 7 Minute Marriage Solution, he points out how much more difficult we make marriage than it has to be. He states, “If we’re honest with ourselves, we all know the self-defeating thoughtless things we do everyday.” He then goes on to list some of those things:
We use put-down humor or criticize our mate in public
We try to change our mate into the “perfect” spouse
We run up credit card debt or secretly spend money
We nag and complain about our mate’s flaws
We manipulate, give the silent treatment, or say harsh things in anger
We hold grudges and refuse to forgive our mate’s mistakes
Arterburn gives us a simple way to build a strong marriage and it’s easier than you think:
STOP doing negative things and START doing positive ones. Wow! That is simple.
The things we need to STOP doing?
1. Stop clinging to unrealistic expectations
“Dashed expectations result from too little time spent getting to know the other person. Before marriage, both put their best foot forward, and the other foot is not exposed until after the honeymoon. And each partner is shocked to see how ugly that foot turns out to be.”
“You and your spouse can live happily ever after- but only if both of you are willing to work through the issues and differences you brought into the marriage.”
2. Stop obsessing on the past
“If you don’t build this bridge to the past- from where you are now to the cause of the pain- you will never truly know your spouse even after years of being together.”
3. Stop drowning in suspicion and jealousy
“If distrust exists in your marriage, begin now to take positive steps to uncover the causes and then work on those issues to rebuild trust.”
4. Stop trying to change your mate
“Trying to fix a mate with criticism and judging is like trying to alter a suit with hammer and nails.”
“Sometimes God does not remove the burden from us. Instead he does for us what he did for Paul: He gives us the grace and strength to bear it.”
5. Stop seething in anger and resentment
“There are ways to be angry and yet keep anger from controlling your life and ruining your relationships.”
“Some conflict in marriage is inevitable. But it doesn’t have to build a wall or destroy intimacy.”
6. Stop tolerating compulsions and addictions
“We’re in this marriage together, so together let’s work through the problem and get things back the way they should be.”
“Some situations should never be tolerated.”
7. Stop focusing only on your interests
“Relationship, especially the marriage relationship, forces selfishness out of you.”
“What little things can you do to improve your mate’s life or to make your mate’s day better?”
That last suggestion is your Call to Action today. Comment and let me know how it goes. Or visit my website at: www.buildinglastinglove.com
Next time: Things to START doing.