This graphic speaks volumes to those who have had marital conflict. Both sides draw a line in the sand, refusing to cross over to meet their partner halfway. She thinks she is right and he thinks he is right. Even if there is no out right fighting, battle lines have been drawn.
Drag this scenario out a few years and it begins to feel like there is no hope for change.
I once read an article that started out with a question, “Does a good God want me in a bad marriage?”
That is a loaded question. We know God is good. We know that he loves us and wants us to succeed. If our marriages are not succeeding, if we are thinking they are bad marriages, is that permission to bail — or maybe an opportunity to take a look at what is causing us to feel the marriage is bad.
I read a quote once that has stuck with me since. It is one I use often and adjust for application. I don’t know the author, (if you do, please let me know so I can give appropriate credit) or I would thank them over and over for helping me sort out this crucial truth.
Here’s the quote:
“Its not what happened to you that hurt,
its the belief you created around what happened, that hurts.”
If I apply this to marriage, maybe it can go something like this:
“Its not my marriage that is bad, but the belief I created around my marriage that causes me think its bad.”
Maybe it is attitude.
I’ve always loved this quote:
“…everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” — Viktor Frankl
Viktor Frankl was a Holocaust survivor. He’s the author of an amazing book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” and he’s also an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist. It makes me re-think my attitudes every time I re-read this quote.
My last quote on attitude, this is my favorite. I’ve often referred to this as the best map for course correcting attitudes and behavior. (I know this has been attributed to many people. For this purpose, I am going with the Quote Investigator’s position).
“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
Late President of the Bi-Lo Stores
A lesson from the oyster:
Remember being taught this in science or maybe in church?
When a foreign substance lodges in the oyster, working its way into the muscle an irritation develops. Responding to the irritation, the oyster covers the foreign substance with a secretion. The longer this little irritations is there, the more the oyster coats it. Then something miraculous begins to happen. The oyster begins to accept the irritation as its own and begins to change the irritation into something amazing — a beautiful pearl. Oddly, no matter the current or weather condition of this pearl’s host, no storm or hurricane dislodges it. After some time, the oyster is pulled from the bed where it has resided for many years. As it is opened, a beautiful pearl is revealed. What was once an uninvited grain of sand or irritation is now a beautiful jewel. Each oyster produces its own variation of a pearl as it works to change this bothersome uninvited problem into something wonderful.
The problems we face in marriage can be much like this pearl when we handle them well. When we work together, when we let go of needing to be right, when we sacrifice for one another and for the relationship.
What kinds of things are irritating you? What is affecting your attitude and causing you to blame more than take responsibility for being the change?
Being the change requires us to let go of our pride, set aside selfishness and look deep within ourselves. Being the change requires humility and meekness. Being the change requires us to listen to our spouse, rather than demand to be heard.
If you feel weighed down in your marriage, let go of the anchor holding you. Get up, help, serve, share and love. Be the change.
Marriage is not meant to be the irritation of your life. Marriage is meant to be the jewel you create from the experiences you share in mortality with the one you love.
“Say love” a favorite song of my by Hilary Weeks is a great way to remember to be mindful of the words we say, and the things we do that do not lift.
Be the change. Do more with your marriage than just get along!