A reflection on the day of our anniversary…
I actually celebrate two anniversaries. There’s the one where we eloped and the one a year later where we had the pastor, friends and family all there.
This reflection is on the occasion of our elopement anniversary.
When I look back on our near two-decade long marriage, I want to focus on the things we seem to get right. I tend to be good at spotting problems and issues in my marriage, so celebrating all the things we get right is a refreshing approach for me. Refreshing is a good thing.
My DH is a laid back, friendly and very likable kind of guy. He does not stress out under any circumstances. It’s the reason I married him. He is sorta kinda the opposite of me. Over time, however, those things that attracted me to him became the things that would often drive me nuts! But let me stop right here before I slide down that slippery slope to negative town.
Anyhoo, what I just did was describe things about my hubby that initially drew me to him. In truth, the things I loved about him were things I perceived I lacked within myself. In a sense, we are each other’s opposites. We compliment each other. I need him and he needs me. What we get right, first and foremost, we are committed to each other. That’s our foundation and it is strong and getting stronger with each trial we overcome.
I think for many who struggle in marriage, if we are honest with ourselves, part of our problem is our attitude. We see our spouses and only see what’s wrong. We focus on the negatives and that slowly erodes respect in our marriage. When respect goes, so goes the quality of the marriage, even the marriage itself!
Hence, the reason for this musing–If there is one gift I can give to those like me, the “Negative Nancy’s or Negative Nakeisha’s,” of the world is this: do your best to focus on the positives. You cannot change your spouse, but you can change yourself. You can control what you think about and as the good book says, “For as he/she thinks in his heart, so is he/she.” Proverbs 23:7 (AMP)
Are you way too negative when it comes to your spouse?
The things we dislike in our spouses are usually things we disown or dismiss about ourselves.
Think about that. We tend to excuse in ourselves what we condemn in others. This is nothing but hypocrisy clothed in self-righteousness. We can reject this behavior by choosing what we think about. What we think about will then effect what we speak about.
While celebrating our anniversary the other day, I announced to my husband on the way to the dinner that we were going to have a discussion.
“Okay,” he said, cautiously. He knows the history, so I totally understood the reaction.
“Nothing like that,” I assured him.
“I want to discuss all the good things we got right in our marriage and what we appreciate about each other,” I said.
And just like that, the tension in the car dissipated like steam from a teakettle.
Throughout our dinner discussion, we laughed, smiled and joked as we remembered our amazing vacations, all of our “firsts” and things about each other that we valued. What a difference words can make. Reflecting on all the things we got right, all the wins in our marriage created a sense that we are okay, we are on the right track and that we can go the distance no matter what.
Now, I know there are marriages with issues that just having a positive outlook and using positive words can’t remedy. I’m not communicating about those marriages, at the moment.
However, a lot of us ruin marriages because we are far too obsessed with trying to change our spouses, as if our lives depended upon it. Not so! Instead of blessing the spouse we married, we end up criticizing, nagging and discouraging. Our “discussions” simply become an underhanded way of getting our spouses to do what we want them to do, how we want them to do it.
Maintaining a positive outlook for some of us is the beginning of a refreshing and renewing in our marriages that is freeing to our spouses. He or she is freed from the hopeless task of trying to meet our expectations. We are also freed from trying to manage someone else’s life and can focus on our own!
Starting with our thoughts and allowing it to permeate what we say is a gift that keeps on giving and is something worth celebrating!
PS. THE CHALLENGE: spend a day reflecting on all the things in your marriage that works and what you value in your spouse. Share those reflections and make a commitment to focus on those positive qualities for a week. Notice how your attitude and speech changes.
Let me know how it goes!