Have you ever wished you could change your marriage? Maybe you were at odds with your spouse or maybe your marriage had just become mundane and predictable. Whatever it was, you didn’t like the way things were and you wished you could change things.
In a TED Talk entitled “The 3 A’s of Awesome,” Neil Pasricha tells of a time when his life needed a change. A difficult economy had cost him his job, his best friend had committed suicide and his marriage was falling apart.
When he realized he was sinking into despair and needed to do something, he started a website called 1000awesomethings.com. It was a way of turning his focus toward things that were good and worthy of gratitude. He didn’t change his circumstances and he didn’t change the people around him. He simply changed his focus.
You can get so caught up in the difficulties and frustrations of marriage you have trouble seeing anything but the unwanted. Sometimes you need a change of focus in marriage.
But like Neil Pasricha, you can turn it around by changing your gratitude. Notice I didn’t say changing your attitude. Changing your attitude seems like too big of a thing to do. But if you change something small…like your gratitude…it will go a long way to changing your attitude, as well as yourself and your marriage.
What is gratitude? Gratitude is the ability to see and show appreciation for good things; big or small. Gratitude is transformative. William Ward said, “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” Donald Curtis put it this way, “It is impossible to be negative while we are giving thanks.”
So how can you change your gratitude in marriage?
Remember. Changing your gratitude starts with remembering all that your spouse has already done for you. It started with their willingness to give up their singleness and freedom to be with you. It continued in a long list of little things:
- Watching movies they didn’t want to watch.
- Having sex when they had other plans.
- Adjusting their plans for yours.
- Getting things for you because you liked them.
- Bringing home needed income.
- Caring for kids.
- Making sure clothes were clean.
- Keeping the car repaired.
- Going to your parents when they would have rather gone somewhere else.
You could go on and on. Don’t over-look such things just because they are in the past. That investment of time, effort and energy deserves your gratitude.
Pay attention. To change your gratitude, you need to pay attention to the good things your spouse is still doing for you. I know it’s easier to focus on the frustrating things they’re doing, but typically the good things still out-weigh the bad. Are they still taking care of things like kids, house, cars, yard, etc.? Are they still bringing home needed income? Are they kind to you? Do they help you with things? If so, these and a host of other things are reason to be grateful. It might not be everything you wish, but that’s no excuse for overlooking what they are doing.
Express it. William Ward has said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” We go to great lengths to get our kids to say “thank you” when someone does something nice for them, but we act like it’s not important when it comes to our spouse. Failing to express gratitude to our spouse is the same as taking them for granted, and no one wants to be taken for granted. We all want to feel special, and saying “thank you” will make a person (and a spouse) feel special.
If you practice gratitude long enough, three things are likely to happen:
- Your gratitude will actually change the way you see and approach life. We tend to find what we’re looking for, so if you go through life looking for good things, you’re likely to find them.
- Your gratitude will make it easier to face unpleasant things. Helen Keller once said, “I thank God for my handicaps, for through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 alludes to this when it says, “Be thankful in all circumstances…” Gratitude will help you make the best of a bad situation.
- Your gratitude will create an environment that will make it easier for your spouse to change. It won’t guarantee they will change, but it will sure clear a path for them to change.
Changing your gratitude is one of the easiest ways to change your marriage and yourself. So to paraphrase William Ward…“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. How many of them have you used to say ‘thank you’ to your spouse?”
Let me challenge you to an experiment. Try practicing gratitude for the next seven days. At the end of those seven days, take note of the changes that have taken place in you and in your spouse. I think you’ll be surprised.
Copyright © 2016 Bret Legg