Think of something you just don’t want to do. Maybe it’s cleaning the garage or organizing your closet. Perhaps it’s giving the dog a bath or cleaning the bathroom. It could be cleaning the gutters or working on your taxes. Or maybe it’s that mammogram or colonoscopy you’re avoiding like the plague.
We all have things we don’t want to do. We put them off, because they’re no fun.
Likewise, there are things in marriage we don’t like to do, so we put them off. Things like:
- Spending more time doing what your spouse wants to do.
- Getting control of your finances.
- Improving your relationship with your in-laws.
- Listening more.
- Talking more.
- Taking your spouse away for a weekend.
- Picking up after yourself.
- Giving your spouse that apology that’s long over due.
We know what we need to do in our marriage, and we know doing it would make our spouse happier and our marriage better. Yet, we don’t do it. Why?
There are many reasons we don’t do what we know we need to do in marriage. Here are a few:
- It’s hard. We want marriage to be easy. When it’s not, we think there’s something wrong with the marriage or our spouse. (Because it couldn’t be us.) But like any other worthwhile endeavor, there are parts of marriage that are easy, and parts of marriage that are hard. You can’t have one without the other. It’s a package deal.
- Our pride gets in the way. “Why should I have to do that? I work hard all day. They can do that!” “Why should I apologize? They started it!” “Maybe I didn’t handle that well, but it’s nothing compared to what they did!” This is the sound of pride snuffing out the oxygen to your brain…as well as your marriage. Pride keeps you from humbling yourself and doing what needs to be done.
- We don’t like feeling vulnerable. Doing what you need to do usually involves a measure of humility and submission…both of which leave us feeling vulnerable. Often when I’m talking to someone about what they need to do, they responds with, “But what if my spouse doesn’t do what they should do?” We fear we’re going to be taken advantage of and do more than our fair share. We feel vulnerable.
- We avoid conflict. Some times, what you need to do in marriage could produce some conflict. Many spouses tend to avoid conflict. Maybe their mom and dad hid conflicts from them when they were growing up, so now they believe a good marriage should be free from conflict. Maybe when they were growing up, conflict between their mom and dad got out of hand, and so they try to avoid conflict because they don’t want to go there. But conflict…when it’s handled well…can strengthen and improve a marriage and should not be avoided.
- We’re lazy. Let’s be honest. Sometimes we don’t do what we need to do in marriage, because it’s hard work and we’re just lazy. We don’t like to admit to being lazy, so we make excuses like we’ve worked hard, we’re mentally drained, we deserve a break, we need to set boundaries, the stars aren’t aligned, the circus is in town….fill in the blank. But more often than we want to admit, we just get lazy and stop doing what we need to do.
So, if there’s something in your marriage you know you need to do, what should you do? To rob a phrase from Nike…JUST DO IT! Yes, it’s easier said than done, but it still needs to be done.
Here are some things that will help you just do it!
- Don’t hesitate. The minute you realize there’s something you need to do in your marriage, start doing it. Don’t hesitate. If you hesitate, the odds of you not doing it will dramatically increase. In your hesitation, you’ll argue with yourself, rationalize it away, or wind up being distracted by something else. Don’t hesitate…do it.
- Don’t make excuses. One night my daughter who was three or four years old at the time, came down the hall with the ruffles from her underpants trailing on the floor behind her. When I asked her what happened to her ruffles, she said, “The rats in my bed pulled them off!” (I promise there were no rats in her bed!) We can always find or fabricate an excuse for not doing what we know we should do. But excuses keep us from getting to where we need to be. No one likes to take the time to stop and put gas in your car, but we all do it, because we know excuses will not help us get from point A to B.
- Don’t do it half-way. Someone once said, “A job half done is not done at all.” A job done half-way speaks of a half-way commitment. Whatever it is you need to do in your marriage, don’t do it half-way. Do it as if your marriage depended on it…because it might.
- Don’t expect immediate results. If, in your marriage, you suddenly start doing what you’ve been putting off and avoiding for a long time, don’t expect it to immediately change things with your spouse. Chances are, your efforts will be met with skepticism at first, because they will appear as a ploy or manipulation. Whatever it is you need to do in your marriage, you need to do it consistently from here on out…without having to be prodded. When your spouse sees that your efforts are a life-style change, and not just an attempt to get out of the doghouse, then you will see them respond in kind.
Every spouse has something they need to do in their marriage that they’ve been putting off and avoiding. I know what mine is. What about you? (If you can’t think of anything, I’m sure your spouse has a list.)
If I asked you, “What would your spouse say you needed to do more in your marriage?” what would that be? Your answer to that question is where you need to start.
Copyright © 2016 Bret Legg