I recently spent some time at rest and during that time I evaluated how things are going in my life. Let’s just say there was some room for improvement.
So I set out to make some changes in a couple of areas, one of which was my marriage.
My husband, Steve, and I are in our 21st year of marriage. We have 4 kids, ages 18, 16, 10 and 7. Life is in a busy season for us, full of abundance.
Steve and I are active at church and community activities and we share a strong value of family. I knew that we were committed to staying married, but when I looked at our marriage I realized that it was not thriving, and in fact was actually suffering. I suspect that a lot of marriages are in this state.
Let’s face it – knowing you will stick it out and actually feeling in love are two very different things. Having been married for over 20 years, I am not naive enough to think love is all hearts and flowers all the time. But, it dawned on me that it had been NOT hearts and flowers for too long.
The biggest thing that stood out for me was that I did not have a positive attitude towards Steve at all. We have juggled jobs, started business and even a period of unemployment over the past 5 years and it had taken its toll on our marriage. I found myself consistently feeling resentful and irritated with Steve, and it was making me miserable.
Of course, the only thing I could really change is myself, so I started there. Even though I did not really feel like doing it (see earlier comment on being resentful & irritated), I read a few marriage books just to get me thinking about the areas of our marriage and ways I could make changes.
I knew I could have a better attitude towards my husband, so I set out to make one change. I committed myself 100% to making this change for at least 5 days.
I decided to stop being negative – No nagging or snide comments.
I am generally a pretty positive person, so when I started out on my first day of not being negative, I was surprised how often I had to stop myself from automatically saying something negative.
By the end of day 2, I was simply stunned and ashamed of how often a negative thought came into my head about my husband and how often I was tempted to make some sort of negative comment.
During this time, I just made the change – I did not share anything with my husband about what I was doing. So, it is not surprising that he was braced for my comments to be negative, even when I was not saying something in a negative way. I had to clarify my meaning to him more than once, but I really tried to do it in a loving way and make sure he knew that I was not being negative.
After 3 days of actively monitoring my words, I began to feel better. I noticed that since I was just dropping my negative thoughts (I was not saying them, so I just moved on), I was much happier. I was not nearly as bothered by the things Steve did as I had been before my I began my experiment.
After day 5 Steve left on a camping trip for 5 more days. By the time he came back, I could not wait to see him.
Once he returned from his trip, I shared with him what I had been working on. I sincerely apologized for how I had been behaving and I asked for his forgiveness. I told him that I did not want a life where we felt obligated to stay in our marriage, I wanted a life where we enjoyed our marriage.
Literally in 10 days of working on my own attitude, I had fallen in love with my husband all over again. We reconnected in a way that has rocked my world since then, and I could not be happier or more grateful that I was prompted to make the change. In fact, it has spurred a lot of other positives changes for me, too.
Is he perfect? No. Did he contribute to the state of our marriage before the change? Of course he did, but it does not matter. What matters is that I was able to change my own attitude and that change prompted him to come along with me. Believe me when I say it does not matter who is right or wrong – being right will not give you a happy marriage.
It has been 7 weeks since I began my experiment. In that time, I have reflected on our marriage and I have come to suspect that a lot of marriages just go down the road of resentment and irritation until there is not much point in staying together any more. It terrifies me that we could have been on that path when just 10 days and a simple attitude change turned my marriage around like that.
It did not cost a dime, but the end result is priceless to us.