What I’ve Learned About Being Married Since I’ve Been Married

I’ve been happily married for a little over a year and a half now. So to begin this post let me preface it by saying that I am not an expert on marriage and I don’t claim to be an expert on marriage. I have made my share of mistakes so far, just ask my wife. I am still working each day on being the best husband I can be for my wife.

I believe what I have to say will benefit your marriage if you will have a receptive heart, keep an open mind, and continue reading.

With that said, if I was given the opportunity to sit down with a couple before they said “I Do,” here is the advise I would give them.

1) Fight for the marriage not with your spouse.
Not to be the bearer of bad news, but every married couple out there will tell you, at some point in the marriage you are going to have a disagreement. Just think about it for a minute, you have two very selfish individuals joining together in a very selfless relationship, so there is bound to be an argument about something along the way. Now let me throw this out there and see if it sticks to something: There is nothing wrong with getting into a fight. In fact, I believe all healthy relationships have fights on the journey of marriage. Where it goes wrong is how you fight. When you start to attack the individual instead of attacking the issue, then you’re going to run into problems with your marriage. Remember the goal whenever you begin to have an argument with your spouse. In the end, you are called to build each other up not tear each other down. What would change in your marriage if the next time you had a disagreement with your spouse, you focused on fighting for the relationship instead of fighting with each other?

2) Always assume the best.
One of the most commonly read passages at wedding ceremonies is 1 Corinthians 13. In that passage, it says love never keeps an account of faults but always assumes the best. How would your marriage be affected if you just applied this concept? What if instead of pointing out your spouses shortcomings, you pointed out their achievements. What if instead of criticizing your spouse, you complimented them. The next time your spouse does something that you like point it out. Tell your spouse what you admire about them. You’ll be surprised how much of a difference this will make in your relationship.

3) Spend time together.
Now it is good to every now and then get together with the guys or have a night with the ladies or even get away and have some alone time, but you need to make it a priority to spend time with each other. The only way that you’re going to get to know each other better, grow deeper in love with each other, learn about what makes each other tick; is to hang out together. You can’t be in a relationship with someone if you don’t have any relation with that someone. Intimacy comes from spending time getting to know the person you married. Cause believe me there is a whole lot you don’t know about the person you married when you marry them. So make a concentrated effort to get to know them. Schedule date nights together. Sit down at the table and eat dinner together. Find a TV show you both enjoy and watch it together. Plan an activity that you both love and do it together. You reap what you sow. In other words, you get out of the relationship what you are willing to put into it. So put forth the effort. Cause the whole reason why you got married in the first place was the fact that the two of you are better together.

4) Communicate and listen.
I put these two together cause I believe they go hand in hand. You can’t have good communication without listening. Probably 90% of the problems in marriages today can be solved through talking to each other and listening to what each other has to say. So many marriages fail because there were unspoken expectations going into the relationship. And so many other marriages fall apart due to the failure to listen to each other. Don’t be afraid to speak what’s on your mind. But remember to do it in a way that will lift each other up not tear each other down. Do it with the goal of benefiting the relationship not a personal agenda. Your spouse is your confidant. You should want to confide in them. They are your better half. You should want to listen to what they have to say.

I’ll leave you with this: focus on your marriage. Don’t concentrate on what others have. Don’t concern yourself with other people’s relationships. Don’t be jealous of what you see going on around you. Cause you never know what other people are going through. You never know what issues they are dealing with in their marriage. It might look like the grass is greener on the other side, but at the end of the day all that matters is what happens between you and your spouse. What would happen if each day you focused on how you could be a better husband? How would your relationship change if you concentrated on being the best wife you can be? How would our marriages be affected if we did one thing each day to become the spouse we were meant to be?

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Head in the Clouds

Recently I was flying from Boston to Charlotte and I was reminded of something that I believe will be very helpful to anyone who reads this. When the plane is on the ground it is subject to whatever weather is happening at the time, but as soon as the plane breaks through the clouds it is no longer held under the circumstances going on below.

If you have never flown before you wouldn’t know about this, but if you have then you have experienced this phenomenon. You see no matter what the weather may be below the clouds, once you get above the clouds, the sun is always shining. You see if planes were to travel below the clouds they would be subject to the turbulence going on around them. In order to experience smooth sailing, they must break through the clouds and rise to a higher altitude.

The saying goes “Your attitude determines your altitude.” In other words, your attitude directly affects your altitude. You can’t expect to fly above the clouds if your attitude is in the gutter. My college baseball coach always told us the only things in life you can control are your attitude and your effort. Legendary football coach Lou Holtz once said “Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.” You can’t control what takes place in life but you can control how you react to it. The way you respond to the circumstances and situations in life will ultimately determine your results.

Recent studies show that severe prolonged stress and chronic negative thinking can compromise the immune system. By the same token, studies have also revealed that individuals with a positive attitude toward life tend to become sick less often than those with a negative attitude. It is also believed that a healthy upbeat attitude can in itself mobilize and stimulate the body’s defenders. For example, in a study of women with breast cancer, Dr. Sandra Levy at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cancer Institute found that women who were more depressed had lower natural killer cell activity than those with a hopeful, positive outlook. It was also noted that the women who had experienced a great deal of joy and happiness in their lives also had a higher survival rate.

In the beginning of the apostle Paul’s third letter to the church in Colossi he writes “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2) In other words quit your lowly thinking. Get your head in the clouds. Your thoughts will either keep your plane in life grounded or they will elevate it above the clouds.

How are you going to respond if you get a bad report from the doctor? How are you going to react the next time you receive some bad news? Are you going to choose to make lemonade when life gives you lemons? Are you going to continue to walk through life with the attitude “Woe is me”? The decision is up to you.

Difference Maker

There is a story of a young boy walking up and down the beach picking up starfish, that had been washed up onto the shore, and throwing them back into the ocean. An older gentleman, seeing what the young boy was doing, approached him and said “There are thousands of starfish that have been washed up on shore, you’ll never be able to make a difference.” The little boy picked up another starfish, threw it back into the ocean, looked at the old man and said “I made a difference to that one.”

In today’s world we have bought into the mindset that in order to be able to make a difference, we have to accomplish something as significant as finding a cure for cancer. We believe we can only make a difference if we are in a position of power like the President of the United States. We think that we have to be some type of celebrity or famous person in order to make a change in our world.

In the story mentioned above we see that it doesn’t matter who you are, you can still make a difference. It doesn’t matter how minuscule the task you are doing, you can still make a difference. It doesn’t matter how young you are, you can still make a difference. It doesn’t matter what other people say or think, you can still make a difference.

Making a difference is based on two things:

1) Your perspective.

If the young boy in the story was focused on the thousands of starfish on the beach instead of each individual starfish, he would have quickly lost hope. As a whole it didn’t look like the boy was making much of an impact, as the old man had pointed out, but individually the boy was making all the difference in the world. In other words if you were to compete in the Boston Marathon, in order to finish the race, you can’t be focused on the distance you have left to travel or you will find yourself overwhelmed, you have to concentrate on just putting one foot in front of the other. It all boils down to your answer to the question “Is the glass half full or is it half empty?” You have to focus on the distance you’ve traveled and not on what you still have left. If your perspective is on how far you have come instead of how far you still have to go, then you’ll start to see that you’re making a difference.

2) The individual.

Jesus said “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) Most of the time, we never realize how much of an impact something we do can have. A simple hug could seem very insignificant to you, but to the person receiving the hug, it could mean the world. Your pocket change might not amount to much, but in someone else’s hands it could go a long way. Picking up the phone and calling someone you haven’t talked to in a while doesn’t look like you’re making an impact, but to the individual on the other end of the line you could be making all the difference.

Don’t allow other people’s opinions keep you from making an impact. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re too young or too old to make a difference. You don’t have to wait for someone’s permission. Start making a change today. Be a difference in someone’s life today. Go out and make history.

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