Dianne Barker is a super-practical woman of God who cares about relationships. In this Marriage UPGRADE, she offers practical wisdom for better spousal interaction (but the basic premise of expressing gratitude is true for all relationships).
"Marriage can bring out the worst in us," Dianne says.
I (Dawn) don't think anyone will dispute that. While marriage has the potential to grow and bless us, it certainly does point out all the rough spots in our character. Dianne's post today is a good way to deal with some of those "worst in us" days.
Dianne continues . . .
In younger days, when things didn’t go my way, I’d “have it out” with my husband—in my thoughts. I didn’t dare put my annoyance into words, but in my mind I gave him a hearty tongue-lashing. He had no idea.
And then I’d silently settle my ruffled feelings and sulk a while.
One day the Lord caught me sulking over a disappointed expectation and interrupted my pity party.
You could be praying about bigger things.
I’ve heard the stories.
- Husband leaves a devoted wife for someone else.
- Another wife struggles to stay with a husband addicted to pornography.
- Huge challenges overwhelm the grieving widow.
Yes. I could be praying about bigger things.
I wasted a lot of life pouting over small irritations—wishing I could change this husband of mine. The Lord has a way of putting things in perspective.
Instead of letting marriage bring out the worst in me, I decided to let it bring out the best.
Two choices changed me from the inside out: prayer and praise. I learned to pray about what my husband isn’t, and praise him for what he is.
Grumbling about everything he does wrong isn’t beneficial. Praying—taking concerns to my Father—is a positive use of emotional energy wasted on anger and pouting, which never bring change.
I looked for reasons to praise my husband, express appreciation, and compliment him. I wasn’t sure he noticed until I overheard him say to a friend, “My wife has a gift of encouragement. She brags about everything I do!”
Why not thank him for carrying out the garbage, mowing the lawn, filling my gas tank, and changing the oil?
A heart overflowing with praise and gratitude to the Lord can’t help expressing gratefulness in other relationships.
Listen to this.
“Just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so go on living in him—in simple faith. Yes, be rooted in him and founded upon him, continually strengthened by the faith as you were taught it and your lives will overflow with joy and thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6-7, Phillips).
Marriage needs constant nourishment. Does your relationship suffer the tatters of neglect?
Like a soothing ointment on a raw wound, gratitude promotes healing.
- List seven qualities about your spouse to praise God for daily (character qualities, talents, good deeds, spiritual commitment, love for the children, sacrificial work, financial contribution to the family).
- Pray, thanking the Lord daily for each of those qualities.
- Verbalize to your spouse at least one genuine compliment every day. “Honey, I really appreciate…” (a deed performed, wisdom shown, patience extended).
- Express affection every day through words and touch. Say “I love you” and hug each morning before leaving for work. Say “I missed you” and hug each evening after work.
- Find time to cuddle. If you’ve been ignoring each other, this may feel awkward. Do it anyway. God intended for us to enjoy marriage, not merely endure it.
Going overboard with gratitude will bring out the best in you!
Have you been skimpy with gratitude? If you're married, why not try these five steps to "overboard gratitude" today?
Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage TruckDown the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, and Christian Women in Media. (Post adapted from Help! I’m Stuck and I Can’t Get Out! The Maximum Marriage Maintenance and Repair Kit, available soon at www.diannebarker.com.)
Graphic adapted, courtesy of Ben White, Morguefile.