Sometimes I struggle to be happily married – this is no secret to Eric. (He understands because he sometimes struggles too.) Some days it is terrifying to think, “This is for a lifetime,” especially when life gets busy and we find little time to connect. If I am not careful, those fears and negative thoughts can take over my mind and leave me questioning everything. Self-inflicted despair.
Looking at the whole fifty years at once makes any marriage seem overwhelming, which is why I am learning to take my marriage a day at a time. God knows what tomorrow has in store for me. Today is all I have, and today is where I will place my gaze.
One night when I was struggling with discontentment, I got out a notebook and jotted down ten reasons I am thankful for my marriage. Without trying, I came across plenty of reasons to be discontent. If there are so many reasons to struggle, maybe there are also many reasons to be thankful?
Here is what I came up with, and it only took me a few minutes.
How my marriage is a blessing to me:
- There is someone to notice me.
- There is someone to hug.
- There is someone to help me grow.
- There is someone with whom I can laugh and act completely goofy.
- There is someone to provide for me – both financially and emotionally.
- There is someone to fill the house with another heartbeat. Someone else to notice the noises in the basement.
- There is someone to listen to my ideas, insecurities, and to say, “move on” when I get stuck on a negative track.
- There is someone who deeply cares beside me. Even if we are going through a tough time, I know he is there and that he cares for me. He would not want to see me hurt and I would not want to see him hurt.
- There is someone who is strong where I am weak.
- There is someone else to help me carry the load.
I cannot read this list and remain ungrateful. God has blessed me with my husband, and God has blessed my husband with me. ~grin~ When I begin to feel downtrodden and overwhelmed at the thought of our differences and imperfections, I can ask:
- Am I hungry? As funny as it sounds, sometimes my blood sugar is the culprit. A little protein and suddenly I feel happily married again.
- Have I been filling my mind with lies? The more music, TV, and conversations we engage in that are contrary to what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy, the more anxious we become! (cf. Philippians 4:8)
- Am I being self-centered? Usually, I am – even if just a little. “I am not getting my needs met. I am not happy all the time. I am not the center of the universe. Waaaa!!!”
Gratitude is essential to a lasting relationship. Without it, we will ALWAYS be able to find doubts, fears, and headaches. All we have to do is leave our minds to wander aimlessly and we will never be without reminders of our loved one’s faults.
Once the honeymoon winds down and you begin to experience problems, you will need to turn to gratitude. Even if you have to verbally thank God for something about your spouse every day of your life, make sure to prioritize gratitude. Negative and positive cannot peacefully co-exist. If you are dwelling on one, the other gets pushed away.
Divorce begins in the mind. So does happiness.
Do you show gratitude in your relationship? How can you continue to show it to your spouse once you are married?