Something I learned a long time ago, when it came to my body, I was eating what I wanted and doing what I wanted not worried about the physical outcome. It lead to an unhealthy lifestyle that, because of an accident, empowered my doctor to give me some sobering news that changes needed to happen. Every day I was subtly hurting my health and not even realizing it. Change happened with tweaks to my life that lead to healthier living.
That’s what today’s marriage blog is about; looking at a few things that people do and don’t see the huge ramifications behind them.
Here we go…These are the every day “acceptable” things we do that are actually hurting our marriage.
1. Skimping on our relationship with God. Go for quality over quantity. I’d rather you read a few verses to ponder and digest than getting through Psalms 119 and not remember a thing. I’d rather 10 minutes of concentrated prayer than an hour of unfocused/distracted prayer in which you may or may not have fallen asleep. Get plugged into a church community. Serve in your church community. Engage in conversations with each other as well as your family. I love that Scott’s commercial, “Feed your lawn…feed it!” Do the say with your walk with Christ: Feed it.
2. Disregard for your spouses point of view. The most productive and healthy spouse embraces their mate’s point of view. He/she is able to get past “self” and values the opinion and insight of their spouse. In conversations, acknowledge their feelings and embrace their outlook. If all you see is what you want…if all you see is your point of view…if what your spouse cares about is small, minuscule, and unimportant to you, then you are belittling them. Not taking topics and items seriously that are important to them is making him/her feel less valuable day by day. It makes the marriage all about you and what you deem as “important.” Your spouse feels is he/she is living in a dictatorship and NOT a relationship.
3. Constant Negativity. The longer we’re marriage, the more apt we are to take our spouse for granted. Try to outdo your spouse with encouragement and edification. Be the first to express gratitude. Learn to celebrate everything. Just as a plant thrives in healthy environments, your marriage will thrive in an environment of encouragement and optimism. Living in a home heavy with negativity and pessimism doesn’t give your spouse a “dose of reality,” it dries them out on the inside. Like eating an over-cooked piece of cornbread and having every lick of moisture pulled from your mouth, negativity will suck your spouse’s life dry of passion, excitement, and joy.
4. Sarcasm. Marriage is fun (well…it should be). Having healthy doses of laughter will keep your marriage vibrant. Sometime life’s moments happen that are just plain funny. Couples can recount and laugh a bit. But there’s a point where teasing turns to sarcasm. Want to know the difference? Sarcasm always leaves a person feeling like a victim. Someone feels internally violated. Think about it, when sarcasm is used, it’s to make something bigger in order for someone to be made to feel smaller. Ask your spouse about it (without being sarcastic) and he/she will tell you. Work on it. Change it. Bring the fun back to your marriage.
5. Tolerating pornography in all forms. Stop porn at every level. Call it “soft porn” or “emotional porn,” but call it for what it is. As I stated in previous blogs “Eviction Notices” and “Who Needs Sex?,” this is not just a male issue. Both men and women can be stimulated by pornography and seduced into thinking it’s a help for their marriage. The goal of pornography is to skew the authentic with fantasy. Two of my biggest reasons is it causes (1)an unhealthy view of the human body as well as (2) unhealthy sexual expectations. Top it off with the addictive nature of porn devised to make you dependent upon it, you then have a monster that isn’t worth the amount of space it will take up in your thoughts. Who wants their spouse thinking/picturing something or somebody else during sex? Not me.
6. Entertaining wrong expressions of frustration. Learning healthy conflict is one of the greatest tools in your marriage tool-box. Cultivating healthy communication skills paves the way for deep levels of intimacy between the two of you. Forgiveness is the antidote of frustration. Dealing with your irritation through an attitude of redemption and resolution paves the way for healthy conflict. Conflict is unavoidable. Two humans living together, let alone married, is a breeding ground for conflict. Inviting passive aggression, social media rants, fighting in public, and venting spouse slander to your bff and/or family doesn’t help like you think it is. It’s seeding frustrations deeper. Healthy conflict does more than bring frustrations to the surface. It helps you solve them.
7. Putting anything else, outside of Christ, first before your spouse. Make your spouse feel like he/she and you are the only ones left on earth. Let them feel like, outside of Christ, he/she is your world. Note this: You and our spouse are the most important human relationship in this world. Marriage was created with that type of emphasis. Together, you give a view of the image of God. But placing anything and anyone before your spouse begins to break that down. Kids, jobs, ministry, friends, family, are all important and need focus. But none of them should hold a candle to how important your marriage is. Your kids need to see you put your spouse as priority. Your family and friends need to see that they have to right coming between the two of you. Let the two become one and let no one separate you.
There’s probably more to the list. There may be some you could add. But today isn’t about guilt. It’s about throwing up some red flags and helping steer you to recognizing subtle actions that could be hurting your marriage. If you see something, recognize it, confess it (to your spouse), and walk in repentance (change your thinking and go in the other direction).
Sometimes it’s the little, overlooked things that’ll get ya. But we’re going to be the marriages that overcome.
Thanks for letting me ramble…