6 Realities of Married Life

If anyone understands married life, it’s The Five Love Languages author Dr. Gary Chapman. But what about when your marriage is hard? Reality living offers truth that can strengthen any marriage. So we would like to share 6 realities of married life:

1. I am responsible for my attitude.

Reality living approaches life with the assumption that we are responsible for our own state of mind. Trouble is inevitable, but misery is optional. Attitude has to do with the way we choose to think about things. It has to do with focus.

2. My attitude affects my actions.

This principle of reality living reminds us that our attitude informs all that we say and do. If we have a pessimistic, defeatist, negative attitude, we will express it in negative words and behavior. At that point, we become a part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Attitude affects actions, and actions influence others. {Tweet This} This brings us to the third principle of reality living.

3. I cannot change others, but I can influence others.

The two parts of this reality must never be separated. That we cannot change a spouse is a truth we recite often, but we often overlook the truth that we can and do influence a spouse. Because we are individuals and because we have free will, no one can force us to change our thoughts or behavior. On the other hand, because we are relational creatures, others do influence us.

Every action you take and every word you speak influences your spouse for better or for worse. This means that your spouse’s words and behavior may cause you tremendous pain, hurt, or discouragement. But this reality also means that through positive actions and words, you can influence your spouse toward positive change.

4. My emotions do not control my actions.

The reality is that in relationships, actions are far more important than emotions, and actions need not be controlled by emotions. If you allow your negative emotions to control your behavior, you will feel even more negative. But if you choose to take positive actions in spite of your negative emotions, your emotions are likely to change; and your actions may have a positive influence on your spouse.

You can learn to acknowledge your negative emotions, but not to follow them. You should not deny that you feel disappointed, frustrated, angry, hurt, apathetic, or bitter, but you can refuse to let those emotions control your actions.

5. When I admit my own imperfections, it doesn’t mean that I am a bad person.

For all of us, our marital history is a mixed bag of good and bad behavior. Admitting past failures and asking for forgiveness is one of the most liberating of all human experiences.

Many people have found the following statements to be helpful in verbalizing their confession of past failures:

“I’ve been thinking about us, and I realize that in the past I have not been the perfect husband/wife. In many ways I have failed you and hurt you. I am sincerely sorry for these failures. I hope that you will be able to forgive me for these. I sincerely want to be a better husband/wife. And with God’s help, I want to make the future different.”

Whether your spouse verbalizes forgiveness or has some less enthusiastic response, you have taken the first step in tearing down the wall between the two of you. If the hurt has been deep, your spouse may question your sincerity. He or she may even say, “I’ve heard that line before,” or “I’m not sure that I can forgive you.” Whatever the response, you have planted in his or her mind the idea that the future is going to be different. If, in fact, if you begin to make positive changes as a spouse, the day may come when your partner will freely forgive past failures. Until then, you must concentrate on making positive changes.

6. Love is the most powerful weapon in the world for good.

The final principle of reality living declares love to be the most powerful weapon for good, and that especially applies in marriage. The problem for many husbands and wives is that they have thought of love as an emotion. In reality, love is an attitude, demonstrated with appropriate behavior. It affects the emotions, but it is not in itself an emotion. Love is the attitude that says, “I choose to look out for your interests. How may I help you?” Then love is expressed in behavior.

The fact that love is an attitude rather than an emotion means that you can love your spouse even when you do not have warm emotional feelings for him or her. That is why, in the first century, Paul the apostle wrote to husbands, “Love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her [by willingly dying on the cross].” Love can be learned because it is not an emotion.

Share with us… How do you feel about these 6 realities of marriage?

Abridged material taken with permission from Dr. Gary Chapman, Desperate Marriages: Moving Toward Hope and Healing in Your Relationship

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