The Surprising Way to a Stronger Marriage

The problem with marriages, we believe, is not a list of grievances. It’s how much each spouse is willing to take responsibility for those problems. Issues are just issues. Often couples are stressed out because neither mate is willing to do the right thing-unless the other does it first. Or one spouse wants to work on the marriage while the other has “checked out” long before the couple reached our door. There is hope for both!

However, it isn’t about what your spouse must do so that you can enjoy a satisfied and happy marriage. It’s about learning what you can do to help create an environment where a satisfied, happy and stronger marriage is possible. Here are 2 key thoughts that will help.

We are not slaves to our circumstances.

We have options. The driver ahead of us doesn’t force us to blow up at him when he cuts us off. Every reaction we display is our choice. We decide whether or not we’re going to be upset, sad, frustrated, mad, or hurt.

We can control our own emotions.

People, places, and things do not “make” us unhappy. We choose to feel unhappy as a result of what happens around us. It’s important to note that you can choose how you respond to events. True, you can’t control what happens to you at the hands of other people. If you catch your spouse in an affair, your initial reaction will come from your gut. It’s only natural. We’re not talking about controlling that fear and frustration when faced with hardships or heartache. We’re talking about controlling how you move forward and respond to tough circumstances.

If someone says something mean to me, it’s natural for me to feel hurt at first. But if I go home and take out my hurt on my kids or spouse, that’s my fault. If I lose sleep that night because I’m still ruminating over what happened, that’s also my fault.

The old saying that it takes two to save a marriage isn’t necessarily so. We’ve seen marriages experience the warmth and grace God intended because one spouse decided to make a change. That almost always results in the marriage-or any relationship for that matter-undergoing real change, usually in a positive direction.

Tell us! What has helped make your marriage stronger?

Excerpted from The Surprising Way to a Stronger Marriage, by Michael and Amy Smalley.

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