I’ve worked with couples long enough to know that when they typically start seeking help, they’re looking for some real change in their marriage. They’ll say something along the lines of improving their communication, fighting less, or working through issues regarding their intimate lives. One commons statement is something along the lines of, “We’re good except for our _______.” The only problem with this is that there is rarely a couple who actually knows that main thing they need to work on. Not really knowing is not a weakness. It’s simply human nature. We don’t always know where to focus.
Alright, I want you to take just a couple of minutes (literally) and watch the video below. Seriously. Please take the one minute and 41 seconds needed to watch the video because it makes an incredibly strong point for the rest of this article.
So, how’d you do?
The reason that half of us miss the unexpected events in the video is because our focus is on one task or event.
So often, we do the same in our marriage. We focus ourselves on one event (communication, arguments, our sexual relationship) and we briefly forget that humans are complex individuals and a simple solution just doesn’t seem to work.
Why marriage work is so hard
I really do believe that marriage can be tough but that it’s still totally worth doing. And, we can have a marriage that’s thriving, not just surviving. Because while marriage is sometimes difficult, it’s also a great way to grow in our sanctification and become a little more Christ-like. Marriage forces you to lose some of your own selfishness and focus on someone else. It can also be fertile ground for God to show you areas in your life that you need to change. Iron sharpens iron, friend, so getting into a covenant relationship with another Christian gives God some great opportunity to refine you.
Expand your focus
So, how can you do the hard work of making your marriage better? Make sure you have the right focus.
- Refuse to focus on the problem only.
When you watched the video earlier, you probably missed at least one of the ‘weird’ events. Either the gorilla, the curtain, or the player leaving was something that happened without you noticing. The same thing can happen in marriage. We can miss the areas of our life that are affecting our “problem.” Don’t look too intently at what you believe the problem to be. Remember, you can miss the bigger picture when you focus only on your big problem.
- Consider all pieces that could be impacting your problem.
Scripture tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” We are so beautifully complex! But that complexity means that it can sometimes be hard to find a working solution. Think about other factors that could be impacting your problem. Do you have physical illness or complication that needs to be checked? Are you suffering from emotional complications such as depression or anxiety? Do you need to work on your spiritual life and grant forgiveness to your spouse for past hurts? To really solve a problem, all pieces of your life should be examined to find those complicating issues.
- Focus on the solution.
One of the most effective ways to keep a problem occurring over and over again is to focus more on the problem than the solution. Again, like the video above, we are usually only aware of what we put our focus on. Focusing on the problem will be a constant reminder of what needs to change, but gives you little hope for an actual solution. Instead, focus on solutions that the two of you can put in place. Work as a team and refuse to continue in the problem behavior.
- Get a supportive group in place to help you focus on improvement.
Have you ever heard it said that you are a byproduct of the people you surround yourself with? It’s so true! Surround yourself with people that are upbeat, forward-focused, and joyful and that’s going to rub off on you. Surround yourself with people who are severely unhappy, and you’re likely to take on that negative mood. If you’ll surround yourself with other people that are supportive of marriage and have a little bit of experience in working through hard times, you’ll start to believe that you can have a good marriage too. And, what we believe in our hearts really does become our reality. If you’re looking for supportive community, I highly recommend you join my community group.
My hope for you is that your marriage continues to grow and that the two of you walk out a Christ-like type of love with one another. Challenge yourself to love more deeply today than you did yesterday.
Blessings on you and your marriage!