Jun 102018 1 Response

Don’t Overlook What You’ve Got

As someone who is regularly involved in the conflicts and struggles of the relationships of others, there are times in which I go home and thank Jenny for who she is, what she does, and what we have. I don’t believe we should revel in other people’s pain or misery, but there is a common-sense awareness that comes when dealing with the struggles of others.

For many couples, one of the easiest ways they could improve their individual life satisfaction and the state of their marriage is to simply recognize where they’ve been, what they’ve endured, and where they are. The old spiritual says, “Had the Lord not been on our side/Where would we be?” It’s a reminder that many things could’ve turned out differently, but God continually proves himself faithful through the seasons. It was true for the Old Testament psalmist, is true for the New Testament believer, and is true for many couples going through life with one another. (See: 9 Toxic Attitudes in Marriage)

Where Have You Been?

Appreciation in marriage goes a long way, but appreciation only follows recognition. We can’t appreciate what we don’t see. Sometimes we can be so entrenched in our daily lives and marriage that we fail to see the good things we have created and been given.

Consider:

What have we overcome? Every couple has obstacles and tough times. What is something which was a struggle in the past that is no more? By remembering what you’ve overcome, it reminds you that when you face new obstacles you aren’t hopeless. If you’ve overcome things in the past, you can overcome things in the future. Before a big moment, athletes often envision past times of when they were successful. It empowers them to repeat their success. The same is true of couples.

What have we learned? Hopefully, the early years of marriage began a pattern of learning. We have to understand new ways of behavior and thinking. But even if you didn’t start young, at some point you began to learn something about marriage. I often look at my past self and think about how ignorant I was. Chances are, my future self will look back at my current self and think the same thing. Aren’t you glad that you’ve learned some things through the years? Wouldn’t it be horrible to be just as ignorant now as you once were? Lessons learned are opportunities to grow our gratitude.

What have we outlasted? Some things you overcome and some things you just outlast. Marriage is full of seasons and some of those seasons are not fun. While simply lasting is not always the highest bar of success, there are times in which lasting is a major accomplishment. Not everyone does last. Many couples don’t make it. If you have made it through some tough times, rejoice.

What have we laughed at? Every morning my Timehop brings back before my eye funny sayings or events from the days of old. On a regular basis, I’ll be reminded of something funny one of my kids said or did and it will bring a smile to my face. Most marriages have experienced hilarious times. There have been moments of great laughter and joy. Remember those moments. Re-tell the stories. Recount the memories. Laugh again at what previously happened. Laughing at the memories of old influences how we interpret the events of today. The more we laugh at what was, the more likely we are to laugh and enjoy what is.

What have we grown to appreciate? In unhealthy couples, differences or misunderstandings can greatly frustrate, but in healthier couples, those same differences/misunderstandings can be appreciated. This doesn’t happen overnight. It often takes time, experience, and maturity to appreciate what once frustrated. What are some things about your spouse, marriage, or life that you have grown to appreciate? What are some small things that you never expected to mean so much to you? (See: Appreciation in Marriage)

It Could Be Worse

I regularly meet with couples who are enduring difficult times. On many occasions they will say something that sounds as though they think they are the worst couple I’ve ever seen. I’ll laugh and assure them that I’ve seen far worse. Just knowing they aren’t alone makes things seem a little better. Life can be hard. Times can be tough. But consider how things could be worse. Think about the times in which God has shown you grace that you didn’t deserve. Consider how you were rescued from some bad decisions and other things turned out better than you expected. Truly look at what you have in life and thank God for the good even while trusting him with the bad. (Consider these short prayers before you continue your day.)

One Response to Don’t Overlook What You’ve Got
  1. Y Reply

    So right! Great article!

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