These days, the subject of climate change is all over the media. Though there are differing opinions on the subject, one thing is for sure. Marital climate change is real.
Climate change is said to be the gradual warming of our atmosphere due to the increased emission of greenhouse gases. It’s being blamed for an increase in average temperatures, erratic weather patterns, increased flooding, rising sea levels, and more.
Marital climate change is much the same. Spouses release things into their marriage that gradually changes the atmosphere of the marriage over time.
Maybe you’ve felt a climate change in your marriage? Maybe your marriage has slowly become dry and arid. Maybe you’ve noticed the level of emotion slowly rising to flood stage. Though these changes are usually gradual, they can have detrimental effects.
Like greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, there are things that get into the atmosphere of our marriage that can create marital climate change. Things like…
- Taking your spouse for granted. – When you were dating, you pursued them. That’s one of the things that made them fall in love with you. So it makes sense that if you start taking your spouse for granted it will change the climate of the relationship.
- Not spending time together. – Again, when you were dating you tried to spend as much time together as you could, even if it was just sitting together doing nothing. I know things are different when you’re married and you don’t always have that luxury, but not spending time together will cause the climate of your marriage to decline.
- Focusing more on you than your spouse. – Early in the relationship, you would sacrifice what you wanted for what they wanted, but the longer you’re married, the easier it gets to be selfish and focus on what you want. This will negatively change the climate of your marriage.
- Not showing your spouse appreciation. – Remember those early days when you would tell them what you appreciated about them? Remember how good if felt, not just to get that appreciation, but to give it? We need to show a lot more appreciation to our spouse if we want to stave off marital climate change.
- Forgetting to be courteous. – Saying “Thank you” and “Please” is a small thing, but it’s powerful. That’s why we work so hard to teach these habits to our children. Small acts of courtesy go a long way toward building a good climate in your marriage.
- Not regularly affirming and encouraging your spouse. – I don’t care how confident and self-assured your spouse appears to be, they need to be affirmed and encouraged often. Everyone wants to feel special, and theres no opinion that counts more to your spouse than yours. You need to regularly encourage and affirm your spouse, because if you don’t, someone else will…and the climate will definitely change.
- Letting communication slide and fall off. – Hopefully, the longer you’re married the better you know your spouse. That’s a good thing, but it can lead you to stop talking to them as much, because you assume you know what they’re going to say. When this happens, you start making decisions without your spouse’s input, and the climate turns drab.
- Having big negative reactions to small things. – When you live under the same roof, , little things can start to get on your nerves. This is normal and to be expected. The problem comes when you start acting like those little irritants are big things. No matter how you may feel, there are very few hills in marriage that are big enough to die on. So learn to let some things go and watch the marital climate improve.
- Failing to maintain a regular and consistent sexual relationship. – There’s a lot more to marriage than just sex, but the sexual relationship is a good barometer of the climate in a marriage. Despite the stereotypes, a regular and consistent sexual relationship is important to both husbands and wives, and when this begins to wane, you can be sure a storm is already brewing.
- Not doing things together. – Doing things together, even if it’s chores or running to Walmart, has a way of strengthening the climate in your marriage. Now if doing things together makes things worse between the two of you, chances are (1) you have different ways of seeing and doing things and need to re-read the above point on focusing more on your needs then your spouse’s needs, or (2) the climate has already changed.
Maybe you’re experiencing marital climate change. The good thing is that marital climate change can be reversed. How? By beginning to reduce the amount of the marital greenhouse gases you’re releasing into the atmosphere of your marriage. (If you can’t resist, you can insert bathroom humor here.) Try the following experiment. (Remember, this is just an experiment.)
- Look over the above list.
- Identify two or three things to which you could plead guilty.
- Of those two or three things, pick the one you think is most important.
- Make a real concerted effort over the next 2 months to change that thing.
- Now this is important…Don’t tell your spouse you’re doing it. Just go about making that change quietly.
- Then, over the course of those 2 months, watch to see if the marital climate change for the better. If it does, pick another change to try. If it doesn’t…well it was just an experiment.
You can be the master of climate change, so go and change it!
Do me a favor and tell me about other types of “greenhouse gases” that you think are detrimental and create marital climate change.
Copyright © 2014 Bret Legg