Is Your Marriage Out of Focus?

When you go to have your eyes checked, the first thing they do is determine your focus. They want to know what you’re able to focus on and what you’re not.

Just like your eyes, the health of your marriage has a lot to do with your focus. And just like your eyes, your focus can change over time.

IN THE BEGINING

When I officiate a wedding ceremony for a young couple, I lead them through vows that sound something like this…

“Do you promise to love and cherish (insert name) for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do you part?”

As I’m leading a couple through these vows, I know that even though they’re repeating the words, they’re really only focusing on the “better, richer, health” side of things. And it’s this focus that produces the “honeymoon” period, where they are deeply in love with one another.

A MARRIAGE OUT OF FOCUS

But, over time, spouses begin to shift from focusing on the “better” to focusing on the “worse.” Our focus on our spouse shifts:

  • From how they build us up to how they let us down.
  • From their endearing qualities to their irritating traits.
  • From what they use to do for us to what they fail to do for us.
  • From their faithful commitment to their lack of chemistry.

It’s funny how couples start off focusing on the positive, but as time goes on, their focus shifts from the positive to the negative. It’s this shift in focus that changes their appreciation for one another and turns the tide in their marriage from high tide to low tide.

When this happens, the marriage is out of focus and the couple needs to refocus.

REFOCUSING

Always remember that when it comes to marriage:

  • Your focus determines your attitude.
  • Your attitude determines your actions.
  • And your actions determine your outcomes.

You would be surprised at how you can change your feelings about your marriage simply by changing your focus. And it is possible to change your focus. Here are a few things that will help you refocus:

  • Pull out your wedding album and spend time looking at the photos.
  • Tell stories of your wedding, your honeymoon, or the first years of your marriage.
  • Talk about what you found attractive about one another.
  • Every day, find one thing about your spouse to appreciate and be thankful for.
  • Find some act of kindness to do for your spouse each day.
  • Remember how you use to flirt with one another and put more of that in your marriage.
  • Compliment and encourage your spouse at least once a day.

Try doing these things for a month – even if you don’t feel like it! You will be surprised how this will refocus your attitudes and actions toward your spouse.

Just like the health of your eyes depends on their ability to focus properly, the health of your marriage depends on your ability to focus properly.

What are you focusing on?

What Can You Do If You’re Dissatisfied With Your Marriage?

If you’re dissatisfied with your spouse or your marriage, you’re not alone. As we saw in the last post, it’s not that uncommon. But the big question is, what do you do about it?

In this post, we’ll look at what you can do if you’re dissatisfied with your marriage.

ARE YOU DOOMED TO BE DISSATISFIED IN MARRIAGE?

Just because every marriage experiences occasional dissatisfaction doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be dissatisfied in marriage.

I once knew a couple who had been married for 74 years. One day, I asked them how they had managed to have such a long and strong marriage.  The husband told me, “Son, sometimes when I would get frustrated with her, I had to learn to shut my mouth and go for a long walk.” His wife started laughing, and said, “He wasn’t the only one who had to go for a long walk!”

Despite times of dissatisfaction, this couple had a wonderful marriage of 74 years. So, even though you may experience some dissatisfaction from time to time, know that you can still have a great and lasting marriage.

WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOUR DISSATISFIED WITH YOUR MARRIAGE?

Being dissatisfied in your marriage doesn’t necessarily mean you have a bad marriage, but it does mean you have some changes to make. You may think your spouse is the source of your dissatisfaction, but a lot of your dissatisfaction has as much to do with you as it does with your spouse.

So if you want to turn your dissatisfaction around, you (not your spouse) need to start making some changes. Here are a few things you can do:

Stop Comparing Your Marriage to Others.

It’s easy to be envious of other marriages that seem to have it all together. When you see them out to dinner, at church, or on social media, they look happy and seem to have a great marriage. But you would probably be surprised if you could see behind the scenes. No couple is perfect, and every couple has their own struggles.

I am not saying there aren’t couples out there who have great marriages. There are. But their marriage is great because they have learned what works for them. And what works for them won’t necessarily work for you and your spouse.

So stop comparing your marriage to other marriages that look great, and instead, start making your marriage great.

Curb Your Expectations.

We all have expectations about how we think our spouse and marriage should be. Expectations are a part of being human.

But too often, our expectations are unrealistic. Just as you would be hurt and frustrated if your spouse held you to their expectations of the perfect spouse, so will they feel hurt and frustrated if you do the same.

So learn to curb your unrealistic expectations.

Give Your Spouse the Benefit of the Doubt.

Your spouse didn’t marry you so they could make you miserable. That was not their intention when they uttered their wedding vows, and it is probably not their intention now.

It’s easy to get our feelings hurt and then to take everything personally. But most of the things you take personally, have little to do with you, and more to do with your spouse.

So assume that your spouse loves you, that they didn’t mean it in the way you heard it, and that they’re not just trying to get your goat.

If it continues to bother you, kindly ask them about it, but otherwise, give your spouse what you would want…the benefit of the doubt.

Stop Seeing Differences As a Threat.

We talked about this in the last post. When we’re dating, we believe we’re attracted to our partner by all we have in common. But in reality, it’s our differences that attract us.

Those differences seem novel at the time. But, after the “I do’s,” those differences start to lose their appeal. Rather than attracting us, those differences begin to aggravate us. They get under our skin, and we start seeing the differences as flaws in our spouse that we need to correct.  (By the way…trying to correct your spouse’s “flaws” won’t win you any points. Trust me!)

The differences between you and your spouse are not there to aggravate you. They are there to grow you. Those differences are there to help strengthen your weak areas and to compliment the things you lack.  Those differences are also there to teach you how to be humble and gracious. In reality, your spouse’s differences are a gift, rather than a threat.  The more you can see this, the less dissatisfied you’ll be.

Change Your Focus.

Many of us are better at pointing out what’s wrong than celebrating what’s right. It’s easier to focus on what we don’t like about our spouse and our marriage, than on what’s good about our spouse and our marriage. This can be caustic.

Whatever you focus on tends to set your attitude and approach to things. So if you focus on that with which you’re dissatisfied, you wind up fueling your dissatisfaction and killing your gratitude.

Philippians 4:8 encourages us to focus on what’s good and right and commendable. If you learn to do this in marriage, you’ll be surprised at the difference it will make.

Show More Appreciation than Disappointment.

If you’re experiencing dissatisfaction in your marriage, you probably feel under-appreciated. But I’m betting your spouse feels the same way.

It is so easy to stop showing appreciation to your spouse and to start taking them for granted…leaving them starved for appreciation. How do you know if your spouse needs appreciation? If they’re breathing, they need appreciation.

Appreciation is the one gift that costs you nothing to give and produces tremendous benefits when you do. Be lavish in showing your spouse appreciation…even for the small things.

IN THE END…

Will doing these things make every day of marriage as happy as a broadway musical number? Nope! But doing these things will make you more aware and grateful for the great things about your spouse and your marriage. And as your gratitude increases your dissatisfaction decreases.

So, laugh in the face of your dissatisfaction and get to work!

Deuteronomy 4 – Focus!

Focus! If you’re a photographer, this means to train your lens on the most important part of the photograph, making it sharp and clear. If you’re someone with a touch of ADHD and facing a lot of demands, it means to train your mind on the most important thing at the moment…so as to not get sidetracked or pulled away.

As the Children of Israel prepared to cross over into the Promised Land, I imagine their hearts and minds were crowded with lots of thoughts, fears, excitements, dreams, anticipation, apprehension, memories, etc.

Read more

Selective Memory in Marriage

Wife: “Don’t forget we’re going to my parents this weekend to help them with that project.”
Husband: “What project?”
Wife: “Remember, they’re redoing their living room, and we have to help them move all the furniture and repaint.”
Husband: “You didn’t tell me we were doing that this weekend!”
Wife: “Yes I did. I told you Wednesday, when we were coming home from church.”
Husband: “I didn’t think you were talking about this weekend!”
Wife: “I swear you have a selective memory. You only remember what you want to remember!”

Sound familiar? The particulars of the conversation may be different, but most of us have experienced similar conversations.

Read more

How to Improve Your Marriage Pictures

We’ve all had our share of bad photos. Think back to your fashion-questionable high school days, or those family portraits that looked more like the Adams Family than a happy family. It’s safe to say we all have pictures we would like to delete from the archives.

The other day, I came across The 50 Weirdest Engagement Portraits Of All Time. It’s just what it says…50 very weird engagement photos. They are painful to look at and they leave you asking, “What were they thinking?”

All this got me wondering, “What would pictures of my marriage look like over the years?”

Read more

How Can You Improve Your Batting Average in Marriage

BaseballEvery baseball player wants to hit a home run. They want to know that feeling of seeing the ball go over the fence.

The same is true in marriage.  We all want a marriage that powerfully connects and soars over the fence. We all want a home run marriage.

But what about those of us who are just average batters.  What about those of us who have normal marriages…not home run marriages?

Read more