Developing a Thankful Attitude in Marriage

We all have things about our spouse we don’t like. Things like…

  • How they leave their shoes lying around.
  • How they make noise when they eat.
  • How they tend to procrastinate.
  • How they go off on rants.
  • How they always/never want sex.
  • How they’re too tight/loose with money.
  • How they’re too introverted/extroverted.
  • How they drive.
  • How they crunch on the ice in their drink. (My wife’s personal favorite)

We all have our own list, and we just keep adding to our list as time goes on.

MORE DIFFICULT TO BE THANKFUL

It’s easy to see the things we don’t like about our spouse, but developing a thankful attitude doesn’t come as easily. Sure, there are some people who seem to be naturally thankful, but most of us have to learn to develop a thankful attitude.

DEVELOPING A THANKFUL ATTITUDE

Because developing a thankful attitude doesn’t always come easy, here are three steps you can take to develop a thankful attitude toward your spouse:

FIND.

People tend to find what they’re looking for. If you’re looking for the things you don’t like, you’re sure to find them. So if you want to develop a thankful attitude in marriage, you have to train yourself to look for things for which to be thankful.

I encourage you to keep a small, pocket-sized notebook with you. Then, once or twice a day, think of something you’re thankful for about your spouse and write it down. It could be things like:

  • They are a good provider.
  • They are a good parent.
  • They take good care of our home.
  • They always keep the grass mowed.
  • They have a good sense of humor.
  • They keep me organized.
  • They love me.
  • They are faithful.

Some of the things you come up with may seem like you’re grasping for straws. But noting even the smallest of things will prime the pump of thankfulness and help you see more and more things to be thankful for.

Make it a daily habit to find things to be thankful for.

FOCUS.

Training yourself to find things to be thankful for is just the first step. Next, you have to train yourself to stay focused on those things. After acknowledging something your thankful for, it’s easy to then quickly turn back to complaining.

I call it “yes/butting,” and it sounds something like this…“Yes, my spouse is good with the kids, but they never want to spend time with me.” Do you see how quickly “yes/butting” squelches the thankfulness?

When you find something you’re thankful for, then stay focused on that throughout the day. Don’t get side-tracked.

FEED.

Finally, once you’ve begun a list of things you’re thankful for about your spouse, then continue to feed that list with new things each day. You may think that it will be a very short list, but you’ll be surprised. Once you begin to train yourself to find things to be thankful for, your list will grow and your attitude will change.

A FINAL WORD…

Now, I’m not naïve. I know that this will not make all your problems go away. Those problems will still be there. But at least the problems will be balanced with some better things. And since you probably don’t need any help spotting the problems, you should spend more time finding things to be thankful for.

So, keep your eyes and heart open for things to be thankful for, and happy hunting!

2 Samuel 7 – Melting the Father’s Heart

Picture this…

One day, a father gives his boy a shiny new bike. While riding the new bike, the boy realizes his father doesn’t have a bike of his own. The boy doesn’t take into account that his father has a car and all the possessions he desires. He just knows that his father was so good to him to give him his new bike, and he wants his father to have one.

So the boy tells his father he’s going to get him a new bike and begins to save his money for one. This melts the father’s heart. So the next day, the father brings home an even bigger present for his son. Overwhelmed all the more by his father’s generosity, the boy climbs into his father’s lap and tells him he’s the greater dad in the whole world!

This is a picture of what’s happening in 2 Samuel chapter 7. David is grateful for what God has done for him and wants to give back to God. This attitude of gratitude melts God’s heart, causing Him to bless David all the more. Realizing he can’t out-bless God, David sits before God and acknowledges God’s greatness.

This chapter, like the story of the boy with the bike, reveals a tender interaction between a father and His child. In both stories, the father’s heart is melted by the child’s attitude of gratitude.

Gratitude leads us to want to give, which leads us to become more like our Heavenly Father. This melts the heart of God because what parent doesn’t melt when they see their children trying to imitate them?

Do you have an attitude of gratitude that prompts you toward generosity…and melt’s the heart of God?

Age: It’s Natural

Note – Though this post does not specifically target marriage, it addresses something every marriage has to deal with.

Age. Whether you’re young or old, everyone grapples with their age. The young wish they were older. The old wish they were younger. Even the terms “young” and “old” are relative to our age. When we’re ten, thirty seems old. When we’re thirty, fifty seems old. And when we’re fifty, we’re just hoping we can make it to retirement!

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Joshua 5 – Little Things

“Little things are important.” “It’s the little things that mean the most.” These are sayings most of us have heard all our lives. The reason little things are important and matter so much is that big things are made up of little things. Little things require a lot of thought, discipline, commitment, and sacrifice. That means that little things are actually “big things.”

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Deuteronomy 16 – Replace Your Attitude with Gratitude!

Ok. I’ll admit it. I can be a whiner and a complainer. I don’t like this about myself, but it’s true. It’s too easy for me to complain about all the things that are wrong, or difficult, or inconvenient. I have so much to be grateful for, but too often instead of having an attitude of gratitude, I just have an attitude.

God knew that His people could be complainers and whiners. So in Deuteronomy chapter 16 you find God placing special importance on three specific times of celebration.

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Numbers 31 – What’s Cooking?

As any cook knows, it takes a variety of ingredients to make a great dish. Yes, some cooks make incredible dishes by somewhat randomly throwing a variety of things into a pot, but most tend to follow a recipe…whether it’s in their head or on a piece of paper.

Numbers chapter 31 is a recipe of sorts. It’s a chapter that covers a variety of ingredients for a well lived life. Many of these ingredients are so simple and common we tend to overlook them, if not reminded once in a while.

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Numbers 28-29 – Show Gratitude

I remember an old black and white movie about a native tribe on an island. In the movie, this tribe was trying to appease their volcano god by offering up an innocent victim. I remember watching the screen as the wild-eyed natives walked their trembling victim to the edge of the volcano. Even as a kid, I thought, “What a harsh and demanding god!”

At first read, Numbers chapters 28-29 can sound much the same. But this is not what these chapters are about!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a brief reminder on this Thanksgiving Day that giving thanks should be more than just a day on the calendar. It should be the practice of our life and marriage. It’s true that some people seem more naturally thankful than others, but giving thanks is something at which you can practice and get better. I’m thankful to each of you for reading Normal Marriage. Happy Thanksgiving!

How Indifference Can Wreck a Dream and a Marriage

A Disturbing Dream

The other night I had a disturbing dream. I don’t have many disturbing dreams, but this one shook me to my core.

In my dream, my wife and I were separate…and she initiated it! She seemed to have little interest in being around me, and asked me not to contact her. Her indifference toward me was beyond painful, and it was clear that her indifference towards me was going to end our marriage.  But that was not the most disturbing part of the dream.

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How To Be A Better Person

If you want to know how to be a better spouse and have a better marriage, it starts with learning how to be a better person.

Right now, my spouse is probably laughing her head off at the idea that I can tell you how to be a better person. She would be the first to tell you I have a long way to go in that department. And the idea that I could give you all the answers you need on how to be a better person in one short blog post is pretty laughable also.

But I can give you the basic building block for how to be a better person. Then, you can take those basic building blocks and build on them in a way that best suits you, your situation, and your need.

Here are the basic building block for how to be a better person:

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