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!

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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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!

The Credits

The credits are one of the most neglected parts of a movie. Unless you’re a true movie buff, when the credits roll you probably feel the movie is over and get up to go. It’s a rare individual that stays and reads all those names and positions racing quickly up the screen.

But if it weren’t for the people listed in the credits, there would be no movie. Each one of those people played a specific part in bringing the movie to the screen. Directors, actors, script writers, costume designers, special effects artists…there’s a long list of people who added something to the making of the movie. Recognizing these people is important.

As you work through your sexual abuse, a lot of time and attention is given to the antagonist of your story…the abuser(s). Early in the process, the abuser(s) tend to get top billing and most of the screen time.

Then later on, as you move through the process, the attention tends to shift to the protagonist of the story…you. As you learn new ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving, you get more of the billing and more of the screen time.

As you come to the end of the process, it is really easy to feel like “this movie is over,” and quickly move on to something else. But there is still one more part to your “movie” that you don’t want to ignore. You need to take the time to credit all the people who have played a positive and helpful part in bringing you to this point.

This could be counselors, doctors, spouses, family members, close friends, or total strangers who unknowingly offered you words of kindness and acts of support. This supporting cast of people is an important part of your story and should not be glanced over. Their investment in your life, both big and small, have contributed to you arriving at this point in your movie. They deserve your recognition and gratitude before you move on.

Take some time to think about everyone who has contributed to your care and growth. Make a list of the people and their contributions…big and small. Think of their good gifts to you. Express your gratitude, if not to them, then to someone else. Don’t leave this movie without rolling the credits that are due.

The First Day

It’s Monday morning, I’m walking in our neighborhood, and it’s the first day of school. School buses are crisscrossing the neighborhood like bees swarming a hive. Parents and children are gathered in groups along the streets. Kids are dressed in new school clothes and toting new book bags. Parents are lining up fidgety kids for those infamous first day of school pictures, while cheerily encouraging them about what a great day it will be and what a great year they’re going to have. It’s the first day of school!

Do you remember your first day of school? What about your first day of high school? Your first day of college? Your first day on the job? Your first day of marriage? Your first day as a parent? Your first day as an empty nester? Your first day of retirement?

Life is full of “first days.” As the cliché goes, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

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Accumulation or Appreciation?

Depositphotos_18473781_xsMaybe you’ve seen this…a preschooler is sitting on the floor playing with a toy. They’re perfectly content with the toy they have, until they see another child playing with a different toy. Then the preschooler wants the toy the other child has. They don’t want to just exchange toys. They want both toys!

It’s funny in preschoolers, but it’s not so funny in adults. Yet so many of us get caught up in accumulating things rather than appreciating what we have.

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