I have about four deep-dive topics I’m eager to get to, but this post (originally published on Unveiled Wife but edited and updated) is a good foundation to lay first. A marriage is comprised of two people, husband and wife, and while neither can or will be perfect, it’s important that each strive to become an emotionally healthy person.
Many spouses read marriage blogs with the hope of finding that key to a happy, healthy marriage. What can we do differently, better, more intentionally to save our marriage, heal our marriage, strengthen our marriage, or improve our marriage?
For a number of years, my own marriage was in the pit—a black hole of frustration and despair. I asked myself Are we going to make it? more often than I care to think about now. Was I neglecting our marriage?
The Definition of Insanity
Actually, during that time I read marriage books, attended marriage classes, listened to marriage sermons, and even went to couples’ counseling. I wholeheartedly believed I was pursuing every avenue to fix our flailing relationship.
Yet it continued to flail.
So what was the key? What finally helped us dig out of the pit? What brought us to where we are today—into a healthy, happy marriage?
While those resources had some great advice to offer, I hadn’t laid the right foundation. Oftentimes, I thought I just needed to keep doing All The Things, only more frequently, more intensely, more determinedly. I could have saved myself some heartache by asking: But are these the right things to do?
You’ve likely heard this definition of insanity: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” (By the way, it wasn’t Albert Einstein who said that; more on the quote’s origin here.)
My former pastor used to say it this way: “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent.” Any coach can attest to this: You won’t get a better bat swing by practicing a bad swing or a better swim stroke by practicing a bad stroke. Anyone trying to lose weight would agree: being faithful to a diet is great, but if that diet is bacon and donuts, it ain’t gonna yield the outcome you want. And even if you’re on a great diet of protein and veggies, if you also drink beer by the keg, your belly will not go away.
It’s kinda the same with marriage. It definitely helps to add good things to the mix, but you should check the base ingredients and make sure you’re starting with the right stuff.
So what’s the right stuff? Keep reading.
The Right Stuff
Rather than merely following all that marriage advice or praying more (which was mostly “Lord, change my husband” back then), I began to recognize my own lack of personal, spiritual, and emotional health.
I spent quite a bit of those troubled years struggling with depression, frustrated with my life choices, using God’s Word as a tool for blaming others instead of doing the hard work of living like Christ. I wanted things to change, but I hadn’t truly focused on the transformation God needed to make in me.Healthy Marriages Start with Healthy People: "I wanted things to change, but I hadn’t truly focused on the transformation God needed to make in me." @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
Why did I expect to have a healthy, happy marriage when at least one of us wasn’t a healthy, happy person?
To be sure, we had relational issues to work through, but I had to start with myself—who I was as a wife and who I was in relationship with God.
The Change Begins With Me
I worked on getting myself healthy, sought ways to increase my contentment and joy, and focused on living out godly principles each day with my husband—such principles as love, generosity, patience, kindness—regardless of my mood or his actions. I chose to bring a healthier, happy individual to the marriage, which placed us on a far better footing to work on us.
If you’re emotionally or spiritually unhealthy or unhappy, perhaps it’s time to tackle your own obstacles. Rather than trying to make marriage fill your empty tank, grow toward loving your spouse from the overflow of your heart.
Healthy marriages start with healthy people.
But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God;Psalm 68:3
may they be happy and joyful.
Also see Chris Taylor’s excellent post on this: Work on Yourself (Even if Your Husband Is the Problem) – Honeycomb & Spice.