Tag Archives: change your marriage

What Does It Take To Change Your Marriage…and the World?

Feeling Exhausted

A lot of stuff has been happening around me lately that has charged my environment with an intensity it didn’t have a year ago this time. The details of events don’t matter—well, they matter to me, but not for this post. Suffice it to say: I’m exhausted by outrage culture.

Now righteous outrage can be a good thing. Societies have made real progress when good people become angry enough about an injustice to work for important change.

However, in our technology dominated world, we don’t work together so much as rage together. That is, we tend to equate saying something online with doing something. We get angry, spout our views, and congratulate ourselves for being involved or activist.

Being Part of the Club

Let’s say you get on Twitter and say something passionate and/or controversial. You might get flak, but I guarantee you someone, somewhere will applaud you for your courage. Perhaps several someones.

You may even be 100% right, and the question I still have is: How did you make a difference? Did you convince the people who didn’t agree with you before? Or just rally an audience to similarly express their outrage?

We see this with marriage websites too.

  • Wanna believe feminism is to blame for you not getting sex in your marriage?
  • Wanna believe all men are pigs who’ll objectify and harass anything in a skirt?
  • Wanna believe a man’s lusting is the fault of how women dress?
  • Wanna believe that this teaching, or that teaching, or this one is the reason why Christian marriages are struggling?

We tend to seek out exactly those resources that tell us what we already believe or want to believe. You can find a website that will cater to your outrage and make you feel part of the club.

What we often need, however, is something that challenges us to reconsider our beliefs. We might well come right back to a tried-and-true perspective, but even then at least we better understand the other side. As a result, we can better speak with people who disagree with us and perhaps persuade them to our side.

There is a limit to this, of course! We should not open ourselves to toxic theology or sinful practices. I’m talking about challenging ourselves to get outside our comfort zone, not into the danger zone.

Making the Long-Term Effort

Plenty of spouses express outrage about how their marriage is going or their lack of sexual intimacy. But outrage is easy. Long-term effort to effect real change is hard.

Outrage is easy. Long-term effort to effect real change is hard. #marriage @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Outrage often demands burning down what exists to build something new in its stead — and sometimes that is only option. You don’t negotiate with Hitler; you topple his regime. But most of the time we’re not fighting that kind of evil, and let’s hope you don’t want to topple your whole marriage!

In many most situations, changes comes through incrementalism. Though we’d all like to have the magic bullet, it’s reasonable goals, compromise, and persistence that make the difference. Over time, baby steps turn into big strides.

Thus, you may need to put forth a lot of time and effort:

  • to help your spouse feel safe enough to open up to you about their struggles
  • to address the sexual baggage you each entered marriage with
  • to resolve the obstacles you face
  • to introduce better sexual perspectives and activities
  • to demonstrate consistent and committed love

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9

Becoming the Solution

Of course, putting a lot of effort into the wrong things will not yield the results you want. Which is why we should dig deep into Scripture, pray for wisdom and guidance, and check in with our spouse about what they long for in your marriage.

But we’ve got to stop telling ourselves that we’ve done something just because we talked about it. Declaring what you think to the world, to your Facebook friends, to a blog’s comment thread, even to your spouse or to your therapist isn’t enough. In fact, sometimes you’d be better off to shut up and just do something.

It’s an unpopular opinion in the marriage ministry world, but I don’t believe communication solves everything. Or even most things. Love in action solves things.

It's an unpopular opinion in the #marriage ministry world, but I don't believe communication solves everything. Or even most things. Love in action solves things. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Communicating with your spouse helps you know what love in action looks like for them! But it’s not enough. Your actions have to speak louder than your words.

Perhaps this is why all of my books suggest actions to put into practice what you learn. Even my conversation guide for couples, Pillow Talk, addresses what you can do and specific sexual activities you can try.

Ad for Pillow Talk: 40 Conversations About Sex for Married Couples

Changing the World

These lessons go beyond our own marriage. Think also about your broader life:

  • Are you opposed to a marriage course your church has taught? Research alternatives, suggest a better one, and even offer to teach it or recruit facilitators.
  • Are you heartbroken by the breadth and depth of abuse and mistreatment? Volunteer your time or donate to organizations that help victims.
  • Are you appalled by the level of divorce in our society? Encourage your church to add premarital and marriage counseling to its resources, perhaps in concert with area churches. Recommend marriage classes and/or mentor other couples.
  • Are you unhappy about the messages your church teaches about sex, or their lack of teaching on it? Suggest a marriage event and invite a speaker who can address the issue well (e.g., Juli Slattery or yours truly). Offer to facilitate a class on the subject. Start a small group study that goes through a marriage book.

Let’s save some of the outrage and channel that energy into the effort required to make a real difference in our lives and for others. We may not see results tomorrow, but in the course of a lifetime, we will reap the harvest. And gain the greatest reward.

Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.

Revelation 22:12

3 Attitude Shifts That Vastly Improved My Marriage Happiness

Recently, I was sharing with a friend how my daily happiness in my marriage improved when I finally realized two important things. Thinking more on the subject later, I added a third to my list.

I once expended a lot of emotional energy being angry or resentful or frustrated or disappointed with my husband over small stuff. He didn’t even have to be near for me to see constant reminders of his lack of love. I mean, surely a guy who loved me wouldn’t leave such a big mess for me to clean up. Surely a guy who loved me wouldn’t ignore my worry about unlocked doors, risk-taking children, and noises in the night. And surely a guy who loved me wouldn’t meet my can’t-you-see-it? explanations with his own store of anger, resentment, frustration, and disappointment.

Yeah, things were not going well in my marriage.

While some marriages suffer from huge problems in the happiness department, I believe many spouses are like me, with small stuff and daily letdowns piling up until you’re standing in a heap of hopelessness. So how did I get past it? What realizations released the weight of emotional pain I once carried around?

The word unhappy changed to happy on torn paper and white background + blog title

1. It’s not personal. Ask yourself: Is this truly directed at me? Is my husband maliciously trying to hurt me? Most of the time, the answer is no. Whether it’s leaving his dirty clothes on the floor, interrupting while you’re speaking, or not feeling like making love as much as you’d like, he’d behave like that whether he’d married you or not.

My hubby didn’t one day decide, “Hey, I think I’ll leave twelve pairs of shoes around the bedroom floor, just to trip up my wife and stub her pretty little toes.” Nor do I forget to go by the dry cleaners with my husband’s shirts because I want him to dig deep into his closet for his least favorite shirt to wear to a big meeting; trust me, I’m just forgetful everywhere in my life.

It’s not personal.

Even difficulties in your sexual intimacy may have little to do with you. Now, I’m not saying these things don’t have a real impact on you. (I have stubbed toes to prove it.) If your wife isn’t having sex because of an incident in childhood that had nothing to do with you, or your husband won’t patiently pursue your climax because he was erroneously taught that sex is for men, you are still experiencing consequences. But it’s not personal. So don’t add to an already-difficult issue by taking it personally.

I stopped feeling rejected and resentful when I learned to give my husband grace and remember he loves me. The man who would take a bullet for me wouldn’t turn around and plot my death-by-size-11-shoes. He just forgets to put them away. And once I diagnosed the problem more accurately . . .

2. The spouse to whom an issue matters most should take care of it. I wrote an entire post about how my husband cannot return the Worcestershire to its proper place in the refrigerator. Whenever I lovingly — or less lovingly — pointed it out, he was not opposed to my request. But ultimately, he didn’t care where the stupid bottle ended up in the fridge. It just wasn’t important to him. And me complaining that he should think it’s important didn’t get us much of anywhere — at least, anywhere good.

So when I open the refrigerator and see the Worcestershire taunting me sitting on the wrong shelf, I move it. I’m the one it matters to, so why not just take care of it? If something matters a lot to you, and not so much to him, just do it. Consider it an act of loving service and take pleasure in caring for the small stuff that makes your home and relationship a little better.

Wait! you say. How earth does this apply to the bedroom? Am I supposed to “take care of that” myself? No. Not saying that! Some things in marriage — the big stuff — should involve cooperation and unity. Whether you have sex is big stuff, we stuff. But you can take on some of the small stuff surrounding sex. For instance, if atmosphere matters to you, don’t wait on your spouse — just create the ambiance you want. If you can’t relax and make love in a messy bedroom, clean it up. If you want her to wear something more sexy, go buy it (taking her into consideration, of course). If he’s not as romantic as you wish, take charge of the romance.

But cease being upset that your spouse didn’t do something when you could easily take care of it yourself. Then you’re both happier. Which leads me to the final attitude shift . . .

3. Own your part. This one is so straightforward, and I’ve talked about it before. Basically, take responsibility for yourself in this marriage. So you think she‘s hard to live with? Well, are you rainbows and roses every day? You think he doesn’t pay attention to your emotional needs? Well, have you listened to his emotional needs and tried to meet them?

You know the saying: When you point a finger at someone, there are still three fingers pointing back at you. I spent way too much time and effort thinking about, praying about, and talking about what my husband was doing wrong. And I couldn’t change him. But I could work on me and make myself the best person I could be, and — wouldn’t you know it? — when I became a better person to be around, he was more motivated to make changes. No guarantees, of course, but owning your part of things can make a big difference in your marriage.

Thinking about your marital bedroom: Are you as understanding as you should be? Loving and kind? Listening and patient? Concerned about her arousal or his pleasure? Have you made sexual intimacy in your marriage a safe topic or a mine field? What can you do to own your part and make things better?

There they are: three attitude shifts that made a huge difference in how I feel day in and day out about my husband and my marriage. And when I stopped “sweating the small stuff,” we were able to better tackle the big stuff.  Years later, I can easily say I am a very happily married woman.

And currently, there’s only one pair of shoes my husband left out on the bedroom floor; I think I’ll go put them in the closet for him.

What attitude shifts have improved your marriage? What wisdom can you share with others from your experiences?