4 Mindsets That Sabotage Your Marriage

Saturday, April 9, 2016

angy couple
This year my wife and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. I must say that I am no expert on marriage. I have read countless books on marriage, attended marriage seminars, and have even counseled couples as a pastor, yet I still have much to learn. One common mindset I find when talking to couples who have been married for 50 years or more is that they are still learning. Once we think we have learned everything we are headed for big trouble.

Over the last 30 years I have made a lot of mistakes. Some of the most powerful learning experiences come from failure, whether our own or from others around us. I want to address four mindsets that are relationship killers. I used to believe all four when I was younger but I can tell you after years of real-life experience they will cause great disruption in your marriage if embraced. These should be avoided at all costs. The next step is to replace these unhealthy mindsets with healthy ones.

Here are four mindsets that will sabotage your marriage.

#1 - Marriage is a 50/50 relationship. 
If you believe this to be true I can tell you that your relationship is doomed from the start. The minute one partner gives less than 50% the other will feel cheated and will fight for their rightful share. This is not healthy and does not work. When you said your marriage vows you promised to give your spouse everything, not 50%. A successful marriage is one where each partner gives themselves sacrificially and never keeps score. The focus is on what I can give, not what I can get.

#2 - There is only one right way to do things.
This mindset assumes that one of you has to be right all the time. This sets the relationship up for massive conflict and will shift your focus from the problem onto each other. When facing problems don't try to find out who is right and who is wrong. Instead, find a solution and then work together to solve the problem as a team. Once you step in the trap of having to be right you not only hurt yourself, you hurt your partner too.

#3 - Don't go to bed angry.
Before you hit the delete button, hear me out. This mindset is based on a misinterpretation of Ephesians 4:26 that says, "Do not let the sun go down on your wrath." This is not what this verse means. When you read the entire verse you will notice that Paul makes a distinction between anger and wrath. Anger has to do with our emotions while wrath has to do with our actions. What Paul is saying is that we need to correct our behavior before the day is done. To not do so is to sin. He never said it is a sin to be angry. I have learned from experience that thinking every conflict must be resolved today is not healthy. Sometimes the best way to resolve conflict is to sleep on it so that you can deal with it without the emotion of the moment. Many times you will wake up and have completely forgotten you were angry. Your anger is your sole responsibility, never your spouse's.

#4 - I have a right to be happy.
This is simply not true. Your happiness is your sole responsibility. We have an unhealthy addiction to happiness. I can tell you that if you spend your time and energy pursuing happiness you will only end up being miserable. Contentment is the better and more reasonable goal. 1 Timothy 6:6 says that godliness with contentment is great gain. Happiness is dependent upon how we feel which changes with our circumstances. Contentment is dependent upon the truth which remains constant regardless of our circumstances. When you pursue contentment your relationship will stand the test of time. When you pursue happiness your relationship will fall apart the moment you run into difficult circumstances.

If I could sum up everything I have just said I would say it this way - Marriage is not about me. It's about us. Marriage is not easy but regardless of what statistics tell us, in spite of your family history, and in spite of your own past, you can have a marriage that is both rewarding and lasts a lifetime. However, you have to be intentional about it everyday and be willing to work hard at it. Follow the example of how Christ lived in laying down his life for us and I guarantee your marriage will be successful and rewarding for both of you.
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