The first month of the year is drawing to a close. This is a great time to turn over a new leaf and start afresh, but if you’re here reading on this blog, chances are good that you’ve been affected by infidelity in one way or another. When your life has been turned upside down, it’s hard to even pull yourself together, much less do something “new,” isn’t it? Yet, today I want to lay down a challenge to have the courage to do something NEW in your marriage.
The definition of insanity is “Doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result”…and yet isn’t that often what we do in our marriages? We have that “same old fight.” We use the same old reasons. We don’t budge and sometimes don’t even tell each other things because “we know what he/she will say” or “he/she will freak out.” We give our spouse the cold shoulder or punish them for something they said or did. On and on. And you tell me: How’s that working for you? If your spouse is having an affair and your marriage is falling apart and your kids are being hurt, THIS is the year, and now is the time to do something NEW.
Doing something NEW can be really scary, though. I realize that doing things the “same old” way may be hurtful and damaging, but at least you know what to expect. Yes, you hurt your spouse and they hurt you when you two argue, but you know that if you say “THIS” they will counter with “THAT” and then you have justification to unleash “THE OTHER.” It’s dependable, in a weird way, because we can depend on what will happen. But doing something NEW means you may have to look at yourself. Doing something NEW means that you don’t know WHAT is going to happen or HOW your spouse will react! That uncertainty…that feeling of being unable to predict what your spouse is likely to do… can be virtually traumatic for some; nonetheless, I challenge you today to take that leap of faith and do something NEW!!
It starts in your mind…thoughts like: “I wish he/she would think of ME for a change and help me!” or “I’m tired of doing everything while he/she sits around and does nothing! I want to do nothing!” To do something new with your mind, you can’t just hope that someday your thought patterns will change. You have to do something NEW…think something NEW!! Your thoughts will change when you make the decision to change them! So when you find yourself thinking that old recording of negative thoughts about your spouse or thoughts that are centered on you…make the conscientious DECISION today to stop yourself and change that thought to something positive. Now I do realize that when two people have gotten far down the negative spiral that it can be fairly hard to even think of something positive, but even if you have trouble thinking of one thing, remember this. They could have picked anyone in the whole wide world, and they chose you. Think in a NEW way regarding your spouse. List their good qualities and memorize the list!
And speaking of changing your thoughts, I have a really BIG challenge for you to help you and your spouse become “unstuck.” You know that argument you two have had over and over and over? The one where you know your spouse is going to bring it up, and you know that “next time I’m gonna say THIS” and while they are talking you think about how you’re going to respond rather than listening? The fight you’ve had a hundred times already and each time it goes the same way–down the drain? Yeah THAT argument. I’m not saying they are right and you are wrong, but the next time you two have “that argument” no matter what they say, I want you to say: “So it sounds like what you’re saying is…” and then paraphrase what they said. Don’t agree. Don’t say they are wrong. Don’t say you are right. Just summarize what they said (their “reason”) and see if you understand what they said. THEN… just say “I’m going to consider what you’ve said.” The end. DO NOT say anything else. Just let them know you will consider it and stop talking. The mere fact that it did not go “the same old way (aka down the tubes)” may well be enough shock to bring life back into the discussion. After all, think about. Isn’t one of the big issues in THAT argument, the fact that you don’t feel “heard”? Well you just “heard” your spouse and said you would consider them and their viewpoint…and that is the kind of thing that gets a marriage unstuck.
What starts in your mind continues in your mouth. If your mind is thinking of yourself and is thinking unkind things about your spouse, chances are about 99 times out of 100 that your mouth will follow suit. That means that things will come out of your mouth declaring that you’re “entitled” to a partner who helps you out and you “deserve” a spouse who makes you happy. Your mouth will then follow with mean, hurtful, caustic words meant to cut your spouse to the bone and make them do what YOU want them to do. Speaking to your spouse with those kinds of words is balancing on the verge of verbal abuse, and if you wouldn’t tolerate verbal abuse, why would they? To change your words, you have to do something NEW. Just like your mind, you have to make a choice and train your mouth to say things that are loving. Hmmm…let’s see. I Cor. 13 says: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Are these the kinds of words coming out of your mouth? As your thinking changes, your words will begin to change too, but you can start right now, saying NEW words. Words like “I love this about you” or “I feel happy when you…” and when they do something–anything–say thank you! Speaking to your spouse with at least the same level of courtesy as you would to a stranger is another thing that gets a marriage unstuck.
Finally, what starts in the mind and continues in your words will reflect in your ACTIONS–how you ACT toward your spouse. This means that as your thoughts change to thinking of the things you appreciate about your spouse, and as your words say “thank you” and speak encouragement or support to your spouse…your actions will start to follow suit. Love is not feeling butterflies in your stomach when you kiss…or feeling all jittery and excited when you know you’re going to see him/her. LOVE (mature, intimate love) is treating a fellow human being in a way that is loving, because you made the commitment to act that way throughout all that life throws at you! LOVE (mature, intimate love) is being transparently honest so your spouse can see the True You…and you seeing the True Them…and making the choice to behave in a loving way in spite of the fact that both of you are imperfect! LOVE (godly love) is choosing to lay down our desires and natural inclinations and instead obey God. And what does God say that LOVE acts like? I Corinthians 13:4-8 “ Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
So break the mold. Having that “same old fight” the “same old way” and saying the “same old things” and getting the “same old reactions” may be destroying your marriage, but too many people are afraid to try something NEW because with the “same old, same old” they know what to expect–even if it is bad! I challenge you to HAVE THE COURAGE to do something NEW in your marriage…tonight.