An extremely simple concept in marriage and relationships – but which most people have almost completely forgotten about – is Gratitude. Simply being grateful for what we have is an attitude that seems to have been lost in our modern world. Most people are so bound up in wanting more – and in focussing on what they see as lacking in their life – that they never stop to take a breath and realise what they already do have. But simply changing your awareness and focus – from what is wrong with your situation to what is right about it – will have a profound effect, not only on yourself, but on your marriage as well. In fact, if you take just this one concept that I’m talking about here, and apply it to your marriage in the way I’m going to suggest, then I the differences it will make to your relationship with your spouse may well astound you.
If you think about it, what we all have in our lives these days is absolutely incredible, compared to at any other time in human history. The wealthiest people on the planet a hundred (or even fifty) years ago, could not have bought the things and experiences that we can today with relative ease. Think of what we all take for granted, that not so long ago was regarded as sheer fantasy – mobile phones, instant videos and photographs, air travel to anywhere on earth for a relatively low cost, health services, even the opportunity to start and end a marriage for love reasons rather than financial security or wanting to have children…. the list goes on and on….
One of the things about a great marriage is that both the husband and wife have a profound sense of gratitude. They’re grateful for what they have in their life – and they’re also particularly grateful that they have each other. They say things to each other like, “How did I get so lucky as to find you” and they mean it. Now you might think, “Well it’s easy for them! If they have a great marriage then they probably have a lot to be grateful for. But if I’m in an unhappy marriage situation – how can I pretend that things are good when they are really not?”
Well the truth is that whatever you focus on grows. No matter where you are in your marriage you DO have things to be grateful about, and if you spend some time thinking about those things – rather than all the things that you’re not happy about – then you’re going to find some positive changes will begin to happen.
When thinking about the levels of gratitude in your own marriage, here are three questions to ask yourself:
Firstly, when was the last time you told your husband or wife that you really appreciated having them in your life? It might have been with a card, a text message, or saying it to them personally. But when did you last genuinely and with feeling say, “I’m really glad that I have you in my life?”
Hmm, interesting question, isn’t it?
All right, here’s the second question: when was the last time you did something for them that showed you really appreciate them? Nothing big, just a simple gesture or act that you did out of pure love and kindness, with no expectations of getting anything back. It might have been as simple as opening the door for them or making them a cup of tea, but it was something you just had a sudden and spontaneous urge to do because you simply love them.
And the third question is: when was the last time you truly felt glad to have your spouse in your life? You know, a moment of joy where you just felt, “Wow, I’m so lucky to have this amazing person in my life.
To think that they have chosen me to be with! My life is truly richer for having them in it!”
If the answer to any of these questions is, “Not for a while” or even “Never” then I’m willing to be that your marriage is far from being the great one you would like it to be. So doing what the questions suggest would be a good place to start in improving your relationship.
The fact is that you do have a LOT to be grateful for in your marriage (and in your life) – if you CHOOSE to see it. If things aren’t going too well (or at least as well as you would hope) then you need to start focussing on the good things rather than the bad things. When problems arise in a relationship, most people spend all of their time trying to ‘fix’ the problems, thinking, “Well If I can just stop this from happening, then we will be happy again”. The reality is, though, that when you focus on what is wrong with your marriage, you keep finding more things wrong. And I’m sure you will have experienced trying to sort your problems out and finding that it’s a lot more complicated than you thought it would be, and you can put in a lot of time and effort and make very little progress (if any).
When you focus instead on what is GOOD about your marriage (and your life) interesting things start to happen. You have a more positive attitude – which is going to make your spouse far more willing to engage with you and deal with any issues the two of you might have. But equally importantly, you’re going to see more good things in your marriage – things you truly can be grateful for – than you thought were there. Things will not only look better but they will GET better.
Looking for the good in your spouse and your marriage is going to make a huge difference. My challenge to you is, no matter how ‘bad’ you think things are in your marriage, look for some things to be grateful for. And I assure you, no matter what you might think, there ARE good things there! You are better off than anyone on the planet was 100 years ago, and probably better off than 90% of the people on the planet today!
So dig deep, see what is good about your life right now – and say or do something to express some gratitude for your spouse and your marriage. You might be surprised at the positive result!
Gratitude is such an important component of a successful marriage, and I include a whole section on it in my 30-Day Save Your Marriage Relationship Transformation Program. If you’d like to learn more about how to use the power of gratitude to improve your marriage then have a look at that program. You’ll find the details here.