On our wedding day, we all said something along the lines of,
“…for better or worse, in sickness and in health, whether rich or poor..”
But the reality is when we experience a down in our marriage we easily forget those vows or at least it becomes more difficult to live them out. So how do we maximize the ups and survive the downs of our marriage? It begins with understanding that it is a choice. The choices we make will result in a healthy marriage or one that falls apart. The choices we make in the midst of the ups and downs are ours to own. So what choices should we make in the Ups and Downs of Marriage?
7 Choices for the Ups and Downs of Marriage:
Choose to Remember and Celebrate the Ups:
We are in control of what we choose to focus on and talk about with our spouse. Spend lots of time reminiscing and remembering the great memories together. Take lots of pictures and look at them often!
Choose to Intentionally Create Ups:
We shouldn’t wait for life to throw us random UPs. Rather, let’s take matters into our own hands and create Ups. Plan a vacation, schedule in date nights, surprise her with a note or make dinner. Keep in mind, your definition of an Up may be different from your spouse’s. Talk about what an Up is for you and work together to create those moments regularly instead of waiting around for them!
Choose to Expect the Downs:
There will always be ups and downs in our marriage as well as our individual lives. We may not know exactly what will happen…but we know something will happen eventually. You can either ignore the inevitable or be prepared to the best of your ability. Dave Ramsey has great principles to prepare for financial downs (i.e. The Emergency Fund). But there are other plans and ways you and your spouse can expect potential downs. Talk openly with your spouse about your concerns and how you plan to work through the downs together.
Attitudes are a choice…our choice. We are not given an attitude. We do not fall into an attitude. Even though we may say it we don’t actually wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Whether in a down or an up you choose your attitude. Dr. John Gottman has researched couples and marriages for over 20 years and has uncovered an incredible common thread among all healthy marriages. He calls it “The Magic Ratio 5:1”. According to Dr. Gottman and his research findings a healthy marriage has 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death..” We must choose life!
More info regarding Dr. Gottman’s research visit: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200910/what-makes-marriage-work
Choose to Remain a Team:
One of our first reactions during a marriage down is to identify the problem, this is especially true for husbands. Find the problem, fix or eliminate the problem…problem solved! However, it is all to easy to see our spouse as the problem. The goal here is for both spouses to always be on the same side (outside of abuse situations). Draw the line so that you and your spouse are looking at the problem together not fighting against each other. If you and your spouse are on the same side then you can plan and work together rather than against one another. This may take some creativity. Even if it seems that your spouse IS the problem…can you find a common ground together that keeps you both on the same side.
Him vs. Her: “Our house is falling apart because HE isn’t staying on top of the repairs”
Him & Her vs. Problem: “Our stuff just isn’t lasting like we thought! What could we do to keep our stuff maintained?”
Him vs Her: “We keep going deeper in debt because SHE is over spending!”
Him & Her vs. Problem: “Our money just isn’t going as far as it used to because prices keep going up. How can we live within our means?”
Choose to Love:
Of course it’s cliche but nonetheless it’s important and true. 1 Corinthians 13 gives us God’s definition of love (and not just in regards to marriages but in all our relationships). We must choose to love even we don’t feel loved or loving.
Choose Christ as your Foundation:
Jesus gives us a parable in Matthew 7:24-29 about how to survive the storms. Notice, He never gives us a formula for avoiding the storms…only surviving them. Expect to have downs and storms in your marriage. Expect to survive those storms if you build your foundation and your marriage on Jesus.