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Archive for January, 2014

Refresh your marriage

Posted on Thursday, January 9th, 2014 by Sanctuary staff

Darcy-4w-2by Darcy

Many people think of the new year as a clean slate or a fresh start.  In our relationships a “fresh start” may feel harder to come by.  Because relationships are with someone who is, by definition, not us, disagreements, hurts, and perpetual problems happen along the way.

Sometimes, for me, my marriage feels easy and smooth and it is easy to think really great things about my husband.  Other times things feel tougher and it is tempting to begin thinking negatively about him.

Based on his research with couples that spans decades, John Gottman, Ph.D. urges couples to nurture fondness and admiration in their relationship. He finds that these two elements are crucial in a rewarding and lasting romance.

Fondness and admiration show that our spouse is worthy of honor and respect, flaws and all.  They are the antidote to contempt.  For some, a renewed focus on “having a fundamentally positive view of your spouse and your marriage” (The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, p. 65) is a welcome exercise and for others this requires a deliberate and perhaps very difficult training of the mind.

By nature, we tend to move toward that which we focus on. If we are meditating on the negative personality traits of our spouses it is easy to see more and more of it.  The opposite is true as well.  For the Christian, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 is useful in an effort to take captive thoughts which need to be made obedient to Christ.  I find that a deep remembering of Christ’s death on the cross for me and my desperate need of His grace also helps me.

Phillippians 4:8-9reminds me to dwell on those things that are right and true. To that end I find an exercise by Dr. Gary Smalley to be helpful. In one of his books he details keeping a log of things his wife does for him and the many things he appreciates about her.  When he finds himself meditating on the things about her that frustrate or anger him he reads this list.  This helps him shift gears to a more positive way of thinking thereby nurturing fondness and admiration.

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