How to Make Marriage Work Part Three
How to Make Marriage Work Part 3
Do you feel like you are the one who has been wronged?
Even if you feel like you are the victim, it is vital for you to stop blaming your partner and accept responsibility for your own feelings and actions.
And even if your spouse isn’t ready to start working on your marriage, you can take action today to make things better. Here are the six steps:
1. Willingness to accept and take responsibility for your own feelings and actions
2. Choose to learn
3. Discuss your feelings
4. Pray – talk with God and seek his wisdom
5. Be proactive (instead of reactive) by choosing to take loving action
6. Evaluate the outcome of your actions and adjust accordingly
In part 2 of this series, we discussed the idea of having a willingness to accept responsibility for how you feel and act in order to avoid becoming defensive and controlling. Now let’s discuss step two of six.
Step 2: Choose to Learn
This step encourages you to explore behaviors, beliefs and thoughts so you can identify the real source of your pain.
Although this might be difficult at first (trust me, it will be), stop believing and blaming your partner as being the sole cause of your hurt. Realize that you are in charge of how you feel – this is what we mean when we encourage people to “accept responsibility” for feeling afraid, angry rejected, anxious, hurt, numb, abandoned, ashamed, guilty, lonely and depressed.
Put yourself in the driver’s seat. Take charge of YOU.
This pulls you out of a state learned helplessness and gives you the power you need to change your situation and emotional state. This is a strong step towards saving your marriage.
For example, from the first article in our series we learned that Jim spends a lot of time at work, which leaves Sally feeling lonely, rejected, angry and abandoned. Because of this, she started nagging and blaming him because she felt he was responsible for the way that she feels.
On the other hand, Jim chose to get even busier as a way of resisting what he perceived to be Sally’s controlling behavior.
Sally uses blame and anger to avoid the pain that Jim is causing her.
She is so focused on him and his role in the relationship that she fails to take responsibility for her own feelings. When they are together, she is joyful and feels valued, but when they aren’t together, she is filled with worry and uncertainty over why Jim has chosen not to be with her, which results in her feeling deeply insecure.
If Sally followed this process of inner connection to create inner strength and improve her marriage, then she would begin by acknowledging that she alone determines how she will feel in any given moment.
If she feels angry, lonely, resentful or afraid, it’s because she has attached a specific meaning to her situation and is subsequently driving those emotions within herself – not Jim.
Acknowledging these feelings is a healthy step. Sally shouldn’t get down on herself. She should treat herself with compassion – much like a loving parent would do in seeking to calm a child who is hurting or crying. If she does this, she will be able to avoid going into “defense mode” which causes her to be controlling, nagging and judgmental.
Once she takes ownership of her feelings, she can move on to Step 2. If she doesn’t take charge of how she feels, then she will be unable to be proactive in saving the relationship.
In step 2, Sally will open her heart by acknowledging her own role with regards to the chronic marriage problems. Once she does this, she is emotionally able to react differently to the relationship problems. This puts Sally in a position of strength instead of weakness because it helps her to keep her own behavior and feelings in check while avoid blaming Jim for all of their marriage problems.
This second step of inner connection where you “choose to learn” moves you from being the victim to being the victor – someone who is consciously aware and in control.
This empowerment changes the way you interact with your spouse.
Once you change your attention from trying to control your partner by using blame, anger and complaints, and choose to focus instead on awareness, self-acknowledgement, and learning, there will be an energy shift in your marriage that your spouse notices.
As a result, your relationship problems will be resolved much more easily.
If you follow this relationship advice and learn how to love and be kind to yourself, your marriage will start to improve.
In our next article on how to make marriage work, we will discover four more ways to improve the most important relationship in your life.