How to Make Marriage Work Part Five
How to Make Marriage Work Part 5
In this final post of the How to Make Marriage Work series, we will learn how to initiate loving action instead of waiting around for our partners to make us happy.
This series has focused on what you can do to make your relationship better even if your spouse isn’t willing or ready to work on it.
Let’s recap what we learned in parts 1 to 4:
In Part 1, we learned about the fears of rejection and engulfment that are often the major causes behind marriage problems
In Part 2, We outlined the six steps of how to make marriage work:
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
Also in part 2, we learned what it means to acknowledge your feelings and take responsibility for them rather than default into defensive, controlling behavior.
In part 3, we described what is meant by choosing to learn.
In Part 4, we discussed the role of prayer and connecting with God as the Source of unconditional love to improve our marriage.
In step 5 we take responsibility for our own happiness (proactive versus reactive) and choose to take loving action.
Here’s how Sally did it (she did a few things actually).
With regards to taking charge of her own happiness, Sally took up piano again, something she used to enjoy immensely. Also when alone in the evening because of Jim working late, she chose to start reading some of her favorite books instead of obsessing about why he wasn’t home.
Once she took charge of her emotional state and happiness, she was able to move on to step six, which has to do with evaluating the outcome of your actions and adjusting accordingly.
In Sally’s case, she found that she no longer felt anxious, resentful or alone. Instead, she was happy and at peace.
Her happiness no longer depended on what Jim did or didn’t do. As a result, guess what happened? Jim stopped working late. He realized how much he enjoyed spending time with his wife. Sally’s loving actions completely changed the dynamics of their marriage.
Since taking personal responsibility for her happiness, Sally’s fears of rejection and Jim’s resulting feelings of engulfment were all but eliminated. She realized that the only reason she felt rejected was because she was nursing her feelings of rejection, which had been causing her to reject herself to a certain degree.
But when she chose to control the only thing that was within her power to control — her own thoughts and actions — Jim was affected, and changed, too, as result.
This story tells us that it is possible to improve, and quite possibly save, our marriage on our own even without the direct help of our partner.
By following this six step process, you free yourself from a state of learned helplessness.
You free yourself from a sense of rejection and self-pity, which allows you to be more loving towards your spouse, which in turn creates within him or her the desire to spend more time with you because their fears are no longer being triggered by your reactions to them.
However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t encourage your partner to take loving care of themselves. When they do, their happiness will no longer depend on your happiness for their joy will be internal instead of external.
Unfortunately, most give up on their marriage too soon. Although it is much easier to save a marriage when both partners are working to heal and restore it, you can still take positive action today to improve your relationship.
So why not get started right now by following this six step process for making marriage work?
You have nothing to lose but everything to gain. You’ve waited long enough to be happy.
Start the process of turning your marriage around right now.