I’m a big fan of natural alternatives to medication and getting our bodies back to the way God designed them. Your cells are constantly trying to achieve homeostasis and toxins disrupt this process. How does this relate to marriage? Well…couples can have a host of relationship toxins that cause turmoil making it near impossible to have a happy marriage.
Here’s an interesting thought. Some people have lived with sickness or illness for so long that they don’t even realize they could be healthier. They just accept their poor health. The exact same thing can happen in marriage. Some couples have been hurting or upset for so long that they cannot even fathom they could have a happy marriage.
So how do you get rid of toxins in your relationship? First, get the bad out, then get some good in.
Rid Yourself of Unforgiveness:
One of the most damaging things to a relationship is a lack of forgiveness in either spouse. In fact, even if only one spouse is struggling with unforgiveness the relationship is likely to either fail or be pretty miserable.
How do you know if unforgiveness is present in your relationship? Do you sometimes remind your spouse of times when they’ve disappointed you? I’m not referring to something big (like an affair) that happened in the last month or so. I’m talking about things that happened a year or more ago that you just can’t stop talking about.
Be Careful about telling the same story multiple times with no resolution:
I’ve heard some couples tell the same story of disappointment or anger toward their spouse at least once a month in our work together. It gets to the point where I’ve heard the story so often I tell them, “Guys, we’ve talked about this. I know that happened. When are we moving on?” And I know if I’m feeling that way the spouse is feeling it to a much greater degree.
Unforgiveness toward your spouse will eat away at your heart. It makes you forget about the sweet things your spouse has done and it blinds you to any act of love that they show you.
If you can’t forgive your spouse for past hurts, you cannot have a happy marriage. If you need some tips for practicing forgiveness, see this handout.
Rid Yourself of Unnecessary Expectations:
Most problems in marriage are due to unmet expectations. These could be smaller expectations (my spouse should have had dinner prepared when I came home from work) or bigger expectations (if my spouse loved me, they would know what I need right now).
There are definitely some expectations that are warranted, such as expecting your spouse to be faithful to you and not to engage in addictive behaviors. But much of the time, couples are guilty of holding their spouses to unmet expectations.
How do you know if you are doing this? You get upset when your spouse doesn’t perform a certain task or when they make the same silly mistake they’ve made time and time again. If you believe that your way is best and your spouse simply doesn’t add up in some way, you’re engaging in putting expectations on them that simply can’t be met. Setting and meeting realistic expectations can help you have a happy marriage.
Rid Yourself of Toxic Thoughts and Attitudes:
Psychologists often teach that your thoughts about yourself or about a situation affect your mood and your behaviors. For instance, if you believe that things will not work out well for you, you often develop depression. Your thoughts determine how you live life.
Scripture teaches the same thing. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Again, what you believe about yourself affects the way that you see your world.
How many jokes have you heard about marriage being a mistake or how many unhappy couples have you known?
If you expect that your marriage is bad and will remain unhappy, you are sure to prove yourself right. The good news is that many marriages are happy. In fact, the greatest predictor of a happy marriage is simply to believe that it can exist and that you can have it.
A Happy Marriage is Possible!
Do you need some help believing that your marriage can be improved? Try this:
- Pray for God to work in your marriage. Pray for oneness and for God to show you areas where you need to change. Choose to pray for your spouse instead of about your spouse.
- Ask yourself, “Do I have any unforgiveness for my spouse? Do I place unnecessary expectations on my completely human spouse? Do I wallow in doubts about my marriage or focus on the negative?” If any of this is present, work now to make changes.
- Purchase a copy of “The Lies Couples Believe” and go through the exercises. This book is an excellent resource for gaining a healthy perspective about marriage.
If you haven’t already, sign up for my list to receive my free e-guide, “Becoming One.” This resource will help you examine three areas in your marriage (friendship, attraction, love) to see where your marriage needs to grow. It also includes help for growing each of those areas.
As always, my hope and prayer is that God will help you truly experience oneness in your marriage.
May your marriage be a reflection of Christ’s love for us. Blessings to you!