Bragging on Your Beloved: How Gratitude Can Transform a Marriage

“I’m thankful for my husband.” Is that a phrase that comes out of your lips often? Today, guest poster Cheri Gregory shares with us about how being thankful for your husband can transform your marriage.

Bragging on Your Beloved How Gratitude Can Transform a Marriage
I used to believe in “venting.”

Blowing off steam.

Letting it all out.

My best friends were those who listened to all my marital ain’t-it-awfuls while nodding in agreement and adding sympathetic comments like, “No way!” and “That’s just terrible!”

I was certain that “talking it out” with girlfriends was the only thing keeping me from going off the deep end.

Not until I took a gratitude challenge did I realize three startling truths:

  1. my marital problems weren’t the real reason I was always in crisis.
  2. my sharing of wedded woes wasn’t helping anything.
  3. my venting habit was what kept me forever teetering on the edge of despair.

 Focus Causes Baditude” to Expand

Let’s explore what I wish was merely a hypothetical scenario from the early years of my marriage:

Before leaving for work one day, my husband said something offhandedly that hit me the wrong way.* For the rest of the day, I couldn’t get his comment–let alone his tone of voice–out of my mind. It stayed on automatic replay; I analyzed it over and over. The more I pondered it, the more upset I became.

When I got together with girlfriends for lunch, I asked for their opinions. Together, we dissected the comment and the tone syllable-by-syllable. We explored all possible interpretations and discovered that not a one was positive. We all agreed: I had been wronged.

By the time my husband and I reunited that evening, I had invested 5+ hours mulling over a comment that took him 5 seconds to make.

Can you guess:

  1. What kind of mood I was in?
  2. What kind of greeting I gave him?
  3. How I treated him the rest of the evening?

The answers, I’m embarrassed now to admit, are:

  1. Lousy
  2. Cold shoulder
  3. Disrespectfully.

Worse yet,  I felt completely justified in my behavior and believed he deserved every bit of it.
Why?

Because what I’d focused on all day had expanded in my mind until it was all I could see. I’d focused so much on that one comment that all I saw when I looked at my husband was negative.

 Gratitude Causes Focus to Expand

When I started keeping a gratitude journal, I gave myself permission find just one thing per day to be grateful about in my marriage. Some days, even that one felt like a Herculean effort.

Fortunately, even as stubbornly as I clung to my “baditude,” the practice of gratitude began to do what thankfulness always does: it expanded my focus. I found myself writing down two and even three things I appreciated about Daniel without having to force myself; they just flowed out of my pen. Then, I started reaching for my gratitude journal throughout the day as new ideas popped to mind.

And if you’ve ever experienced this kind of transformation in your thinking, you know what happened next: the more gratitude I expressed, the more things I noticed to be grateful for.

And the more things I was grateful for, the less bugged I became by an offhanded comment. The less I “needed” to blow off steam. In fact, venting started to feel icky. I lost interest in competing for winner of “Woe is Me” Wife contests and started hanging around women who spoke highly of their husbands.

Bragging on my Beloved
Bragging On My Beloved

You can get Cheri’s Bragging on My Beloved Journal here in my store. It’s only $2.99. Look and appreciate the positive in the one you love!

(*NOTE:  In this example, I am referring to an ordinary, everyday misunderstanding that occurs between two loving but imperfect people. I am not discussing an instance of abuse, abandonment, addiction, or adultery.)

Cheri GregoryCheri Gregory is a Certified Personality Trainer; contributor/co-author of a dozen books, including Wired That Way and 21 Ways to Connect With Your Kids (with Kathi Lipp); and frequent speaker for MOPS groups, women’s retreats, parent workshops, and educational seminars. She holds an M.A. in Leadership and is working on her PhD. Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, a pastor, for over a quarter-of-a-century; they have two college-aged kids. She blogs about expectations, “baditude”, and hope at www.CheriGregory.com

Comments

  1. Love this Cheri…”Fortunately, even as stubbornly as I clung to my “baditude,” the practice of gratitude began to do what thankfulness always does: it expanded my focus.” My word for 2014 is focus. This truly gives me a different perspective in the way I have been looking at the word. While I have always made it a practice in my 30+ years of marriage not to discuss my husband negatively to my girlfriends…in the recesses of my mind I have certainly been guilty of stewing(focusing) on something that the hubs has said or done that grew as the day wore on into something that affected both my mood and my heart towards him. Guilty as charged. Love the idea of a gratitude journal just for my husband. I need to focus on his strengths and positive attributes…not only writing it down in an journal but finding ways to express to him verbally as well. Thanks for shifting my focus!!
    blessings,
    Gay Idle/CaptiveHeart

    • Yes, I often FEEL something good about my husband, and then feel kind of righteous for thinking something good. But then it’s only later that I realize I never actually told him. I keep it to myself too much! I’ve had to practice finding ways to say good things when I also think them.

      • It’s so easy to overlook giving a compliment to someone we love. All the things they do and say that are so dear to us seem to become part of the expected routine of our lives. The good thing is that It is something we can overcome with practice. We just need to find one appreciative thing to speak to express our gratitude as soon in the day as possible. If we develop that one habit, it will in time expand into the rest of the day.
        Dan recently posted…You Go FirstMy Profile

  2. Great reminders, Cheri! Thanks.
    Kendra Burrows recently posted…Learning to ListenMy Profile

  3. I had similar situation happen with my wife recently and came to the same place you did in an admittedly more roundabout way. She had made a comment to me that was meant to be her looking out for my best interest. Somehow, I took it wrong and showed Baditude. Fortunately, I didn’t mull over what she had said and build up resentment. It did hurt her though. After thinking about what had happened, I wrote a blog post about how I had screwed up big time. The process of writing the post opened up my eyes to an area of gratitude that I had not shown her at the time and I “bragged” about how she was doing her job as a good wife by looking out for my health which was her way of honoring me as outlined the marriage covenant. She subsequently read the post and thanked me for what I had written. We both got a dose of gratitude from me rectifying my mistake and bragging on her in the process. She then showed gratitude and thanked me for what I had written and then posted for all to see.
    Dan recently posted…You Go FirstMy Profile

  4. Oh Sheila and Cheri, thank you! This post was a real eye opener for me. I have been struggling with a “baditude” for several weeks. In fact, I’ve been whining in the comments about how my husband doesn’t want to have sex very often and how he must not find me attractive. I have been so mired in my own self-pity that I forgot to look at all the things I have to be grateful for. (In fact, this post linked me to a series of older posts about having a “complaint-free week” and I am enjoying reading through them.)
    Since you sweet friends have listened to my woes, I’d like to take a minute to share the positive! Bear with me while I brag on my beloved. My husband is a very hard worker. He is an excellent provider who works hard which allows me to stay home and homeschool the children, as well as run a Christian theatre company for teens. He never complains when dinner is late (or non-existent during the week of a production!) He loves me and tells me so all the time. He does find me attractive and is willing to say so (it’s just sometimes I have trouble believing it). He likes to hold my hand, and sometimes he calls or texts me for no reason other than to say hello. He is an excellent spiritual leader (which is a HUGE blessing – we were unequally yoked for several years and I thought I’d never have a spiritual leader husband – but with God, anything is possible!) And the best thing about him that I have really seen in action this week – he is willing to talk and listen – even if the conversation is extremely uncomfortable.
    As it turns out, he does enjoy sex, and would like more, but our house is small and out kids are older, and sometimes it’s a little too close. We’re working on finding ways to be creative, work around that, etc. I’ll spare you the details! *blushing*
    Also, my “baditude” was not helping anything. He also admitted that when I put myself down it is very unattractive. He feels better when I am happier and feeling good about myself. My self-pity makes him feel like he is doing something wrong – something that makes me feel unhappy. I’ve managed to create a vicious cycle at times.
    How blessed I am that he cares about me so deeply and that he is willing to walk through these issues with me. I will be praying a lot this week – for you friends, also for me to stay on the positive side, to be thankful for my blessings! I am going to try to have a complaint-free week as well.
    God bless you all and especially you, Sheila!

    • That’s beautiful, Becca!

    • Wow, Becca! First of all, I wish you lived in my town; a Christian theater company for teens is so cool!! Second, I think you just described my life down to being unequally yolked and then God transforming my husband’s heart (and truthfully, mine as well). My kids are still fairly young, but 2 of them are old enough to be aware of any “funny business” and our house is on the smaller side. There was a period of time where that bothered me and it seems like huge amounts of time would pass where there was no intimacy because of it. Then when it did happen, it was rushed and awkward, with me always thinking about the kids (mood kill for sure!!) But I realized, if I want to have a healthy relationship with my husband, I’ve GOT to get over it. Yes, you do have to be more creative at times. Since you have older kids, use the shower as an opportunity. Have a regular date night, where your kids plan other activities to do for an hour or so (optimally outside the house). Turn on some noise masking music (just make sure to have it on quite a while before and after so that no one else in the household clues into what the music is for, lol!) Tell your kids to hang out with a friend for a while, do their homework outside if it’s nice, find SOMETHING independent to do. If they question you, you don’t need to tell them you and your husband are going to be intimate, but your children DO need to know that you and your husband need to make time for one another, without entertaining the kids every hour of the day. Say, “I love you, Little Sally and Billy, but I also love your father. We need time to hang out together, just the two of us sometimes, so we can stay connected.” It’s good for your childrens’ confidence and trust in their parents’ relationship and the stability of the family to know that their mom and dad are still “hot” and care for each other ;0) If they are old enough to “get” that this time might mean SEX for the two of you (gasp!) this is a great time to use humor with them and admit that, yes, that might just happen cuz their dad has still got it goin on, and that the kids probably don’t wanna be anywhere near here while youre bringin down the house, so it would be in their best interest to find something else to do ;0) If they know that say every Tuesday and Friday, they need to find something on their own to do, they might just look forward to that time that they get. Maybe Sally enjoys painting, and this is the one time she can sit outside and paint without being bothered. Maybe Billy likes kicking around the soccer ball with the neighborhood kids and looks forward to coming home and not doing chores or homework right away on those days. It’s all how you spin it :0) God bless!!

  5. I love this post. It’s a great one, one I don’t think enough of us see often enough. However, I think that venting and asking opinions of your friends isn’t really all that benign when you’re seeking advice from your friends. I’ve been married almost 13 years, and I’ve seen the effect of venting. We think we have to get it off our chests, when in reality, we’re exposing our husbands to our friends in ways that he may not appreciate. I’ve learned that, while I can talk to my few friends generally about relationships, I prefer not to talk with them about the issues that happen because their perspective may be skewed. Of course our friends want the best for us, and their comments and advice may be coming from that place. I once had someone give me some advice that, on the surface, sounded good, but considering where God has me in the marriage and what He’s doing with my husband and me, the advice was completely inappropriate and wrong. If I had followed it, things would have become much worse. I really think we need to be careful about what we share, and ask whether or not our husbands would want his business to be known to our friends at all. I think there are better ways to handle things like that, like prayer. We may not get instant responses (then again, we might), but I think we’re much better off taking these things to the one who created us and who is shaping and making us into the women He would have us be.
    Kay recently posted…Teaching Our Children How to be ResilientMy Profile

    • Yes, I agree. Having a godly mentor is such a blessing; but asking friends to help us in our marriage problems–when really all we want to do is vent–isn’t really that helpful at all!

  6. Alexandra says:

    Such a great post! I try to make a point to say thank you verbally to my husband as much as possible. It’s become a habit and when I met up with one of my friends a while ago she was saying that she didn’t understand why she had to say thank you for every little thing her husband did, like take out the trash, do dishes, etc. They were coming from a rocky point and he didn’t feel appreciated. I couldn’t come up with a good reason, other than it’s just something I do and guys like to hear it. I also know that if I don’t verbalize it then he may stop doing those things and I don’t want that to happen. To me, it just made sense to say thank you because how else would he know how I felt about his help and when we have kids I want to be a good model for them too!

  7. Perfect timing to read this…I just finished Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ book Choosing Gratitude and was challenged to be more thankful for my husband. I’m on Day 4 of a 30 Day Gratitude Challenge over on my blog too so thanks for posting this!
    Elizabeth@Warrior Wives recently posted…30 Day Gratitude Challenge: Day 1 (& Giveaway!)My Profile

  8. Yes! I’ve done this numerous times. I feel like I can’t just let him “get away” with whatever he said or did to piss me off because then he’ll think it’s ok to do/say it again and again. How can we free ourselves of ranting and venting (which I feel I really need to!) but not give our husbands a free pass to belittle or disrespect us?

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