“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.
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:
- my marital problems weren’t the real reason I was always in crisis.
- my sharing of wedded woes wasn’t helping anything.
- 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:
- What kind of mood I was in?
- What kind of greeting I gave him?
- How I treated him the rest of the evening?
The answers, I’m embarrassed now to admit, are:
- Cold shoulder
Worse yet, I felt completely justified in my behavior and believed he deserved every bit of it.
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.
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 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