"You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had" - Philippians 2:5 (NLT)
Some years ago, Dr. Nick Stinnett of the University of Nebraska conducted a group of studies called the "Family Strengths Research Project."
The studies identified six qualities that make for healthy families. The first two qualities, arguably the two most important, were "commitment" and "appreciation."
To some, commitment is a scary word but is crucial to our success in every area of our life. When we face disappointment, we must decide to live by the vows we made to each other and before God. Contrary to what some might think, choosing commitment is not a one-time decision. This act of the will is often a daily determination to stand by our vows. Why?
Because we will repeatedly experience disappointment with each other and with the state of our marriage. Trials will come, responsibilities will grow, and temptations of escape may compete for our attention. All these things slowly erode at the foundation of a marriage that once was on solid footing.
How do we take a marriage that is now stagnating and broken and help breathe life back into it? Decide to foster an atmosphere of appreciation and gratitude towards your spouse.
Here are a few practical steps you can take to rebuild your marital satisfaction in the daily grind of life:
1. Decide to have fun. Fun is a choice, not an outcome. You decide your way into fun; you don't just stumble into it. As a couple, you get to choose whether an activity or event is fun or frustrating.
When fun is an outcome and not a choice, the quality of your marriage is determined by others' words and actions. But when fun is a choice and not a result, your marriage's grade is determined solely by your attitude.
In fact, go so far as to be intentional and create fun in everyday moments. Make it a goal to get your spouse to smile or even laugh. Laughter is good for the soul. Proverbs 17:22 says, "A joyful heart is good medicine." Your marriage needs a daily dose of laughter.
2. Purpose in your heart to appreciate.
Think about the "attitude of gratitude." Find one or two things you appreciate about your spouse and let them know. Proverbs 16:24 reminds us that "kind words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body."
3. Build your Spouse Up.
The words we speak over our spouse can either build them up or tear them down (Proverbs 18:21). Short, to the point, statements can go a long way in building their self-image.
4. Bear each other's burdens.
Life's burdens can quickly rob us of intimacy. How can you lighten your spouse's load? Drop the kids off at school. Pick up dinner on your way home. Maybe just offer a backrub at the end of a long day. Do something without expecting anything in return. In doing this, you will be fulfilling, in part, God's plan and purpose for your marriage (Galatians 6:2).
How can you show your spouse you appreciate them?
What ways can you honor God in your marriage today?