The One Vital Mindset Shift That Can Totally Revive Your Marriage

Marriage is a hard thing, ya’ll. And when you throw in kids, homeschooling, finance worries, jobs, or anything else, that just adds to the mix. Chances are you’ll not always agree with your spouse on all of these issues. So how can you build a strong marriage in the midst of all of the real day to day struggles you face? I certainly don’t have a perfect marriage, but having survived and thrived in twenty-one years of marriage, I have one practical idea that has gone a long way toward helping us to build a good marriage.

Ways to save your marriage

A Struggle for Control

Let me give you a little background. I tend to be a person who wants to control. My personality often looks at the situation and says “It would be so much better if you did it this way!” When I’m new in a group, I don’t tend to say this because I also don’t like conflict. But, if I’m very comfortable in the situation, I certainly don’t mind telling everyone how it should be. When I was newly married I took this trait into our marriage, and I was definitely comfortable enough with Jason to speak my mind.

My wonderful spouse also brought his personality to the marriage, of course. And one of Jason’s personality features is that he can be very (very, very) stubborn. This can be a good trait when it involves being determined to solve a problem, like figuring out what is wrong with a nonworking car engine. But this stubbornness can also come up when he feels as if he’s unfairly being told what to do. When we put these two personality traits together, it was trouble waiting to happen.

In our early days of marriage, here’s how this would play out in something as simple as cutting the grass.

Me: Honey, the grass is really long in the backyard. When are you planning on cutting it. (This said in a tone that communicates that he’s pretty stupid for not having cut the grass yet.)

Jason: I haven’t had time. I’ll get to it next Tuesday. (This became his standard answer.)

Next Tuesday-

Me: Okay, I can’t even see the dog when she’s in the backyard now because the grass is taller than she is. (Again in a very nagging tone)

Jason: (Digging in those heels) I’ll get to it next Tuesday.

Over the course of the next week-

Me: I can’t believe you’re not cutting the grass. You’re just doing it to spite me. And letting the grass get all overgrown like this is not being a good steward of what we have. (I’m so spiritual. I have God on my side.)

Finally Jason huffs off and cuts the grass. He’s mad, really mad. But he just wants to shut me up.

I won, right? But, somehow, it never felt like a win. Instead it created this wall between us. And I always hated being on the other side of that wall. But I was right, wasn’t I? He should be a good steward and get the grass cut before we lost the dog in it. And if he let it go too long, we knew we’d get a notice from the city. (It actually happened!) So, I was in the right, fighting for what was good and noble, right? But it sure didn’t feel like it.

There were other battles we faced besides the grass cutting. And sometimes I won, and sometimes Jason won. But it never really felt like a win. Instead, it felt as if every one of these instances drove another wedge between us. 

Until, finally, our mindset shifted. 

A New Way of Thinking

In all of these “battles” we were fighting against each other. We each thought our way was the right way, and we were determined to “win” because we were right. What we eventually realized, however, was that, in marriage, we’re supposed to be on the same team.

When we agreed to love, honor, and respect each other at our wedding ceremony, we were saying- or should have been saying- “It’s you and me against the world!” And, in our good times, we did believe that. And it felt really good. But when it came to these divisive issues, all of a sudden we weren’t on the same team. And it felt really bad.

When we came to this mindset shift, we changed the focus of the “battles” we were in. Instead of being on two separate sides, we were on the same side.

We weren’t fighting each other. We were fighting the divisive issue.

When the grass needed cutting, it wasn’t me with my holier than thou attitude coming to nag Jason who was digging in his heels. Instead, it was the two of us discussing how best to accomplish the chore of cutting the grass in the midst of our busy schedules. Instead of fighting over who’s spending too much money, it became the two of us struggling together to balance the budget with the amount of money we were making. Instead of arguing with each other about who should help out more with household chores, it was the two of us together working to accommodate our schedules so that needed tasks got done.

With that mindset, we discovered a wonderful thing. We could both be winners. When we had a disagreement, we could turn that around, focus on working together to solve the problem, and both win. Instead of driving divisive wedges, this approach actually brought us closer together.

Now I will admit that the hardest part about adopting this mindset for me was the idea of “But, I’m right! Why should I give in and let him win?” I still struggle with this sometimes. The selfish parts of me just want to be right. But, over and over I remind myself that “being right” doesn’t really matter if we both lose because our relationship is broken. 

Ways to save your marriage

Over twenty years down the road, I know for sure that having a good relationship with my husband, knowing that there is always somebody on my team is waaaay more important that “being right.”

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