November is National Gratitude Month. Gratitude is the feeling of being thankful and grateful. But in order for a marriage to thrive, you need much more than 30 days of gratitude.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances. For this is God‘s will for you in Christ Jesus.” As we talk about seeking the good in your marriage, let’s first talk about the evolution of the marital relationship. According to Retrouvaille, the four stages of marriage are:
- The romance phase, which we know commonly as the honeymoon phase.
- The disillusionment phase is where reality starts to sit in. You realize that your spouse is actually imperfect. You don’t overlook things as you used to and, because of that, things start to frustrate you a little more.
- The third phase is the misery phase. This is a very painful stage. Most people who make it to the misery stage give up on their marriage at this point. In this phase separation and divorce or more likely to occur in a relationship. But it can also be an opportunity for serious growth.
- The fourth stage is (the) awakening. You’ve survived! You’ve chosen to rebuild and you start over. Now, this can be with your spouse or on your own depending on what happened in stage III.
Between disillusionment and misery is where you have to be intentional in your marriage. You know that part when you’re reciting your wedding vows that says “let no man put asunder?” You have to be careful that the “man“ is not you!
So how do you find the gratitude in your marriage?
- Release expectations. Let go of what “should be“ and embrace what “is.“ Unspoken expectations are selfish, self-centered, and destructive. When we don’t communicate our needs, expecting our spouse to read our minds, it builds a barrier that is very hard to overcome.
- Admit and embrace the realities of marriage. No one is perfect. We all mess up and make mistakes. This is where you learn to choose your battles. Not everything is worth the energy it takes to fight about it.
- John 10:10 tells us that the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy…our joy. Find the silver lining because there is one! Seek the good in your marriage. Did you remember to fill up the gas tank? Take you out for lunch or dinner? Look for acts of kindness, love, and appreciation being shown by your spouse.
Gratitude in Action
When was the last time that sincerely said you said “Thank You” to your spouse? The other side gratitude is being able to express it outwardly. Here’s an idea! For the next 30 days, intentionally seek the good in your marriage. Every day, take a moment to write down one thing that you’re thankful for about your spouse. Put that piece of paper into a jar or gift box. At the end of 30 days, present each piece of gratitude to your spouse. It’s actually a gift to you AND your spouse! It will help you both to remember to be thankful for each other.
Is it hard for you to find gratitude in your marriage? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments below!
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Katherine is the author of Wounds to Wisdom, The Marriage Advocate, and is the voice behind Yoked, an online ministry dedicated to helping women prepare themselves to be a wife. Married to her best friend, she is living out her purpose by encouraging others to enter into covenant marriages with their eyes wide open.