Conversations

I can’t believe he just said that.

The front door slams as my husband leaves for work.

Especially after what he said last weekend.

I scrape the breakfast dishes with unnecessary vigor.

For which he has yet to apologize.

As I fling plates into the dishwasher, they clink together and a chip goes flying.

Plus, he came home late every single day this week.

I stare at the damage to one of my precious, irreplaceable dishes.

Just look at what he made me do! And on top of everything . . .

(I am really revving up now!)

. . . he “forgot” to do the one thing–the only thing–I asked him to do!

But right as confetti for a full-blown pity party is ready to fall, I recognize:

I’m doing it again.

I dry my hands.

Mulling and stewing like this only blows it all out of proportion.

I head to my Prayer Chair.

Time to interrupt and replace.

I reach for my Gratitude Journal and favorite pen.

I am grateful that Daniel was so pleased when I whipped up more of his favorite southwestern sauce last night.

I smile in spite of my frustrations. My southwestern sauce is a breeze to make, but he always says, “Oh, look! You made me more of your secret sauce!” as if it’s the best surprise ever. I like knowing that I can do something so simple that makes him so happy.

I’m grateful that Daniel suggested we go out to Golden China last week, giving us a couple hours to just hang out and catch up with each other.

I remember how tired he looked as I used him as a sounding board for some “stuff” I was wrestling with. As I talked, I had some important “ah-ha!” moments. I know it wasn’t easy for him to just sit and listen after a long day at work.

I’m grateful that Daniel “refreshed the cat box” this morning.

Yes, this is decidedly unglamorous. But when I’m switching from a “baditude” mindset to a gratitude mindset, I write down whatever comes to mind. Neither of us enjoy this necessary but unpleasant task. He makes a point to do it so I don’t have to.

I’m grateful that Daniel is taking care of his health through exercise and intentional food choices.

I’m grateful that Daniel’s life experience and expertise are so valued by his boss and students that they seek his counsel after school.

I’m gaining momentum.

I’m grateful that…

The more I write, the more I’m reminded why pity parties are such time-wasters: No gifts, and the entertainment is terrible.

I’m grateful that…

As I write, I discern which of my earlier concerns were from my self-inflicted petty “baditude” and which are real problems that we need to address as a couple.

I’m grateful that…

As I write, the same thing happens that always happens when I take the time to sit down and write.

I’m grateful that…

The frustrations that were mushrooming to cosmic proportions shrink back down to manageable size.

I’m grateful that…

I intentionally bring my husband’s strengths back into the forefront of my mind. And my heart.

I’m grateful that…

His myriad positive qualities don’t get shoved into the corner by my upset-du-jour as they did for so many years.

I’m grateful that…

Those years are over. They were long decades during which I­, full of righteous anger­, chipped away at him. At us. Oblivious to the damage I was inflicting on this one precious, irreplaceable relationship.

Now, I don’t mean to over-simplify a relationship as complex as marriage. And I certainly don’t assume that what’s worked for me will automatically work for you. Every marriage is unique; God works differently with each individual and couple.

But for what they might be worth, here are a few truths I’ve learned about gratitude in marriage:

  1. Gratitude and “baditude” can’t co-exist. Joy is processed in a different part of the brain than upsetting emotions. When we choose gratitude, we literally “change our mind” by switching the part of our brain that’s in use.
  1. What we seek, we will find. When we honestly look for reasons to appreciate our spouse, we may be surprised at how many we find.
  1. As gratitude gets our attention, petty annoyance dies of neglect. When we’re looking for reasons to appreciate our spouse, we’ll stop seeing so many small reasons to be peeved.
  1. Kids pick up their parents’ attitudes . . . no matter how hard we try to hide or camouflage them. The more grateful we are for our husband, the more grateful our kids will be for their dad.
  1. A commitment to gratitude changes our conversations. When we’re thankful for our husband, we can bring husband-bashing, men-hating conversations to a halt . . . and even turn them around.
  1. Expressing gratitude is way better than mind-reading. The whole, “If he truly loved me he would just automatically know . . .” guessing game only has winners in chick flicks. In real life, everyone loses. Let’s express what we appreciate. Out loud. Often.

I am grateful that…

I’ve finally discovered the power of gratitude. Turns out, God’s been crystal clear about it all along:

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
since as members of one body you were called to peace.
And be thankful.
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly
as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom
through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit,
singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:15-17

Give it a try.  Complete this sentence:

I am grateful that…

Again.  And again.  And again…

 What are you thankful for today?

Download your FREE “Bragging on My Beloved” Gratitude Journal:

 

Cheri Gregory

Cheri Gregory speaks and writes from the conviction that "how-to" works best in partnership with "heart, too." Her goal is to equip overwhelmed women to relate and create with less drama, more delight. She co-hosts, the new podcast "Grit 'n' Grace" with Amy Carroll. You can connect with Cheri at www.CheriGregory.com, where she blogs about Perfectionism, People-pleasing, and life as an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person).

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