By Doug Lange
When I was courting my wife, I had images in my mind of a happy and perfect marriage. I knew I was a good person with a friendly, easy-going personality. Therefore, I knew I was going to have a really happy, incredible marriage. I was literally shocked soon after I was married when I realized how what I thought were my strengths and my good points, which I knew would impress my wife, would actually be the cause of challenges in my marriage. It never crossed my mind that I would one day really bug my wife.
Marriage is really difficult and divorce is at an all-time high. Divorce is a result of how we behave towards our spouse. How we speak to, think about, and feel and act towards our spouse determines the strength or lack of strength in our marriages. How we think, feel and act in our marriages are our behaviors and our behaviors are driven by our beliefs.
By definition the word believe means to take as real or true. And, our beliefs perpetuate our behaviors. There is nothing that we do that is not founded upon and preceded by some kind of a belief. What you believe, meaning what you take as real or true, about your spouse or about your relationship with your spouse determines the happiness and success of your marriage. So, ask yourself what is it that you take as real or true about your spouse? Think about your spouse’s characteristics and personality traits and finish these statements: “My spouse is…,” or, “My relationship with my spouse is….” Create a list. This list is what you believe, meaning what you take as real or true, about your spouse or your relationship with your spouse. Do you have more positive beliefs or negative beliefs written down?
If you are not happy in your marriage, it is a result of what you believe about your marriage. Your marriage is exactly what you believe it to be. And, you treat your marriage and your spouse in ways that are in complete harmony with the beliefs that you have towards your spouse. Therefore, if you are not happy in your marriage then first change your beliefs about your marriage. The change has to begin with you, not your spouse, and it starts with your beliefs.
Andy Andrews, author of The Noticer, said, “Happiness is not about circumstances, it is about perspective. And, perspective is a matter of how we choose to see things, and how we see things is a matter of choice.” How we see our spouse is a choice. How we see our spouse is driven by what we are taking as real or true about our spouse. Choosing a better belief is choosing a better marriage, a better relationship. When we choose to see our spouse from a certain perspective we are choosing what we want to see and believe.
Be clear about what you want out of your marriage. Create an image of the outcome of the type of marriage you want. Focus your mind on having a great and happy marriage. Don’t focus on how to change your spouse’s behaviors. Focus on your own beliefs first and then your behaviors will follow. Beliefs first, then behaviors.
To have a happy marriage, you have to first believe that you can have a happy marriage and that it is worth having. Create the image, the belief, in your mind first of what you want your marriage to be like. Then act as though that image is real. A parked car never gets anywhere. Act as though that image is real and true today.
Unhappiness in a marriage does exist when abuse is involved. Even though I believe that abuse is a behavior which is driven by beliefs that this individual picked up throughout life, and that behaviors can be changed by changing our beliefs, a person should never stay in an abusive relationship. You simply have to get out of the relationship. You need to grow, to flourish and to be happy. No one deserves abuse.
The images that you create in your mind about how you want your marriage to be have to be clear and have to be held on to long enough for you to really believe what you are thinking and seeing in your mind’s eye. With this image clear in your mind, when those moments of disagreement happen between you and your spouse, bring up that image in your mind and act according to that image instead of react to what is happening right in front of you.
Happiness in marriage is by choice not by circumstances. And, circumstances change when we change what we believe. So, what do you want to believe about your spouse? It’s all a choice.