As a therapist, I often talk to couples about their goals for our work together or how I can be most helpful. Couples typically say something along the lines of improving their communication, fighting less, or working through issues regarding their intimate lives. Many couples say something along the lines of, “We’re good except for our _______.” You can fill in that blank for yourself. The only problem with this is, there is rarely a couple who actually knows that main thing they need to work on. Not really knowing is not a weakness. It’s simply human nature. We don’t always know where to focus.
Alright, I want you to take just a couple of minutes (literally) and watch the video below. Seriously. Please take the one minute and 41 seconds needed to watch the video because it makes an incredibly strong point for the rest of this article.
The Monkey Business Illusion
So, how’d you do?
The reason that half of us miss the unexpected events in the video is because our focus is on one task or event.
So often, we do the same in our marriage. We focus ourselves on one event (communication, arguments, our sexual relationship) and we briefly forget that humans are complex individuals and a simple solution just doesn’t seem to work.
Why marriage work is so hard –
I really do believe that marriage can be tough but that we can not just survive but thrive if we work it well. Because while marriage is sometimes difficult, there really is no better way to become more Christ-like. Marriage forces you to lose some of your own selfishness and focus on someone else. It also can be fertile ground for God to show you areas in your life that you need to change. Iron sharpens iron, friend, so getting into a covenant relationship with another Christian gives God some great opportunity to refine you.
How you can make your marriage better? – Expand your focus!
- Refuse to focus on the problem.
When you watched the video earlier, you probably missed at least one of the ‘weird’ events. Either the gorilla, the curtain, or the player leaving was something that happened without you noticing. The same thing can happen in marriage. We can miss the areas of our life that are affecting our “problem.” Don’t look too intently at what you believe the problem to be. Remember, you can miss the bigger picture when you focus only on your big problem.
- Consider all pieces that could be impacting your problem.
Scripture tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” We are so beautifully complex! But that complexity means that the solutions to our problems can be difficult to find at times. Think about other factors that could be impacting your problem. Do you have physical illness or complication that needs to be checked? Are you suffering from emotional complications such as depression or anxiety? Do you need to work on your spiritual life and grant forgiveness to your spouse for past hurts? To really solve a problem, all pieces of your life should be examined to find those complicating issues.
- Focus on the solution.
One of the most effective ways to keep a problem occurring over and over again is to focus more on the problem than the solution. Again, like the video above, we are usually only aware of what we put our focus on. Focusing on the problem will be a constant reminder of what needs to change, but gives you little hope for an actual solution. Instead, focus on solutions that the two of you can put in place. Work as a team and refuse to continue in the problem behavior.
My hope for you is that your marriage continues to grow and that the two of you walk out a Christ-type of love with one another. Challenge yourself to love more deeply today than you did yesterday. And, if you need a little help doing just that, grab my free guide, Becoming One. In it, I outline some practical steps you can take to build the intimacy in your marriage. Get it right here!
Blessings on you and your marriage!