Mike got married to his first wife at about age 25, had three children and walked out of the marriage few years later. He got married to another woman, had two children and also left after few years. He got married to the third wife, had children and also left the marriage after few years. Presently Mike is in his fifties, single with no contact with any of the wife or children. Now he realizes, while narrating his story, that he is the problem and not the women. How true!
You are the common reason in most relationships, whether casual, official, family or marital. Thus the change for a better relationship begins with you. We all have natural instincts to fight or flee in any danger or crises. The fight or flee responses come in different ways and may have positive or negative effect on you as an individual and on your relationship in general. In order to get the right result you need to know the right step to take in any challenge or crises. For example, fleeing from your job because of a conflict with a colleague will make you jobless and send you back into the labor market, but fighting “positively” to resolve the conflict will keep you in that job and make you a better person ( as a result of what you learn in the course of resolving that conflict). Likewise fleeing from your marriage because of challenges will lead to separation or divorce which is not the best for you, your spouse or your children. On the other hand staying to fight in a physically abusive marriage may cost your life.
Fleeing means, giving up on yourself, your spouse, your marriage/relationship or on the situation. Fighting “positively” means, taking a critical look at how to resolve the conflict. Our focus is not about fleeing from your marriage and relationship, but fighting positively to save your marriage. Most times we fight, but negatively and this make matters worse. Negative fight focus on what you are not doing right, what the other person is not doing right or all the wrong things in the situation – all these creates more tension and conflict. Fighting positively means creating the desired change in your marriage or relationship challenges.
Cultivate Good Habits
One of the best ways to create the desired change in your marriage and relationship is for the change to start with you. Do a personal assessment to find your areas of weaknesses (such as; anger, impatience, hatred for self and others, low self-esteem, bitterness etc.) What you know about yourself, what others (your spouse, friends and family) complaint about you is pointer to what your weaknesses are. This does not mean being hard or judgmental on yourself, not at all. We all have weaknesses, but we can work on our area of weakness to be a better person. This means cultivating good habits or characters and destroying bad ones. It also means destroying negative emotions like fear, anger, bitterness, resentment, depression, low self-esteem and others.
Negative or positive habits happens through conscious constant practice. Our goal for a better, conflict free relationship will be the motivating factor for dropping off bad habits and negative emotions and also for building up good ones. Habits are formed over a period of about three months of constant practice. Keep at it and you will be a better you.
Change Your Perception
Staying or fleeing from your marriage and relationship depend mainly on your perception about yourself, the other person and your situation. The mind is the battle field in the affairs of life, that is, your winning or losing starts from the mind. If you think that you will win, you will. If you think that you cannot, you cannot. If you think the situation is hopeless, it is. If you think there is a way out, there is. So, how do you see yourself and that life challenge that you are going through at the moment.
I see challenges as opportunities to learn, be a better person, move forward in life and help others to walk through similar situation victoriously. To stay and overcome that challenge; you have to see God’s divine ability in you to succeed beyond your shortcomings, you have to see beyond how bad the situation looks and other negative feedback about you or the situation. You have all it takes to go through life, your marriage or any relationship successfully. You are not a failure, you have all you need to succeed, just look in and bring out the treasure in you. Do not live in self-condemnation, self-pity, low self-esteem and other self-destructive tendencies – that makes life miserable.
Another tool for a successful marriage or relationship is your perception of your spouse. Do not see your spouse or the other person as the main problem, it takes two to tango. Identify ways in which you are contributing to the crises (such as through uncontrolled anger, impatience, selfishness) and seek personal solution by making necessary adjustments. Do not focus on your spouse’s faults or shortcomings; rather look for positive ways of responding or reacting to his/her shortcoming.
Look out for something to appreciate in your spouse – the more you dwell on this the less you will focus on his/her weakness. No matter how bad it looks, there is something good about your spouse, if you have not seen any; you need to take a deeper look to find it. We all have strong and weak points; the problem is that we tend to focus more on the negative than positive side. In fact it was one or more of your spouse’s good personality that attracted you to him or her first, but focusing on the bad characters over time has cover up your view of the good side. Now is the time to shift your focus from the bad to the good. The more of your spouse’s strong characters you see, the less obvious his or her weaknesses becomes.
Have a large heart to accommodate flaws and forgive. This means that you will not expect too much and be disappointed because the other person has fallen short of your expectation. By having a large heart you will be able to accept the fact that no one is perfect, I am not and you are not.
Another tool for success is your perception of the situation:
Never compare your situation to others because you are unique, your spouse is unique and so is your situation. Though the problem or challenge is not unique because someone, somewhere has gone through similar situation and overcome, and someone is going through the similar situation at the same time with you.
Do not see your situation as hopeless; you need hope alive to overcome. If people have gone through similar or worst situation and come out successful, why not you?.
Seek help in the right places. Yes! We sometimes seek help in the wrong places.
The journey to a better marriage and relationships begins with you – your mindset, your perception and your ability to cultivate positive habits and emotions such as love, acceptance, forgiveness, enthusiasm, faith, and wish and so on. And your ability to avoid or destroy negative emotions of fear, jealousy, hatred, revenge, greed, bitterness, anger and the like.