Are you frustrated? At your wit’s end? Feeling like you’ve had enough? Are you wondering how it got to this point, but know damn well you don’t like it? At the start of your relationship, the two of you were in tune with one another. Orchestral movements in the dark in every sense. Your relationship had rhythm and soul, but over time movements that once came naturally have fallen out of sync. Melodies that brought joy have been replaced with arguments and discord. Voices that used to sing one another’s praises have fallen silent, communication and timing have been lost. The magic is missing and you wonder if it will ever return. Worse yet, you’re considering breaking up the band. Saving your marriage will not be easy.
Something has to give. A truer statement has never been uttered. Something does have to give…and that something is you. What you have to give is an effort.
Before you roll your eyes, hear me out. The required effort is this: you need to positively change the only thing in this relationship you really can control…and that’s you. Like a tuning fork, adjusting for positivity allows you to set the tone from your innermost starting point. Positivity will radiate from your attitude, your mindset and ultimately, your actions. It will spill into all aspects of your life and you will feel people respond. The effect is similar to smiling at strangers, 99% of the time they will reflexively smile back and you both feel better for it. Only in this case, the stranger is your wife. And, this is key for saving your marriage.
Before you embark on any project, it’s crucial to know your why. Why do you want to save your marriage? At one time in your life, you truly loved her, you were incredibly happy together, you were in tune with one another. Would you like to find a way to be happy with your wife again? Would you like to feel appreciated, heard and valued? Would you like to feel loved and in love? Would you like to feel connected to her again? Before you get too fired up, beware the rose colored glasses that may deceive you into idealizing the past, thinking things used to be perfect. They weren’t. Nor will they ever be. We are not aspiring for perfection in this case. Perfection is a setup for unrealistic expectations and a guarantee for failure. We are aspiring to save your marriage by finding a way to create sustainable feelings of happiness. We are taking steps to restore harmony.
Before you get caught up in the “if only she would” or the blame game remember this: as much as you may be tempted to want to tune her up this exercise starts, my friend, with you.
The first step in restoring harmony is to use your own mind as the tuning fork of positivity. Start by paying attention to what’s going on in your own head, in the form of your inner dialogue. Your inner dialogue will make or break your relationship because it will color, for better or worse, how you perceive and react to that which is going on around you.
For illustration’s sake, let’s pretend your inner voice is your disc jockey. He plays the music that sets the mood, he commentates, he decides who gets air time. He’s been in your ear for so long you may not even realize he’s there. He’s been in your ear for so long you may not realize that he’s a negative asshole that isn’t doing you any favors. He could be a voice of positive encouragement…but if things haven’t been going well in your marriage for a fair amount of time it’s safe to assume he’s not.
First: let’s identify your inner DJ. Imagine you’re riding in your car with a passenger. The conversation with your passenger is easy, the music is on and the mood is chill. But some miles down the road, you realize you feel increasingly aggravated. During the course of your conversation, the song you enjoyed ended and you find yourself competing with the annoying, increasingly loud voice of the announcer selling some useless thing you have no interest in buying. When you hit the power button and remove his voice from your space, you feel such a sense of relief that you wonder how you never noticed that asshole creeping into your conversation in the first place.
Your inner voice may very well be the annoying voiceover guy who has negatively creeped up on you over time. Pay attention to it. You can shut it off just as easy as you did the radio.
Next, let’s see what your DJ is saying, what his commentary is. Let’s say your wife asks you to take out the trash. What is his tone? Is he a grumbling little kid, kicking rocks all the way out to the curb? Is he the Lumping Martyr? The Lumping Martyr uses words such as “always” and “never” in the same sentence, usually with a dramatic pause in between. He says things like “She always asks me to take out the trash,” whereby he pauses for effect before continuing, “She never takes it out.”
This broken record of negativity might be fine if it stayed in your head but even if you don’t verbalize it, it’s not staying put. It translates to your mood, your posture, your facial expressions, your exasperated sighs. It’s a toxic green gas that’s leaking from your insides. Your wife can see and feel it. It’s coloring even the most seemingly insignificant parts of your relationship. Rather than seal off the exit points, a noxious temporary fix, choose instead to change the output. Choose to change the color of the gas that comes out. Think of Bob Ross as we make it a happy little shade of yellow.
How does one go all Bob Ross on themselves? One tiny brushstroke at a time. It starts with changing the station in your head. Shut it off for a moment. Enjoy the silence then be mindful of your new announcer. Put up an ad if you have to, it can read “crotchety old men need not apply”. Replace the voice with something positive. Something grateful.
At a loss for material? Try this exercise. Crack your knuckles and do some stretches before moving on to the next section. Think of it as a workout in positivity. It may very well suck rocks for the first week or so, but as with any workout, the payoff is on the other side of the pain.
Remember, the fact that your marriage is out of shape has to do with both of you. Before you can get upset with her for not holding up her end of things, you had best be sure you’re in tip top shape. To that end, the only person you can control is yourself. To replace the negative green gas with a glowing yellow sunlight, you’ll need to replace all those negative ones with positives. Buckle up, it’s about to get uncomfortable.