If a reality show was based on your marriage, would the promo copy describe you and your spouse as grateful or grumbling? Think about your dinner table conversation: do you leave the table feeling content and thankful or in a bad mood and feeling dissatisfied? If you suspect the two of you are in danger of becoming Mr. and Mrs. Grumbler, here are 3 tips for reversing the trend toward ingratitude.
1) Shine before you whine. We all need to share our burdens and frustrations, but far too often, couples slip into a pattern of unloading on each other without taking time to share the positive parts of their day. So, before you tell your spouse about how frustrating your boss is or how the kids were fussing all day, share three good things that happened in your day. Knowing you need three positive things to share will prompt you to be on the lookout for the good stuff that is already happening every day, like the colorful sunrise you saw while commuting or the sweet hug your child gave you or the pleasure you felt when you completed a project. You’ll find that this exercise helps you feel more thankful and content all day long.
2) Mine for gold in the manure. Sometimes life stinks. We completely forget a crucial meeting, or our child’s “one last lay-up, Mom!’ ends with a trip to the emergency room for a broken leg, or we discover our dog got into the Halloween candy and then threw up all over the house. Messy stuff happens even in the most well-planned of days, and once it happens, we can’t undo it. But, we can use our sense of humor to put what happened in perspective. Finding the humorous, the so-unbelievably-bad-it’s-funny, part of what happened is like finding a gold nugget in the middle of a cow patty. The shortest distance between two people is a shared laugh. So, look hard for the humor in the muck, and share this with your spouse, family, and friends. You may even find that you relish when life gets crazy because you know you’re going to get some great stories!
3) Pray for a grateful heart. Only God can change a heart, so if you want to change a grumbling heart into a grateful heart, ask for God’s help. This is completely in His will for each of us so you can be sure He will answer; however, He may use the most unexpected people and situations to cultivate thankfulness in you. Yes, you may benefit from an expected sermon one November Sunday on giving thanks, but often God catches us off-guard when our defenses are down when He has deep heart work planned for us. Don’t be surprised if God speaks to you in unusual ways and through unlikely people as He changes your complaining heart into a contented heart. And if you’ll share these experiences with your spouse and others, you’ll encourage grateful faith in them as well.
Please tell us in the Comments section what you do to cultivate a thankful heart, as a couple or individually.