Surviving or Thriving?

HIStory is a series of submissions from the husbands of The Five Wives, in an attempt to share their side of the story, bringing a much-needed male perspective to this blog. This guest post is by Jaci’s husband, Brandon.

Intuitively we all understand the potential benefits of having a great marriage: companionship, fulfillment, friendship, a movie star sex life and many other more altruistic motives. Yet while we are all aware that these intangibles are theoretically available, why do they often seem unattainable? I would argue that it comes down to attitude, perspective, and fundamentally our ability to reframe. The question we ultimately have to ask ourselves is are we trying “to not get divorced” or are we trying to have a great marriage. And unfortunately if most people were being truthful, they would have to say the former.

It has been said that having the proper attitude will not change your circumstances, however it will change how you respond to them. Having a good attitude doesn’t fix the finances, the leaky roof, or the kid’s crooked teeth; but it may change how we handle those situations. Of course we would all say we are willing to do what it takes to have a great marriage, but the better question is are we eager to do what it takes. This illustration may help drive home the point:

For the past few years I have dabbled in exercising, nutrition and general fitness. (I’m being liberal with dabbled) I’ve started working out, stopped working out, or started eating healthy and stopped eating healthy. Sometimes I’d make it a week, a month, 2 months, whatever. Nothing sustainable. I’m sure almost everyone reading this can relate to me at some point. Basically, my only goal was to not be extremely out of shape. I was willing to workout, and willing to eat healthy, but I wasn’t excited about it. Then one day, in the face of any reason or good judgment, I signed up for an endurance race. At the time of signing up I was easily in the worst shape of my life, but as soon as I enrolled and started training I noticed something had dramatically changed. I had acquired a serious “eagerness” to make some drastic changes. I was scared to death that I was going to die. That my teammates would leave me for dead on the course, or that I would limp across the finish line in last place. Out of nowhere I was training every day, without relenting. Eating right and pushing myself harder than I ever had. Suddenly I had gone from willing to eager.  The circumstances had not changed. I was still in bad shape, I was still the same guy… so what changed? My attitude. The thought of dying on the course was a huge motivator.

We can all apply this to our marriage. Are we going through the day trying not to be out of shape, or trying not to have a bad marriage; or are we eagerly trying to have a great marriage, to run the race, working towards thriving instead of just surviving. Reframing your current marriage situation will not change the circumstances, it will not rid you of bad finances, unruly kids, or job problems; but changing your attitude may change everything about how your respond to those problems, and ultimately what kind of marriage you end up with. So are you willing, or eager?

– Guest Blogger, Brandon Marken