One Attitude that Improves the Success of Your Marriage {and Linkup!}

Give More

I can see the opposite of “this attitude” coming toward me a mile away as a counselor and life-coach! That’s because it’s very easy to see in others, not so easy to identify in yourself. But allow me to ask one question that reveals the kind of attitude we need for success in marriage …

Are you a “Giver” or a “Getter” in your marriage?

Let these questions help you decide …

  1. Do you give to your spouse in the hopes that you’ll get back at least a good percentage of what you’ve given?
  2. Do you get convicted whenever you align your heart and attitude alongside God’s word?
  3. Do you give and give and give in order to avoid conflict or disappointment with your mate?
  4. Do you get on your knees to pray for your marriage and spouse even when the prayers seem to yield nothing?
  5. Do you give until your “well runs dry” and when it does, do you want to abandon that “well” to dig another one with a more “attractive water source”?
  6. Do you get that your marriage will only improve if you take responsibility for yourself and quit blaming your mate?

If you said “yes” to most or all of the odd questions, you’re acting like a “Getter.”

If you said “yes” to most or all of the even questions, you’re acting like a “Giver.”

We can easily fool ourselves into thinking we are “Givers” in our marriages because we do give. And when we play the comparison game, it almost always looks like we give more than our mates, right?! 

Funny how that works! 😉

As humans, we’re often too controlled by denial and pride to see when our giving has become conditional in marriage.

Being a “Giver” or “Getter” can be compared to a “contract” vs. “covenant” marriage.

Sadly, most marriages in our culture operate like contracts. If you give to me what I want, then I’ll give to you what you want. If I have to give much more than you, then you’ve broken the contract and I’m free to move on and find someone who will give me what I want.

But a marriage that is a covenant {as the Bible describes} is not about getting what you want from your spouse.

It’s about giving … and giving … and giving some more!

A covenant marriage says that if my spouse only gives 10% or less to our marriage, then I will continue to give 100%.

To be clear – I believe there are situations where the covenant is broken, such as when abuse, abandonment and/or adultery are present.

And … I’m also not talking about enabling a spouse by taking responsibility for the things the spouse should be responsible for.

All I am saying is that if your continual focus is on what you feel you deserve from your spouse, how much better your life would be without your spouse, or on how wrong your spouse has been, then you’ll only be creating more of the same in this or any other relationship you have.

The way to improve your attitude in marriage is to learn to let the “Giver of all good gifts” {James 1:17} fill up your empty and tired heart with His love, that will then abundantly overflow from your heart to your spouse’s. Then and only then will you have any chance for success and fulfillment.

 

How easy is it for you to move from being a “Giver” to a “Getter” who focuses on where the “contract” of your marriage is being violated?

 

How does focusing on what you want to “get” from your spouse negatively impact your attitude and marriage?

 


 

Joining with my friends at  Works for Me Wednesday,  Wifey Wednesday,  Coffee and Conversation,  Wholehearted Wednesday,  Whimsical Wednesday,  What You Wish Wednesday, and Essential Fridays.

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  • Beth! What an eyeopening post and set of questions! (and the set of questions would make a powerful Pin! 🙂 )

    I know where my marriage has ended when i hang my coat on “give me” ..much much frustration and deep blindness. One of the biggest marriage lessons, the kind that turned me around, was understanding that i don’t give in order to get, or give in equal measure only or give to cover up things (the latter has taken long to learn! and still learning everything else too). But i give cos God enables me to, cos it’s a covenant and there’s much joy in giving than there is in getting. I am very much a work in progress but it’s been liberating starting and making progress in the journey!
    Wonderful post!

  • Ugh. This is HARD. And I find it’s especially difficult to explain to the non-believing world. Thank you, thank you, Beth, for your consistent biblical counsel here. It’s so valuable.

  • Great post, Beth!

    One thing I’ve come to realize is that marriage isn’t about giving or getting. It’s about carrying whatever load one is allotted, without complaint.

    It’s emphatically not a “conflict avoidance strategy”; it’s really a matter of honor, the promise before God at the altar on that day when life irrevocably changed.

    One is, and can ever be, solely responsible for one’s own actions. And knowing that, I find that carrying out that responsibility is where honor is found. What my wife does, or doesn’t do isn’t germane. She has her own set of responsibilities before God, and I trust her to do her best. I won’t question her, because in the end, only God knows her heart. I don’t.

    Does this allow the potential for abuse? Oh, yes. All trust does. And while it can be enabling, that has become such a buzzword that I’d be reluctant to make that judgement except in the most blatant case.

    And if that trust is abused…if I’m carrying way more than my share while my spouse is playing me for a fool…at least I’m still an honorable fool.

    (One phrase I always have trouble with is “the well (or love tank) running dry”. It’s not a well, it’;s not a tank, it’;s a promise to behave in a certain way as long as the marriage lasts.)

  • I love your questions and realized that in some ways I’m an even combination of a giver and getter based on my answers. Is that possible? Question 3 really made me pause and reflect. I was that person who wanted to avoid conflict on any level especially toward the end of my marriage. It tends to be my personality. What I love about your posts, is the opportunity for me to look closely at the ins and outs of marriage and then look at my own in order to understand why it ended. Wednesday blessings, my friend!

    • Conflict avoidance is an easy role to slip into, Mary…an area in which I must remain vigilant.

      In part, I can blame it on past abuse…a coping mechanism learned in a past abusive marriage. Yet, I must also recognize that the coping mechanism also enables abuse while interfering with intimacy.

      It’s made even more difficult by appearing so subtly ‘christian.’ Much that we hear in sermons seems to encourage us to avoid conflict at all costs. And we can appear so self-righteous…so loving…so humble while avoiding conflict.

      But true love also exhorts those we love toward righteousness…and values the relationship enough to work through the hard issues.

      A frequent prayer of mine, is simply asking God for wisdom in how best to address relational issues.

  • Great post, Beth!

    You have both encouraged us to wholeheartedly give of ourselves in loving our spouse, while also recognizing that loving does not mean enabling abuse and sometimes covenants are broken. In so doing you’ve written a post that is beneficial to any married person, not just those in a specific set of circumstances.

    That’s a lot to cover in one post…and you’ve done it!

    I especially like your emphasis on giving “in, through and to the Lord.” That really is the only way. It is through His power and His grace…and it is done unto Him.

    Thank you, so much, my dear friend!

  • Hard truth Beth! I need to work harder on giving, whether or not I think or feel my husband is giving. Whatever we do in our marriages either brings God glory or dishonour. I choose to bring God glory in my marriage.

  • This is so true!! Thanks for sharing this wise reminder to check our hearts and see if we are motivated to give and serve or only concerned about what we are getting! i was just thinking last night that I am doing all of the work in a certain area and that my husband was avoiding this challenging area. So, this post was a tiimely reminder for me to be willing to give and do more! No need to keep score! (Unless we are watching a football game together!) 😉

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  • Love, love, love this post!! Thanks for sharing your heart (and wisdom!) with us.
    ~Candy

  • Wonderful post. The questions are so helpful in helping us to figure ourselves out & keep our relationships healthy.

    Beth, can I ask you to email me your mailing address (jviola79@hotmail.com). I keep forgetting to ask & you were the winner through random.org of the book I Want God by Lisa Whittle. I would like to send it out 🙂 Thank you!

  • Beth, thanks for sharing these ideas. I try to check myself if I have negative thoughts about my husband and turn it around. He does so much for me I don’t want to forget it even for a second.

  • My husband and I went through a marriage seminar years ago where we were taught that it was our job to find out the needs of the other person and meet them. Period. This changed our entire perspective. When we fought for our own ways, all we did was fight. When we live to serve the other, both of us are blessed and our marriage is enriched. Thanks for the great post and for the link-up, Beth.

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  • This is a powerful article, Beth. I am a giver but too often I give hoping to get even if it takes years to “get” there. I want a close relationship with my husband but sometimes, I have to admit, that my motives might not have been aligned quite right. The blessing is that I have a good marriage and I am thankful for my husband and that I am getting a return on my giving. I started out wanting to be sure that I would never become bitter and the neat thing is that when you start giving, often the right motive will come as you make giving a habit for life.

    • This is a powerful article, Beth. I am a giver but too often I give hoping to get even if it takes years to “get” there. I want a close relationship with my husband but sometimes, I have to admit, that my motives might not have been aligned quite right. The blessing is that I have a good marriage and I am thankful for my husband and that I am getting a return on my giving. I started out wanting to be sure that I would never become bitter and the neat thing is that when you start giving, often the right motive will come as you make giving a habit for life.

      P.S. Beth, I just went to ‘pin’ your post, and I will in a second. You really, really should make those questions into a graphic. That would be powerful!! I agree!!

  • Hey Beth … My favorite T-shirt in high school featured those famous words, ‘I LOVE MY ATTITUDE PROBLEM.’

    Kind of sad when that lingers too far into our adult years, yes? We need to check it at the door …

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