Ready for an attitude adjustment? This will have a powerful effect in your relationship with your future spouse and children. Philippians 2:5-9 (NASB) says, “ Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name. . .”
God’s desire is to lift us up–to exalt us; but his way of doing this is exactly opposite to our natural inclinations. In Christ, the way up is actually. . . down! It’s not through grasping and clawing our way to the top, but through humbling ourselves and becoming obedient to the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the Spirit will say, “Speak up! Let your voice be heard.” Other times he may say, be quiet. Don’t respond to that.” Marriage affords us with many opportunities to become more Christ-like in how we respond to our spouses. Don’t be surprised that when the honeymoon wears off and familiarity sets in, a spiritual erosion begins to take place. It may sometimes seem as though the very person you most dearly love has become an adversary! Actually, it’s Satan who is our adversary. He is bent on destroying marriage because of what it represents: the relationship of Christ to his church. So, once you get married, remember who the enemy is!
Where does the power come from? God knows that we are unable to maintain Christ-like attitudes without his empowerment. Ready for an attitude adjustment? Marriage is often“iron sharpening iron” (Proverbs [27:17]) and consequently we will have frequent occasions to change our attitudes to be more godly in how we respond to our spouses. But where does the power come from to actually do this? In John 15:4-5 Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” The secret is staying connected to Christ. He wants to pour a fresh supply of his love into our hearts every day; then out of that abiding relationship comes the “Beatitudes” (Matthew 5:1-11), the “Fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians [5:22]-23), and the expressions of love found in 1 Corinthians 13
Another one of the attitudes needed for a successful marriage is kindness. Every day look for opportunities to do something kind for someone. Give sincere compliments, show appreciation, and be accepting of others, even when they don’t deserve it. Ready for an attitude adjustment? Ephesians [4:32] says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Sow into your most valued relationships every day. (I Peter 4:8) Practice doing and saying things that make others feel special.
Here are some suggestions:
(1) Leave a kind note for someone you love.
(2) Let another driver merge into your lane with a smile on your face. Don’t criticize your spouse’s driving.
(3) Cook dinner or do the dishes without being asked if that is not something you normally do for your spouse.
(4) Pass along a great book you have finished reading. Take time to listen to something your spouse is interested in, like a book they are reading, even if you normally would not be interested in that topic/ book.
(5) Give sincere compliments for things the other person had some control over, but don’t flatter them. (Flattery means giving excessive complements –often for selfish gain.) A sincere compliment would be: “I really like that dress.”
Humility is the oil that makes everything in your life work right. When applied to conflict, it brings resolve faster than anything else. Humility is not weakness, it’s one of the attitudes needed for a successful marriage. It is strength! Ready for an attitude adjustment? What made Jesus so powerful and attractive was his humility. In John [5:19], Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” (See also: John [5:30], 41; [6:38]; [7:16], 28, 42) Practice humility by giving credit to others for your success, praising others and helping them succeed, admitting your mistakes, learning from others, by being interruptible, and by serving others. Change how you respond to those who annoy you, rather than focusing on how you can change them. Jesus tells us, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. . .” (Matthew [5:43]-48). It also takes humility to pursue peace. Psalm [34:14] reads, “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. (See also: Romans [14:19]; 2 Timothy [2:22]; 1 Peter [3:11]). You don’t always have to be right or have the final word. Learn to let it go and gracefully be wrong. I’ve often learned the hard way that yielding my right to be right produces a lot more peace and harmony with others than stubbornly holding on to my own opinion.
Give your soul an “oil change”. Repent of pride often. Here are some of the more subtle manifestations of pride to watch for: fault-finding, a harsh spirit, superficiality, defensiveness, presumption before God, desperation for attention, and neglecting others. Self-pity is perhaps the most insidious manifestation of pride. In his article entitled, Lay Aside the Weight of Self-pity, Jon Bloom, staff writer for DesiringGod.org reminds us, “Self-pity is our sinful, selfish response to something not going the way we think it should. And it’s a subtle sin; we often don’t recognize it right away because it wears the disguise of righteous indignation. We feel justified to indulge it after the injustice we suffered, even if all that happened was we didn’t get our way.” As the old saying goes, “Self-pity is just pride having a bad day.”
The person who is humble is also honest and self-revealing. Learn to be vulnerable with one or two people you can really trust. Confront your blind spots and ungodly beliefs. Tell the truth, even when it’s hard.
Ready for an attitude adjustment? Focus on changing yourself, not others. You can’t control others, but you can control yourself. A humble person realizes they don’t have all the answers. Continue practicing the attitudes needed for a successful marriage even after you are married. In addition to good books, be on the lookout for web articles from trusted sources, podcasts, God-centered radio broadcasts, and seminars. You’ll also want to spend some time talking with successful married couples. Ask them lots of questions!
Keep your word, even if it means unexpected sacrifice. “. . . who swears to his own hurt and does not change.” (Psalm 15:4) When you say you’ll be there at such and such a time—are you? When you obligate yourself to repay a debt on time, do you? When you say you’ll pray for someone, do you? Trustworthiness is one of the chief attitudes needed for a successful marriage. This issue of trustworthiness must be rock solid; your marriage partner needs to know that they can count on you—that you will follow through on what you said you would do! Think of it as an investment. Every time you follow through on what you said you would do, you have invested in your own character and the well-being of someone else.
The Bible is very clear about the seriousness of making a vow. Ecclesiastes 5:4-7 says, “When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.” (See also Numbers 30:1-2; Matthew [5:33]-37; Deuteronomy [23:21]-23; Romans 13:7).
Honesty requires a commitment to the truth. If truth is different for everyone or it’s always changing, then there is no such thing as real honesty! Once you have dedicated yourself to God, you have committed yourself to the truth. At that point, how you feel or how others feel has nothing to do with it. Your main goal is to please God by always telling the truth, even when it’s hard. Ephesians [4:25] says, “ Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” When this is the way you live, the right people will gain confidence in you, and the wrong people will walk the other way. (See also: Colossians 3:9; Proverbs 14:5; [24:26]; 1 Peter [3:10]-12)
Ready for an attitude adjustment? Here are some practical ways you can practice honesty, one of the main attitudes needed for a successful marriage: (1) Think before you speak. It’s so easy to stretch the truth when you’re being impulsive. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. (2) Simply your statements so that everyone clearly understands your message. (3) Tell it like it is, rather than sugar-coating it. (4) Accept responsibility for mistakes you have made.
So here are the four attitudes again: kindness, humility, trustworthiness, and honesty. These are the essential attitudes needed for a successful marriage. For further study we highly recommend the book, The Difference Maker. John Maxwell is a leadership expert who shows how two people with the same skills and abilities, in the same situation, end up with two totally different outcomes. He talks about how to make your attitude your greatest asset, and spells out five big attitude obstacles: discouragement, change, problems, fear, and failure. As you learn these principles, you will be setting yourself up for making a huge difference in the lives of others.
For more information on this and other topics related to marriage and family, visit our home page.