Last year on our 17th anniversary, I wrote a blog entitled, “17 reasons I have a great marriage” -- to this day, it has been the most read blog post I’ve ever put up. I’m guessing today’s won’t have quite as much success. Because now, on our 18th anniversary, I’m going to show you how I could end my marriage before our 20th anniversary. It’s actually quite simple, and if you follow these five steps, you can end your marriage, too! (Don’t worry, if you’re working on a great marriage, I have a list for you, too!)
- Make your marriage about you: This is the first and most important step in ending your marriage. Making sure your marriage centers around you is crucial in bringing it to a screeching halt. Nothing is more draining about other people than when they focus everything on themselves.
- Make marriage about your happiness: If you’re working hard to make your marriage about you, this should be relatively easy piece to add to your marriage-ending arsenal. Make the majority of decisions about your marriage (and family!) that revolve around what makes you happy and content.
- Keep track of everything wrong your spouse does: This is a very important list, and truly, might make the difference in whether or not your marriage ends appropriately. Keep this list current, keep it dated and keep it very private until just the right time. I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep a VERY detailed list of wrongs your spouse has committed. (Practical tip: It’s best to have two lists. One of the obvious offenses [ie. when your spouse embarrasses you in public] and one of the unknown offenses [ie. your spouse puts their inside-out socks into the laundry hamper]. Trust me, you’ll want both lists at the end!)
- ALWAYS assume your spouse has ulterior motives: If you actually think your spouse is doing something out of love, simply open up your secret book of lists (step #3) and review them. After just a few minutes you’ll realize that whatever acts of niceness your spouse is performing must be making up for something on one of your lists.
- NEVER forgive, and if you accidentally do, NEVER forget: Forgiveness is weakness when it comes to ending your marriage. Once you start down the slippery slope of forgiveness, you’ll start to see the good in your spouse and experience the grace of God in your marriage. Trust me on this, if you want to end your marriage, forgiveness is a killer. Don’t do it!
Thankfully, by God’s grace, I actually have no intention of trying to end my marriage in the next two years. There are three basic reasons for this. First, (you really should read last year’s blog about this!) I’ve made a commitment to God, and to my wife, to fight for our union. That was a “death til’ us part” commitment, and since I’m blogging, I must be living, and that means I’m still holding up my end of the covenant. Second, I’m running out of words and ways to describe my wife. Next to God, she has been the most important person in my life. She has endured more than anyone, and been my greatest cheerleader and fan. Why would I want to end that? Third, and honestly, this is a bit on the practical side, but I checked the marriage market for middle-aged, slightly overweight, Mexican men with pitiful investment portfolios (thanks DK for helping me try to change this one!), twelve-year-old mini-vans, furry bodies and having three kids....things aren’t looking good for me. If my wife can love me in this condition (and I often think she’s crazy for doing so!) then I’m more than happy to keep this marriage thing going!
Truth is, however, the key to our marriage has been the grace of God in our lives. By His help we’ve been able to keep this thing afloat. Here are five not-so-secret secrets to our marriage success: (For those that need a more comprehensive list, check out this post with 17 not-so-secret secrets.)
- Make your marriage about serving others: It’s not easy putting others first, but it’s the first part of a strong relationship. I’ve seen too many friendships, businesses and marriages end over wrong focus in the relationship. When I focus on me, I get in the way of everything. When I focus on others (my spouse), their success becomes my success, their joy, my joy and their happiness...my happiness. Truly, deeply and profoundly.
- Make your marriage about holiness, not happiness: If I focus on becoming who God wants me to be, and less about whether or not I’m happy at any given moment, I’ll find two life-changing facts. One, I’m far more content in my place in life when I’m being changed into the man/husband/father God wants me to be, and two -- that new-found contentment will lead to a profound joy and happiness that circumstances can never provide OR take away.
- Keep your lists short: In the Bible, Paul tells us, “Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath...” In other words -- resolve your conflicts with each other. And while he wasn’t specifically writing about marriage, it works there to! Clean up your list, every day, with your spouse. Resolve what needs to be resolved (or at least start the process) and forgive what needs to be forgiven. (Make sure you clear out your garbage, too!)
- ALWAYS assume the best in your spouse: If you start the day by assuming the best in your spouse’s actions and motives, you’ll go a long way in keeping your lists short. I’m not talking about ignoring obvious problems or excusing away abusive or sinful behavior, I’m talking about assuming flowers were given because of love (not to cover a wrong), that sex was offered out of desire (not out of conflict resolution) etc...
- NEVER hold on to wrong once it has been forgiven: If you’re keeping your lists short (step #3), make sure you don’t keep the completed pages in the back of your notebook. Again, I’m not talking about ignoring patterns of sin or unfaithfulness, I’m talking about truly forgiving your spouse and releasing them from the wrong they’ve committed.
I hope you’ll choose the second list of five, over the first! Marriage is hard work, but I can tell you that after 18 years of hard work, you couldn’t offer me enough money, power or status to make me want to end mine. God has given me such a great gift in my wife Traci, and because we’re both working through our imperfections with Him, and with each other, we’re making a pretty good go at this marriage. And it’s worth it. You are worth it, and so is your marriage!
Go ahead and take the plunge, life -- and marriage! -- is always better on the water!