A Marriage Makeover
Denzil and Candice were absolutely sure that they were right for each other. However, over the years they have lived together through a lot of messy situations and have seen the many sides of each other that they don’t like.
Their wonderful feelings for each other turned from respect and attraction to disappointment and disgust. Candice says, “I now feel like maybe I married the wrong person.” Denzil asks, “Why do I feel this way and what can I do about it?”
Many of us have seen couples who started off so right and ended up so wrong. They move from harmony to hostility and eventually come to rest at apathy. “The challenge is not to keep on loving the person we thought we were marrying,” observe Evelyn and James Whitehead, “but to love the person we did marry!”
Denzil and Candice need a marriage makeover.
You’ve all seen what a physical makeover is. Somebody looses a bunch of weight and they get some new clothes. They get a new hairstyle and new makeup. All of a sudden a very average looking person is stunning. They’re incredibly beautiful. Wow! What happened? They had a makeover.
To keep a marriage on the right track sometimes requires a marriage makeover. Some makeovers are extreme, while others simply require a refocusing on some basic attitudes and habits. Denzil and Candice do not need an extreme makeover, but here are some changes I would help them make.
I would help them focus on cultivating gratitude in their marriage. Failing to cultivate gratitude gives birth to contempt in our marriages which leads to disrespect, hatred, disapproval, scorn, and condescension. According to John Gottman, contempt is fueled by long-simmering negative thoughts about your spouse. It is especially poisonous to a marriage because it conveys disgust and revulsion. Contributing to this contempt is the habit of viewing certain traits in our spouse as negative. I propose that we learn to create positive alternatives.
Denzil viewed Candice as argumentative. He thought all she wanted to do was fight. Instead, Candice was passionate and assertive about their relationship. Denzil should be grateful that she cares about their marriage.
Next, I would teach them how to complain without being critical. No spouse is perfect. Denzil does not always follow through on his plans and Candice has become sloppy in caring for her physical condition. I am not suggesting that in cultivating gratitude in their marriage that they can never complain about legitimate failures. However, criticism adds on some negative words about your spouse’s character or personality. Gottman says that to turn any complaint into a criticism, just add these words: “What is wrong with you?”
A complaint Candice had about Denzil related to their agreement to take turns sweeping the kitchen floor. “Why are you so forgetful? I hate having to always sweep the kitchen floor when it’s your turn. You just don’t care.” That sounds more like a harsh and stinging criticism. It’s a legitimate complaint, but she is escalating it to an attack level. Here is a better way of saying it: “Denzil, we agreed that we’d take turns sweeping the kitchen floor.
I’m really angry that you didn’t sweep it last night.” I think Denzil’s response will be much healthier if she confronts him in this manner.
The next step in their marriage makeover would be to focus on grace rather than revenge.
Even in the moments of anger, betrayal, exasperation, and hurt, we are called to pursue our spouse, to embrace them, and to grow toward them. The primary way that Denzil and Candice are going to do this is by letting the love of God in them redefine their feelings and frustrations.
They will have to practice the daily discipline of forgiveness when they each fail to perform according to the other’s expectations. Jesus calls us to love those who don't measure up to our expectations.
If we don't, they become the object of our judgment and scorn. As Denzil and Candice choose grace rather than revenge, they will keep bitterness, revenge and anger from destroying their marriage.
To complete their marriage makeover, I would have Denzil and Candice focus on living the love they promised. On their wedding day they stood before each other and promised a lifetime of commitment. The very fact that we make public promises regarding our marriage commitment is because reality tells us that such promises will be tested. Times of testing do not mean we have married the wrong person.
The challenge as noted earlier is to keep loving the person we did marry. A man married to the same woman for 72 years was asked what had kept them together all these years. His quick response was, “An abiding determination to do so.”
Does your marriage need a makeover? Do not run from the struggles you find in your marriage. Draw nearer to God and to your spouse because of them. I have learned that a good marriage is not something you find. It is something you work for.
Comment from user:
Indian weddings are very bright events, filled with ritual and celebration, that continue for several days. They are not small affairs, often with 400-1000 people attending (many of whom are unknown to the bride and groom). Though most marriages are arranged, some couples in urban areas have love marriages. The true Indian wedding is about two families getting wedded socially with much less emphasis on the individuals involved.