A staggering statistic from the Art of Marriage DVD series prompted this post. On average, the ratio of negative to positive things a person will say about their spouse is 15 to 1! 15 to 1! I was shocked when I first heard this, but in looking back and being truthful, I was excelling at this behavior and probably could have taken the blue ribbon home. Let’s just be real afterall. I remember many early mornings running with my ladies training for a half marathon and spending the entire time yapping in their ears about all my husband’s issues and problems, while of course I had the answers to all of them if he would only listen. No wonder we were on the divorce course (and that’s another blog post for another time). Let’s just say God dealt with me on that one and we’ve happily celebrated 20 years this year. But from that, I created this visual in my mind of a cup of marbles that sits between a husband and wife that represents the relative state of either building up or tearing down the marriage.
As newlyweds, the cup is overflowing with *love marbles* and both the husband and wife are happily taking, taking marbles out of the cup. Life is grand. But they are depleting the supply until eventually there’s only one lonely marble rolling around in the cup. Someone grabs it. Hmm. Now the husband and wife are both pulling on the cup trying to get more love marbles out but of course that’s not working. So they start blaming each other that there’s *no love* in the cup and demanding that the other person put marbles in. “You aren’t doing this… you aren’t doing that… if you would do this, I would be happy… if she would only change this… if he would only change that…” We get focused on everything the other person is doing wrong and happily tell everyone about it, 15 to 1. In our thoughts, in our words, in our actions, we are sending the message that our spouse is unworthy and we are reinforcing it in our own minds. We are tearing the marriage down. How do we turn this around? How do we walk in faith in our marriages to build them up? The answer is simple, change the ratio.
The faith walk in marriage is unconditional love from the husband and unconditional respect from the wife. Whether or not your spouse is being a putz, you are called to be unconditionally loving or unconditionally respectful (assuming we are not talking about an abuse situation). This means speaking to and about your spouse in loving and respectful ways. Stop and check yourself before you say something – is it respectful or disrespectful, loving or unloving? Make an intentional effort to say something nice to and about your spouse every day and cut down on the complaints. Make the ratio 10 to 1, make it 5 to 1, make it 1 to 1. Keep working it down. You will see how quickly the *love cup* starts filling up again. The level of resistance you feel to doing this will tell you how far off the path you’ve veered from God’s design for marriage. When I started doing this, I was surprised to see two things (1) how much trust I had lost from my husband that I needed to rebuild; he came to expect that I was just always going to cut him down and (2) how much more committed I felt to the marriage just by staying in the game and staying respectful even during tough conversations.
Your marriage is worth it; your spouse is worth it. Give it this much, change the ratio, to see the glory of God’s design start to manifest in it.