Self-centered habits are difficult to break, and ones that are carried into a marriage often cause discomfort or discontent. Changing your habits from being self-focused to being centered on your spouse can be challenging, but these tasks are more easily accomplished with a willing attitude and heartfelt effort. Let’s take a look at six ways you can make the switch by changing your perspective.
Selfish → Selfless
Making the shift from being selfish to being selfless in your marriage is not always as easy as it sounds. For anyone used to being independent and self-sufficient, it is easy to develop a routine and structure. Marriage changes that routine. There is no doubt that being selfless all the time is nearly impossible, but making the conscious effort to put your partner’s needs above your own can have a profound impact on your marriage. It’s not perfection that is required – simply a willingness to put your partner first.
Lazy → Attentive
Moving from an attitude of laziness to being fully attentive is, similarly, difficult. This switch often has to be made several times during the course of a marriage as a couple becomes comfortable with their routine. Laziness does not necessarily mean you are ignoring or avoiding your spouse; it could simply be a state of being too relaxed with the day-to-day events of your marriage. Make an open and conscious effort to change your approach and keep your relationship fresh. Be attentive to your spouse by making each moment and each decision with him or her in mind.
Speaker → Listener
Another switch that must be conscious and intentional is that of transitioning from speaker to listener. Many of us desire to be heard but find it difficult to listen when others need us to hear. Practicing this switch is beneficial not only for your marriage but also for other relationships and friendships. Listening does not just mean hearing the words being spoken, but rather it is a decision of awareness to try to understand the message that is being shared. There is not always a need to respond, nor is it an expectation that you always have the right answer. It is simply moving from being the one who speaks to being one who listens.
Division → Unity
It is vital that your marriage be one that speaks of unity rather than of division. Making the switch from seeing your partner as an opponent to a teammate is necessary for the success of your relationship. Your partner should be your confidant – the person you look to for ideas, for encouragement, for inspiration. If your marriage is one that hosts discontentment or competition for attention, it might be beneficial to openly converse about hopes and expectations as a way to increase your ability to work as a team.
Then → Now
Leave the past in the past! What happened before, even in your own relationship, that has been forgiven should be left alone. Fair fighting rules suggest that anything that has been forgiven is off limits for arguments, disagreements, or comparisons. “Forgive and forget” is not a concept that, as humans, we can easily accomplish. Instead, forgiveness is a daily effort to move forward and leave the past behind. Conversely, moving from a “then” perspective to a “now” perspective, also means that one or both partners should avoid repeating behaviors that the other finds frustrating or angering. Forgiveness and staying in the now is a process that requires both partners.
Me → Us
Perhaps the most important switch to make is the one from a “me” mindset to an “us” mindset. This concept encompasses all aspects of a couple’s life, and is a willingness to always include your partner in decisions, events, and special moments in your life. Being willing to include your spouse does not mean you must relinquish your independence. Rather, it means increasing your independence by choosing to include someone in your life who, otherwise, would not have a say in your day-to-day tasks.
Making a change in your daily habits is not always an easy step to take, but it is a feasible one. Again, you are human. Your spouse is human. Neither of you will achieve perfection in your relationship, but changing perspectives and having a willing attitude to do so can enrich your married life.