Are you facing conflict in your marriage? Make the first move. Change your mindset, respond with compassion, dwell on the positives. Change begins with you.

All changes in our relationships should start with ourselves. It may be comforting to blame our spouse for the inadequacies of our marriage and expect them to change and meet our demands. But this approach is not only ineffective; it is also unloving.

The truth is, I can’t control my spouse. I can certainly try, but I most likely won’t succeed.

Even if I do manage to coerce my spouse into the behaviour I want from them, I will undermine our trust, which will ultimately erode our intimacy. Domination, manipulation, coercion or any other form of control, really is a losing strategy in any love relationship.

Changing Your Mindset

Instead, for practical and powerful change in our relationships, we need to look to ourselves. Our thoughts inform and motivate our actions, so we must think about changing our mindset. For example:

  • If we are in the habit of criticising our spouse, we can apply some mental discipline by consciously thinking about them compassionately.
  • Instead of keeping a mental list of our grievances against our spouse, we can make a mental list of our gratefulness.
  • If we are in the habit of reacting aggressively when things don’t go the way we want, we can challenge our attitude of entitlement.
  • If we tend to brood on past hurts and disappointments, we can consciously discipline our thinking to dwell on positive memories instead.

Make the First Move

Almost every marriage will have periods of disillusionment. If we are of a mind to wait for our spouse to lift their game, we are in danger of slipping into a downward spiral of increasing isolation.

Don’t wait for the other person. Be the grown-up and make the first move.

Change your thinking, and you will change your reactions. And that will change the dynamic of your relationship. It’s that simple.

Originally published at Smart Loving. Image by Everton Vila at Unsplash.

About the Author: Byron and Francine Pirola

Married for 25 years, with 5 children, Byron & Francine Pirola are the founders and co-authors of the SmartLoving Series – marriage enrichment and marriage preparation courses designed to help build successful and resilient marriages. International speakers and authors of numerous articles on marriage, more than 3000 couples have attended their programs, workshops and conferences in Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain Byron & Francine are Executive Directors of the Marriage Resource Centre from which they run SmartLoving programs and produce digital resources. Francine graduated from Fordham University with a Masters in Religion and Religious Education. Byron is a founding partner of the strategic consulting firm, Port Jackson Partners Limited, and a Director of both listed and unlisted companies. He holds a PhD from the Commonwealth Centre for Gene Technology, Adelaide University.

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