My wife and I sat on the porch debating a topic that I found interesting and had spent a lot of time thinking about. I thought we were having a healthy disagreement, but it was her first time really wrestling with the subject, so she was far less prepared than I was. I peppered her with data and sources and countered every argument with a strong defense. Suddenly she blurted out, “See? This is why I can’t have these discussions with you! You treat me like an idiot.”
I was shocked. I didn’t intend to make her feel that way, and yet somehow I had. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that even though it wasn’t my intent to treat her like that, I took advantage of the fact that it wasn’t a fair fight. As a result, my arrogance impacted how I had the conversation with her. We often think our marital challenges stem from our actions. But the truth is, our attitude in marriage shapes our actions in marriage. Here are 3 attitudes that are ruining your marriage.
Arrogance (as I displayed above) is a poisonous attitude. In the context of your marriage, it can be downright destructive. Arrogance assumes I have nothing to gain from hearing my wife. It assumes she’s wrong before hearing her out or, more to the point, it assumes I’m right. Arrogance makes it impossible for me to learn from my wife, which means our marriage won’t mature into the fullness of what it can be.
If arrogance is ruining your marriage, what’s the solution? Humility. Humility assumes there’s something you don’t know, and acknowledges that there’s always an opportunity to learn from everyone, especially your wife. When we’re humble, we can admit that only those who know us best can see the deepest truths about us.
Animosity means “strong hostility.” It may go without saying, but if you are harboring animosity against your wife, your marriage is in trouble. This doesn’t mean you can never be angry. Anger is normal and even healthy in a relationship. However, animosity takes anger to the next level. Animosity moves you to keep a record of wrongs. It stews over the offenses and thinks about how to get even. Animosity may cause you to purposefully look for ways to hurt your wife as a way of “winning.” Animosity causes you to see your spouse as the enemy.Love is a choice to prioritize the good of another over your own.
If animosity is the attitude in marriage that turns your wife into your enemy, what’s the solution? Self-giving love. Wait—you can’t both love and hate someone, right? Those two feelings are mutually exclusive. Correct—but only if love were a feeling. However, I contend that it is not. Love is a choice to prioritize the good of another over your own. Love serves its enemy. Therefore love turns enemies into friends. So how do you cure your animosity? Begin practicing acts of self-giving love for your wife, even when you don’t want to.
As bad as animosity is, apathy is worse. If you are apathetic, you just don’t care. Is my marriage falling apart? Oh well. Does this action drive a wedge between my wife and me? What do I care? Apathy is almost impossible to shift because, by its very definition, it means you don’t care to change. You are completely unmotivated. And change is hard, so if you’re going to change, you have to be motivated.
So what can you do if apathy is the attitude in marriage that is ruining your relationship? Confess it to a trusted friend. I know that sounds like the smallest step ever, but remember, if you’re apathetic, you don’t care. To confess at least puts it out into the world in a way that invites feedback from someone who cares for you, which gives you the opportunity to hear someone else’s perspective and consider that making a change might be worthwhile. In short, confession is a baby step toward change, and it has the power to subtly shift the inertia of apathy toward interest.
Sound off: What other attitudes can ruin a marriage?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your wife and ask, “Where in our relationship could I have a better attitude?”