As I’ve worked with married couples over the past few decades, some consistent issues couples face just kept popping up. And no matter what I did, I just couldn’t figure them out—until a few years ago.
Mystery 1: Why do some married people respond to marriage advice while others don’t?
Mystery 2: Why would someone get a divorce without first seeking help?
Mystery 3: What makes some couples thrive, some quit, and others just survive?
Surprisingly, I found the answers when I wasn’t looking. While studying Dr. Carol Dweck’s research on what makes happy couples happy, I learned that happy couples think in a way unhappy couples don’t. It also revealed the No. 1 reason some marriages grow, and others don’t.
For your marriage to grow, you must have a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset.Happy couples think in a way unhappy couples don’t.
The Two Mindsets
A growth mindset says, “I’m open to the idea that my thinking may need adjustment.”
A fixed mindset says, “It is what it is.”
This explains why some people change from marriage enrichment, and others don’t; why some take advice while others won’t; and why some people are happy, and others aren’t. Even if you are struggling, especially if you are struggling, would you be open to having a growth mindset?
Let me give you an example of the power of a mindset shift.
Shifting Your Mindset
Over the course of our marriage, two of my close family members died within a two-year period. One was 26 and one was 49. I was devastated, to say the least. But out of this tragedy, we gained some perspective that has mattered to our marriage. When we are faced with challenging situations or difficulties, as tempting as it is to catastrophize the moment, instead, we often repeat: “We know tragedy, and this ain’t it.”
For instance, while checking into a hotel, I discovered I had booked it for the wrong night. While there was a room available, the rate was double. Here’s the relational math: My mistake, plus Nancie’s shrewdness with money, could have equaled her saying, “Are you kidding me right now?” Instead, when I called, her response to my mistake was, “Hey, we know tragedy, and this ain’t it.” This only happened because Nancie had a growth mindset. She leveraged this painful season in our lives to learn how to love me better. These types of moments matter greatly to our marriages.
Guys, when you think about your marriage, do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? Does your mindset say, “I’m open to the idea that my thinking may need adjustment?” Or does your mindset say that “it is what it is?”
Sound off: When was a time you changed your mindset and it changed your marriage?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “In what ways do you think you have room to grow?”