Are You Grateful For The Life You've Created?
Gratitude empowers endurance.
Yes/No: We are grateful for the life we are creating (or have created).
Why Does This Issue Matter?
History changes. While the actual events do not change, how we remember them is in constant flux. Few people recognize how much that current feelings shade how we view the past. A simple test for the state of someone's relationship is to ask them to tell the stories about how they met, the early years of their marriage, and how they see some of those early struggles. Healthy couples view the early struggles with a sense of gratitude and glee. Unhealthy couples view the early years in a much more painful light. Both might describe similar issues, but one remembers the good and the other the bad.
It's not unusual for a husband or wife to tell me, "I never really loved them." As they look back on their past, they have now convinced themselves that they were never in love. While it's possible someone might have gotten married for the wrong reasons, it's a rare case. Instead, their present struggles have colored their past experiences.
So if you are grateful for the past, it's a good sign. If you are not grateful, it's a warning sign.
What If You Said Yes (4-5 on the assessment)?
If you said yes, continually use the good feelings and memories to add to your success. Healthy couples often create a narrative of how they met, why they fell in love, and how their love has endured through multiple seasons. Tell the story. Remember the moments. Use gratitude to empower you to overcome difficulties and work through tensions. While kids might roll their eyes at hearing the old stories, it is good for them to know the foundation upon which the family is built. It's encouraging to know the stability. Tell the stories, remember the feelings, and continue to move forward with positivity.
What If You Said No (0-3 on the assessment)?
If you said no, pay attention. First, consider if you are simply re-writing history. Don't allow current struggles to taint past experiences. Second, if you look back with pessimism, recognize you may not be seeing things clearly. Instead, allow the lack of gratitude to motivate you to do the work necessary to help the marriage. A lack of gratitude for the past is a clear sign that work needs to be done. Do the work. Combine good content with a healthy community in order to work on your marriage.
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