In the movie Serenity, an experiment is done to remove all hostility and aggression in humans. The results of the experiment were that people stopped. Sure, they stopped fighting, but they also stopped caring. They stopped going to work. They stopped loving, eating, moving—they stopped living.
I believe that dissatisfaction plays a key role in our lives. It moves us to action.
The pattern may be easiest to see in your physical life. You get hungry, that is, you are dissatisfied with the current condition of your digestive system. This moves you to eat something, to recharge yourself physically. Ahhh! You return to a state of satisfaction, contentment, and relief. You don’t question if something’s wrong with you when you’re hungry. You accept this as a normal, healthy part of living. The dissatisfaction moves you to do something good.
However, when a hint of dissatisfaction in your relationship grows, it can send you and your spouse into a huge tailspin.
“Here we go again!” I hear my clients say. They feel so defeated, back to square one, with all progress lost. This is often when fear-based decisions are made that lead to desperation and then more fear. It can spiral downward in a hurry.
What if discontent simply means you’re hungry for more good in your marriage? How would you approach your situation differently?
The first battle to be won is in your mind. Zig Ziglar said, “We need a check-up from the neck up to avoid stinkin’ thinkin’.” Capturing your thoughts is important because you respond to what you put in your mind—whether it’s true or not.
Close your eyes and imagine your favorite meal. You see the steam rising. You can almost smell the aroma. Even though no plate of delicious food is present, you will actually begin to salivate! You prepare to act according to your thoughts.
When negative thoughts are entertained, responses line up with them. “She thinks I’m stupid!” and “He doesn’t love me,” can turn your face to a scowl, lead you to argue or withdraw, or turn to an addiction for comfort. Stinkin’ thinkin’ points in the wrong direction.
What if your marital dissatisfaction led to thoughts like this instead? “I’m hungry for more affection!” “It would be great to have another serving of playfulness.” “I should have recreation every week!” “Please pass me more reassurance.” How would you respond differently? You might replace scowls with smiles, have more open eye contact, and reach out with gentle touches and affirming words. That sounds like a banquet to enjoy!
You can do this!