Do you desire for transformation in your marriage? Deeper connection? Better communication? Adjustments in how you parent together? In today’s #MarriageMonday, we’re sharing one of the most important ingredients of change in a marriage.
Mark: You know the old adage, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got?” That statement is true in all of life. However, it’s especially true in marriage.
Jill: It really is. Mark and I often describe ourselves post-crisis as Mark and Jill 2.0. The 1.0 version of our relationship had some unhealthy thinking patterns and unhealthy responses to each other.
Mark: That might just be an understatement! Mark and Jill 1.0 weren’t fully surrendered to doing things God’s way; there was too much of themselves in the way.
Jill: How has that changed? Well, Mark and Jill 2.0 exists because WE have changed. We didn’t just learn about changes that needed to happen, we actually made the changes that needed to happen day in and day out.
Mark: Exactly. So often we think that it’s information that will change us. If we just read this book, if we just attend this seminar, if we just listen to this podcast, then we’ll change. But information alone doesn’t lead to transformation.
Jill: In fact, there’s an important piece that’s missing from that. The formula for change is this: Information + Application = Transformation. If we only focus on information, we are missing a major piece of the equation.
Mark: The application is really the action part. That’s what’s so critical to the transformation that we all desire. Information alone is just that: information.
Jill: We have to be willing to actually break out of our ruts. For example, a big growth area for me has been trying to learn how to embrace my emotions, which means that in real-time I have to apply what I’ve learned. When I find myself feeling sad, I often will catch myself pushing emotions aside, just like I’ve done for over 50 years. I’ll “buck up.” However, I catch myself and I have to say, “Nope that’s not what Jill 2.0 does.” I have to consciously make that change so I can embrace my emotions, and be more available to connect with Mark, sharing with him about the emotions I’m experiencing, or simply just allowing myself to cry or experience grief. This is an example of making an individual change because when I’m a better me, we’re a better we.
Mark: There are changes each of us have to make individually, and then there are changes we need to make together, like prioritizing date nights or changing the way we communicate to one another. However, here’s the catch, and this is the attitude-shift so many of us need: We have to be willing to do what we need to do regardless of whether our spouse applies what they’re learning or not. That’s our responsibility.
Jill: This is so important. You are called to be growing more like Jesus every day. There isn’t a caveat in that call that says, “We should grow as long as the people around us are growing.” It doesn’t work that way.
Mark: It doesn’t. In fact, Matthew 5:14 says, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden, nor do people light a lamp and put it in a basket but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so they may see your good works and give glory to your Father, who is in heaven.”
Jill: You are called to be a light in your marriage, a light in your parenting, a light in your family, in your workplace, and the list goes on. It’s an individual call. We hear all the time from people who want to see their relationship change, but their spouse isn’t willing to change. Let us let you in on a secret: If one person changes, the relationship changes.
Mark: Did you catch that? If one person changes, the relationship changes. That is such a valuable truth. We can’t control our spouse, but we can control ourselves. If we choose to do nothing and our spouse chooses to do nothing, our relationship is guaranteed to remain the same. However, if we make a change, the dynamic of the relationship will change because the elements at play are no longer the same.
Jill: Today, we want to leave you with one call-to-action: Be willing to do what you need to do, and to change where you need to change. That is a core part of experiencing the transformation in your marriage that you long for.
Looking for more marriage resources? Start with No More Perfect Marriages!
Do you feel like your marriage is hanging on by a thread (or you want to make sure it doesn’t get there)? Consider our Marriage 2.0 Intensive that we host at our home in Normal, IL. We only work with one couple at a time. We’d love to work with you!
Want regular encouragement?
Subscribe to get Jill's latest content by email.
Jill and Mark, thank you for this blog post!
Such golden nuggets here!!
If I want my relationship to change, I have to change. But I can’t just read books or blogs or listen to podcasts or even go to counseling if I am not willing to apply what I have learned to change myself.
I love it when you write, “ The formula for change is this: Information + Application = Transformation. If we only focus on information, we are missing a major piece of the equation.”
We can have all the information in the world, but if we don’t actually use it, what good is it?!
It is MY RESPONSIBILITY to apply the information I learn about being a better spouse to my marriage, whether my spouse is changing or not.
“We have to be willing to do what we need to do regardless of whether our spouse applies what they’re learning or not. That’s our responsibility.”
It is my job to try and make myself a better partner in the marriage relationship.
“We can’t control our spouse, but we can control ourselves. If we choose to do nothing and our spouse chooses to do nothing, our relationship is guaranteed to remain the same. However, if we make a change, the dynamic of the relationship will change because the elements at play are no longer the same.”
“We hear all the time from people who want to see their relationship change, but their spouse isn’t willing to change. Let us let you in on a secret: If one person changes, the relationship changes.”
If I change, my relationship will change too!
Yes, yes, yes!
I’m glad I read this! Such wisdom & insight to think on…& then, apply! (just like you said😁)
How do I respond when it feels like my husband’s efforts are just a reflection of mine, and not truly his OWN? As long as I’M doing everything I should, then he responds to that by doing all that he should. But if I am struggling, feeling down, or having a week where I’m just not myself, and therefore not pouring my all into the every day care for him, myself, and us, then anything he was doing, any effort on his part, ceases. It’s like, he’s fine with mediocre. He’ll think “We’re fine, I don’t need to do anything.” and I’m left with unfulfilled desires for my husband to lead, pursue, nourish, etc. This cycle really puts me in a tough spot and really messes with me mentally and emotionally. I want GENUINE effort. Effort that is being made because he WANTS to and that is not contingent on mine.
I am at a loss on how to handle this and how to respond. The state of our marriage really effects my mental health and this cycle is discouraging….
Brook, you guys likely have the avoider/vacillator or pleaser/vacillator cycle going on. I HIGHLY recommend you read the book How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich. It will explain a lot. You guys might also consider doing a Marriage 2.0 Intensive with us or some marriage coaching. We can definitely help you understand it. However, the biggest thing you can do–because you can only control you–is to change your expectations. Change them to better match the reality of your husband’s abilities. When you do that, you will begin to find more contentment. It’s not settling for less, it’s accepting your spouse for who he is. It makes a BIG difference.