If you don't change, nothing will.This maxim can apply to most every aspect of life. If things are going badly it is very rare that you can change anything but yourself and your participation in the problem. How often are we able to rewrite our job description, makeover our coworkers or our children to make the situation better? Rarely! Almost never, in fact.
Most problems are only solved by a reworking of ourselves. So in any given situation we must ask ourselves:
How can I change?
We can usually change our attitude, our actions, or both. In fact, changing our actions often leads to a change in attitude, so it is often best to focus first on our behavior. In a marriage, this is a vital piece of information to have--especially in those "for worse" moments our vows talk about. You can change your attitude by changing your behavior.
Really? Yeah, really. Just try it some time.
In fact, try it for simply two weeks and see what happens. Pick some little something that your spouse has asked you repeatedly to do that you've not bothered to ever do. It might be to put the toilet paper around on the holder in the other direction. It could be to brush your teeth before coming to breakfast. It might be to actually stop and listen when he's talking instead of simply pretending to listen. For two weeks, do that thing, whatever that thing is.
But don't do it resentfully. Don't begrudge the toilet paper it's new position every time you have to grab it. Do the new deed generously with the intention to please your spouse. That's what I mean. Let yourself feel a bit of a thrill of generosity and good-deediness as you brush your teeth half an hour before your usual time. Pat yourself on the back for being a good spouse while you put down that iPhone and give your full attention to your beloved. Say to yourself, "See? I'm a good listener!" and then listen.
You'll see in that span of two short weeks that you can power your way through the behavior change. You can feel, rather quickly, that your heart will be softened a bit toward your spouse. But, in two weeks, you won't see any real changes or any real healing in any given area.
That sort of work takes time, effort, and much prayer. But this sort of change in so short a span of time should be enough simply to give you hope that in more time and with more effort things can really change. Knowing that you are the instrument and the object of the change that has to occur is truly empowering. Old habits have massive inertia and marriages can get ground up beneath them, but if two weeks can make even a small dent, just think what you and God can manage with a little more time and effort.
There's a lot of hope in the fact that if you don't change, nothing will.