Today I share a post I’ve been sitting on for the last three months. In July, a friend emailed me and asked the following question:
“What are the things we can do proactively, day in and day out, in the mundane, that build and strengthen our marriages and our relationships with our kids?”
My friend just finished the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth. He wanted to know how couples can demonstrate grit in their marriages.
What, you might ask, is grit? Well, I’m glad you asked!
Grit can be defined as the power of passion and perseverance. It’s a never give-up attitude. Grit is the Little Engine That Could who says, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can!” Grit realizes there are no shortcuts to excellence and one of the secrets is long-term tenacity. Grit knows that enthusiasm is common, but endurance is rare.
My friend asked a great question, knowing that many marriages lack grit. This is why so many marriages end in divorce. Note: I know this is not always the case, but the majority of the time the reason a marriage ends is because either one or both people in the marriage decide to give up or “lose” endurance.
He shared how we tend to be people who will do whatever it takes to excel in a hobby or career, but that we often coast in marriage. He goes on to say that we don’t prepare for something until we face it and we tend to be more reactive than proactive. Outside of the occasional Sunday sermon or occasional book or podcast, he was doing nothing to intentionally work on and grow his marriage.
In response to his great email and question, I decided to package up some thoughts on how you and I can proactively work on building a great marriage. I may address parenting at some other point in the future, but today I want to focus on building your marriage. Some parts may be a repeat from older posts on this site, but this will be the first time I’ve accumulated these thoughts in one post. Today I’ll share two ways/areas of marriage to develop grit, and in part two I’ll share three more areas.
5 Ways You and I Can Develop Marital Grit:
What are some ways you can learn and grow in your marriage?
- 1 Peter 3:7 says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
- I’ve shared about this in the past in discussing how to understand your spouse. What are some ways you can become a learner and study your spouse? How can you develop a greater interest in their personality, desires, quirks and preferences? This starts and ends with communication. If you don’t talk, you won’t learn. Make the effort and time to ask great questions and listen to your spouse.
- Discover your spouse’s Love Language.
- Turn off the TV and read a marriage book together. In this post, I share a page-full of my favorite marriage books. Pick a book and read.
- Go to a marriage conference together (or listen to the audio from Watermark’s UNCOMMON Marriage Conference from 2013).
- Find a marriage mentor you can learn from. Look for a couple who is one or two life stages ahead of you, buy them dinner and ask them questions. Learn from those who have gone before you.
- Learn from the good and avoid the bad. As you look back on your marriage, what are some ways you can grow/improve from your mistakes?
We don’t talk much about emotional intimacy in marriage, but in my opinion, it might be the most underrated aspect of marriage.
Genesis 2:24-25 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
- Let’s camp out for a moment on this idea that the man and woman were naked and not ashamed. We all live our lives with some degree of shame, whether it’s over the things we say, the way we act or the way we look. In addition, we all fight insecurities internally that no one else may see on the outside. Yet, in Genesis 2:25, we see the man and woman were together, naked and experienced no shame! In contrast, in Genesis 3 after the fall, they no longer experience this same emotional intimacy as they hide from God and blame each other.
- Ideally, the marriage relationship should be the safest relationship for safety and emotional intimacy. While on earth we will never attain Genesis 2 levels of emotional oneness. But, we can still pursue emotional intimacy in marriage.
- Above I referenced 1 Peter 3:7 in the ‘mental’ section. When we live with our spouse in an understanding way, it’s not just a mental exercise. It’s also emotional as we seek to get to know their personality, wants and desires. We ask questions, we engage them, and we seek to understand the heart of the person we love.
- Develop an emotional intimacy so that you can develop emotional grit in your marriage. The more you get to know the other person emotionally, the more grit you develop in your marriage.
In Part 2 of this short series, I’ll share three more ways you and your spouse can develop marital grit.
- On a scale of 1-10, with one being low and 10 being high, how gritty is your marriage? In other words, how hard do you work on your marriage proactively? What would your spouse say?
- What is one thing you can do to develop mental grit in your marriage? What book you can read together or what mentor can you learn from?
- What is one thing you can do to study your spouse so that you can grow in emotional grit?
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