From now through February the Power of Two Marriage Blog be celebrating Black History Month! I’m starting off with a series of 3 posts that use Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s quotes as tips for how to rekindle a relationship. As I’ve experienced from working with PO2, the skills we use to interact peacefully with our fellow citizens are completely applicable to happy marriages, and visa versa–you can use the skills you learn in online marriage counseling and marriage help books to better all of your relationships.
1. Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. ~MLK
Marriage is an act of faith. It means promising to trust as well as love another person through all of life’s ups and downs. In a previous guest post Lori Lowe explains how trusting your spouse, assuming the best in the situation, is a key element of how to rekindle a relationship. This starts with small things. Did he forget to take out the trash again? Instead of thinking “He’s so lazy!” or “He just expects me to do all the work!” avoid anger by first assuming the best case scenario: it was a simple mistake and he was distracted by all the other things he has to do. Maintaining a positive outlook on your marriage and spouse, coupled with asking questions when things are unclear, will help avoid conflicts and increase understanding.
This applies to bigger issues, too. Lori includes this anecdote of how one coupled learned how to rekindle a relationship after a big misunderstanding:
After the death of their infant son, John and Kathy Eubanks were more than devastated. The lactating mom, Kathy, was hormonal and extremely emotional. John soon returned to work where he saw little sympathy from coworkers, many of whom didn’t even acknowledge his loss.Nine months later, John returned home to Kathy crying again and said, “I don’t know how much more of this I can take.” He says he meant that it was very hard to see her suffering. However, Kathy interpreted his comment to mean, “If you don’t get happy, I will leave.” She was convinced divorce was imminent because of her assumption.
One day Kathy confronted her husband and asked, “Are you planning to divorce me?” (Remember that was her assumption due to his earlier statement.) John was taken by surprise and said, “No way.” It led to a breakthrough discussion where they shared their feelings and made a commitment to grieve together and to be unified in their suffering.
Remember, ask questions before you make assumptions, and always assume the best in your spouse. Starting from a point faith that he or she is on your side, loves you, and would never intentionally hurt you, is part of how to rekindle a relationship that is suffering from negativity. Here is a link to a fun flash game that will help you cool down your anger and see your spouse’s POV.
Next week: “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend,” or, How to Win an Argument…
A note about Dr. King:
Over the years MLK has become an American mythological figure and much of the complexity of his real life and personality have been lost. For example, many Americans today don’t know that Dr. King had a very troubled marriage plagued with infidelities. At the same time, he a was a remarkably well spoken and intelligent leader whose words cut to the core of how human beings should treat each other. We can easily apply some of his famous sayings to our marriages.