I met with Jim and his wife Veronica on the streets of Mombasa while they were on holiday here recently. Honestly speaking, I was surprised that they were together and to see the obvious love and affection that they shared. Why was I surprised? Well, three years ago, Jim was done with the marriage and complained about Veronica all the time, he even moved out of their home and was ready to begin the divorce process. I had tried to get Jim to have an appointment with me without success as he kept on avoiding me and made it really hard to get him even on phone. Many of his friends had also tried to get to him but without success. I was intrigued and wanted to know, “what changed in their marriage? What made Jim go back to his wife?’
I got the opportunity to ask Jim the questions as we met for coffee and his answers were simple, shocking yet so profound. After separating from his wife, Jim got himself a pet dog and it was from his dog that he observed and learned some valuable relationship lessons that brought the turn around in his marriage. I would like to share with you the lessons Jim learnt. Theses lessons are:
1. Forgive Quickly and Easily – Every time Jim chased his dog for doing something that annoyed him, it would scamper away with the tail in between its legs but in just a few moments, it would be back ready to lick his hands and be friends again. Each time the dog did this, Jim would always wonder why he did not do the same with his wife. What if he learnt to forgive easily and quickly without holding grudges? What if he did not allow what his wife did to affect how he responded to her? Too many times, Jim would hold grudges, refuse to forgive and just hold the hurt and keep hurting his wife. Any marriage where forgiveness is rare will eventually fizzle out and die. What if both husband and wife learnt to forgive easily and quickly? What if we decided that the relationship we have is more important than our ego? If you want to build a great marriage, you must learn to forgive quickly and easily.
2. Put action to your love – Your spouse should never wonder whether you were happy to see them. Regardless of the time, circumstances or challenges, Jim’s dog was always excited and ready to receive him. It barked, wagged it’s tail and came running to meet him. Jim loved the routine exciting reception he received until one day he asked himself, what if I was always excited to see Veronica? What if I always received her with a hug and did not allow what I was going through to affect how I responded to her? Jim knew that sometimes he even resented seeing his wife and hoped it had never shown. He determined when he gets another chance, things would change. Just like Jim, we need to stop giving our spouses the cold shoulder and get genuinely excited to see them and receive them joyfully. To be able to do this, we need to learn to focus on the good and not the negative and also train ourselves to love and look forward to their company.
3. Arguments are not beneficial – You Don’t Have to Argue With Your Spouse. Any time Jim had a bone to pick with his pet, it dropped it’s head and approached him with a puppy dog look. It was had to be mad at the dog at that point. Unlike his pet, even when he knew that he was in the wrong, Jim would pick up an argument with his wife rather than accept he was wrong. Veronica also would do the same and this resulted in never ending arguments in their home and they ended up hurting each other and destroying their relationship. An old man one time told be that no one ever wins when two people who love each other argue, they only loose. We therefore need to stop trying to win in arguments with our spouses and learn to admit our faults and ask for forgiveness.
4. Be the initiator – As much as Jim was the pet owner, he learnt from his observations of the “friendship” with his pet that the dog was the one in charge. It initiated their interactions most of the time, it did not sit and wait to see what Jim would do. When something was wrong, it would always reach out and comfort him. When he came home tired and wanting to just rest it would come and cuddle at his feet. Jim realized that he needed to be the initiator in his marriage, just like his pet, he determined to be there for Veronica. Being an initiator meant that he would be the one who would call her, apologize and seek to build his marriage. He would seek to understand his wife and seek to comfort her, encourage her and lead her to the place where their marriage would thrive. Many people destroy their relationships as they wait for the other party to initiate the conversation, the intimacy or even a reconciliation and it is in that waiting and refusing to take initiative that many relationships are doomed. We need to learn to initiate, start the conversation and be the first to do the right thing. The bible tells us to “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18. We are to do, not wait for the other person to style up or learn a lesson.
As I listened to Jim, I could tell he had learnt his lessons well and he in turn had taught his wife and the joy and transformation in their marriage was infectious. My challenge to you is, would you pick up this lessons and put them into practice? I pray that your relationship or marriage will thrive as you do so.
I would love to hear your thoughts, comments or even get more lessons from you, share them below in the comments.