God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
Every marriage can be improved, no matter the current state. Some of us are near wedded-nirvana while others are considering divorce.
Whatever your situation, the power to make change lies in your hands and the serenity prayer is a good reminder of how to keep perspective.
Let’s break it down and see how it applies:
First of all, this is a prayer. The term ‘god’ has come to mean any ‘higher power’, but I’m specifically referring to my Christian God, the One True God, God the Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth.
1- Allow God into your marriage. If you don’t know God, get to know Him. This post on Restoring your faith when you’re in doubt might be a good place to start.
2- Pray to God. Thank Him for the blessings you have in your marriage and ask for help to make improvements where you know they’re needed.
3- Pray with your spouse. Have each spouse pick an aspect of your marriage that needs improvement and pray for it together – just one or two sentences will do. Make this type of prayer a regular habit, for example, weekly or even daily.
What are the things you cannot change?
There’s no going back. Did your spouse wrong you? Were you a crappy spouse? Did you make poor financial choices? Did you rush into marriage?
No matter. You are where you are today. If you cannot accept the sins of the past, they’ll drive wedges into your marriage.
The serenity to accept the painful aspects of your history means you put them to bed. You stop talking about them. You stop bringing them up in arguments. Finally, you’ll stop thinking about them.
You cannot move forward while you’re still stuck in the past.
2- Your spouse
You cannot change your spouse. You cannot change your spouse. Let me remind you again. You cannot change your spouse.
It can be hard to accept this, and I attest to that. But remind yourself that no one’s perfect, that we’ll always have to deal with differences in personality, differences in priorities, and differences in likes and dislikes.
You married your spouse as he or she was. If you married a porcupine, don’t expect a cuddle partner, but be grateful you have an amazing protector. If you married a work-horse, don’t expect a spouse who’s home for dinner, but be grateful for the nice lifestyle it affords. In other words, your spouse has attributes that you love and others you don’t love so much.
But if you loved your spouse enough to say “I Do” then the things you loved outweighed the things that drive you bonkers.
Remind yourself of those things you love.
What can you change?
You can change you. You can change your reactions to your spouse. You can change your mindset about your marriage and your spouse. You can change whether you see the good in your spouse or only the things that irritate you.
Your spouse may very well not change, although the changes you make may motivate your spouse to change, too.
Change is hard. Breaking established patterns is very hard. Giving up the way you’ve always done it can be scary.
Your courage to do it even though it’s hard, even though it’s scary, and even though it makes you vulnerable, can open the door to the unity, peace, and contentment in your marriage that you’ve always desired.
Each of us have a choice to make when we choose to take vows. One choice is to bring our best self to the marriage and work to improve ourselves for the betterment of our spouse and family.
But when things are getting off track, we need to set reasonable limits and expectations. There’s no room for abuse in any relationship, let alone a marriage. Being submissive doesn’t mean being a doormat. Love doesn’t mean tolerating abuse. Sometimes relationships are irreparable – at least until one spouse undergoes serious behavioral change.
You have the wisdom to know what a good marriage is and you either choose to improve your actions and reactions or you’re choosing to stay stagnant.
Apply the Serenity Prayer to your marriage. Pray it together. Use it as a tool to help you both work toward a better marriage. Be open and honest. Improving your communication opens the door to improving your marriage.
If you’re looking for a good book about creating a God-centered marriage, The Eden Concept: Marriage God’s Way may interest you. (Note: the book is based on the biblical marriage of Adam and Eve, and thus, is written for husband and wife couples only.) You can see my full review HERE:
Do you include God in your marriage? Do you and your spouse pray together? Tell me where God fits into your marriage. Fill up my comments with your insights!