Have you ever had a life-changing conversation with friends? A conversation that blindsided you to the point where years later that conversation remains seared in your memory? I can think of one.
Several years ago, I was having lunch with two good friends. During our conversation, Lori began sharing with us her plan to leave her husband. They had seven young children. It would be an understatement to say that I was surprised. We knew her husband. That fact only made her announcement more unbelievable. The second “whammy” came with Beth’s response.
She looked Lori squarely in the eyes and said, “For years I had been planning on leaving Greg as well. I mentally documented every selfish, inconsiderate thing he had ever done. And believe me, I had enough stored up to justify a divorce. I promised myself that the day my youngest left home, I would leave too.” Both Lori and I stared at her in disbelief.
“But you’re still married. And your youngest left two years ago.”
“I know. That’s why I’m sharing this. Greg never knew how I felt. He had no idea so we just kept going through the motions of being a happily married couple. Life has a way of mellowing all of us. Was it Greg who mellowed and became a more attentive husband, or was it I who grew up and became a more tolerant wife? I have no idea, but putting off my decision and my announcement to leave gave us both enough time to mature and learn to appreciate and need one another.
Shortly after this conversation with Lori and Beth, I was reading a religious publication on strengthening marriage. I would like to share parts of it simply because the advise will be useful to share with friends or family, if not now, in the future.
The article told the story of a troubled marriage. The wife had fallen out of love with her husband. She admitted that his long hours at work and on the golf course were partially her fault.
She realized she had two options: to divorce or to stay in a miserable marriage. Both options seemed wrong. Her third choice was to stay with Mark and fall in love again. She tried for weeks, but she only met with frustration.
She turned to God in prayer…and the words that came to her were, “fix yourself!” Humbled, she prayed for guidance. She realized that she had been cataloging only Mark’s faults, and she determined to mentally list ten positives about him each night before going to bed. Then she began listing ten good things for every negative thought she had. After weeks of this, things began to improve. First, she began to realize that Mark wasn’t the jerk she thought he was. Second, in the absence of all of her criticism, Mark started changing many of his bad habits. She began enjoying her time with him, and consequently, he started spending more time at home.
For months she had prayed every day asking to feel the love that Christ felt for Mark. Her prayers were answered. The love returned, and her marriage, though not perfect, is much better now. She continues to focus on the positive…and to pray.
In my faith, we are taught that when the Spirit of Christ is present in a relationship, it will improve. The Spirit of Christ has a way of purifying us. I have learned through experience that there are sure ways to invite the Savior to be a part of our lives and relationships: positive thoughts, positive words, positive actions, and selfless service.
My friend Beth personifies all of the above. Just like the woman in this story, her prayers drew down the powers of heaven and changed her and her husband, and saved her family.