Don’t take your spouse for granted. Instead, find the genius in them. In this article you will discover how.
But first a story…
In January of 2007 Joshua Bell accepted a challenge. Josh is one of the world’s premier violinist.
He is world-renowned and commands somewhere in the neighborhood of a whopping $1,000 a minute to play the violin. To say he’s good as an understatement.
What was the challenge? A writer from the Washington Post [George Weingarten] challenged him to play for 45 minutes at a train station. This was a social experiment of sorts.
Weingarten had discussed a concept with leading psychologist and musicians. The bet was to see how many people would stop to appreciate the music of Joshua Bell.
The event had been described to him as a test of whether ordinary people would recognize genius if it seemed ‘out of place’ and out of the norm.
Bell accepted the challenge.
Here’s what most people said would happen:
“I don’t think that if he’s really good, he’s going to go unnoticed. He’d get a larger audience in Europe . . . but, okay, out of 1,000 people, my guess is there might be 35 or 40 who will recognize the quality for what it is. Maybe 75 to 100 will stop and spend some time listening.”Leonard Slatkin, music director of the National Symphony Orchestra
Here’s what actually happened:
Out of nearly 2,000 people that pass, only one truly stopped to give appreciation.
So, what’s the lesson from this? And how does this apply to marriage?
In This Article
Never Take Marriage For Granted
We often get so busy with life that we fail to recognize what is right in front of us.
I see it and hear it all the time in marriage relationships. Spouses feel neglected, overlooked, unappreciated. They spend their lives together, sleep in the same bed, eat at the same table, yet feel isolated and alone.
It’s a problem that rivets marriages. Is there a solution? If so, what?
The simple answer is to recognize the genius in your own marriage. It’s not an issue of disrespect vs respect. It’s an issue of presence vs being checked out.
How to Recognize the ‘Genius’ in Your Marriage
If you’ve taken your spouse for granted, you need to shift gears and change your focus. The reason we take things for granted is we stop noticing the value in them. We need to shift our focus so we can see the beauty – the genius – in our spouse.
Here are 5 practical ways to do this:
1. Slow Down
Americans love the Fastlane. Fast cars. Fast boats. Fast lives.
You could say we are all adrenalin junkies to a degree. Nothing wrong with loving fast. Except when it comes to the general speed of life. Too often we move so fast through life we fail to see the beauty it offers.
We seem to always be looking for the next event which causes us to miss what is right in front of our eyes.Too often we move so fast through life we fail to see the beauty it offers. We seem to always be looking for the next event which causes us to miss what is right in front of our eyes. Click To Tweet
This is especially true in relationships.
I know men who spend their work week so busy they barely speak to their children. Then they spend their weekends perfecting their hobbies or engaged in sports at a non-stop pace. So busy they forfeit any meaningful relationship with their family.
They do this week after week, month after month. Only to regret the choices they made.
It’s interesting that only one woman recognized Joshua Bell during his 45 minute musical set at the train station.
I’m sure others appreciated the music, but no really stopped to soak it in. Why? Busy. Too busy to recognize the beauty of what was in front of them.
Do you do this with your spouse? Do you get so busy you fail to remember the beauty and joy they bring to your life?
Don’t let this be the story of your marriage.
I’ve said it before but it bares repeating: Most people spell love T.I.M.E.
Slow down and take time to enjoy your relationships.
2. Remember What Matters Most
Is it work? Play? Stuff?
The beauty is you get to decide what matters most to you. Only take heed that you don’t spend your life’s currency on the wrong things.
Reminds me of what Stephen Covey said:
“When you get to the top of the ladder you may find it is propped against the wrong wall.”
“If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”― Stephen R. Covey
Regardless of how you state it, the point is clear: Make sure you know what you want, and you spend your life pursuing the right things. You might just get what you want, but end up not wanting what you get.
If you start the journey in the wrong direction, you will never arrive at the right destination.Make sure you know what you want, and you spend your life pursuing the right things. You might just get what you want, but end up not wanting what you get. Click To Tweet
Know what matters most. Your marriage and family should be at the top of the list.
3. Verbalize Your Appreciation.
Joshua Bell stated about his playing at the train station:
“It was a strange feeling, that people were actually, ah . . .”
The word doesn’t come easily.
“. . . ignoring me.”
Bell is laughing. It’s at himself.
“At a music hall, I’ll get upset if someone coughs or if someone’s cellphone goes off. But here, my expectations quickly diminished. I started to appreciate any acknowledgment, even a slight glance up. I was oddly grateful when someone threw in a dollar instead of change.”
A man who makes $1000 a minute felt unappreciated. So when one woman stopped to thank him, it mattered.
Verbalizing our appreciation adds value to our spouse. When we take the time to let them know they matter, it increases their sense of value.Verbalizing our appreciation adds value to our spouse. When we take the time to let them know they matter, it increases their sense of value. Click To Tweet
4. Reflect on what is good
It’s easy to focus on the negative things of life. We tend to gravitate toward the least common denominator.
When something bad happens it gains our attention and captures our focus. By doing this we often overlook good things because our mind is filled with bad things.
In their book Happiness is a Choice, Dr’s Frank Minirth and Paul Meier point out, as the title suggests, happiness really is a choice. It’s a matter of perspective. Sure there are varying factors, but it boils down to a choice of how you will view your world. (check price on this book here).
It is seldom truly based on the events that happened to us, but our response and reaction to those events. It’s a mind game of sorts.
Our mental perspective determines our emotional response.
In other words, wrong thinking always produces wrong feelings. If you think negative you will feel negative.
The way to combat this is to choose to focus on the good.Wrong thinking always produces wrong feelings. If you think negative you will feel negative.The way to combat this is to choose to focus on the good. Click To Tweet
Here are a few practical ways to do this:
1) Keep a gratitude journal.
There’s nothing like writing down what you are grateful for to cement them into your psyche.
2) Tell your spouse something positive you like about them everyday.
Everyone desires to be appreciated and praised. If we make that a priority our entire perspective changes in our relationship.
3) Detox your brain from negativity.
One way to do this is turn off the news. I’m not suggesting we should be ignorant and uneducated about world events.
I am saying that if you limit your intake of the negative news you will feel better and your perspective will change.
5. Seek to add value
I read a story about a man who asked his wife for a divorce. He wasn’t happy in their relationship and he wanted out.
She agreed to sign papers and give him a divorce under one condition. For one month she asked him to hug her, kiss her, and carry her to bed every night.
At the end of the month he informed her that he had changed his mind. He no longer wanted a divorce. The motto of the story, of course, is when we add value to others our heart changes as well.
The more good, positive, and loving you act, the more good, positive, and loving you want to act. It’s a universal principle of life. Sowing and reaping. Sow good, reap good. Sow negative, reap negative.
I think we all understand that truth. But we often fail to realize it not only operates in the extremes of good vs bad. It operates at every level. If you sow average, you will reap average. If you give mediocre care, you will reap (and create) mediocre care.
Make sense? Good!
The key is to practice paying attention. It takes practice but it really shouldn’t be that hard. We normally pay attention to the things that we desire and like. So it should stand a reason that we pay attention to our relationships. Especially our marriage.
Develop a habit of paying attention to the needs, desires, and aspirations of your spouse. It might help to ask yourself some basic questions:
- What do they enjoy doing?
- How do they like to spend their time?
- What really matters the them?
- What do they consistently talk about?
- What do they tend to ask you on a regular basis?
Once you know the answers to these questions, you can develop a game plan to meet those needs. That’s what paying attention looks like.
Do this and you move your relationship forward.
We mentioned the book by Frank Minirth and Paul Meier, Happiness is a Choice. This is a classic. We consider it a must read for those who want to change their perspective and understand the real nature of happiness.
Also check out these Healthy Marriage resources:
The Healthy Marriage Quiz
If you want specific help for your marriage, or you want to know your healthy marriage score, take the marriage quiz. You’ll get immediate access with suggestions on how to improve your relationship.
The Healthy Marriage Toolkit
Books, Courses, Programs and Tools designed to help you create the marriage of your dreams.
Healthy Marriage Courses
Our courses will help you build a strong marriage. Each course is designed to meet a specific relationship need.
If you are having serious marriage struggles, we recommend starting with ‘Save the Marriage System‘ by Lee Baucom.