My husband and I recently moved. While the house was new to us, the task of blending our separate tastes and treasures was a familiar practice. As we've done before, we carefully added each item, transforming the emptiness into the fullness we know to be home.
But the secret to keeping two lives beautifully blended doesn't rest on our ability to merge personal items or personalities. Rather, it comes from a heart of thankfulness — even for our differences.
True thankfulness is more than polite words and good manners. And it's more than an attempt to muster positive feelings. A genuine spirit of thankfulness flows deep from the heart and provides a steady stream with which I can continuously refresh my marriage.
In order to grow in thankfulness, I need to first see it as a response to receiving a gift. Thankfulness doesn't precede; it follows. Every day that I spend with my husband is an opportunity to be thankful and to recognize the ways he blesses me. I make it a point to be specific in naming these gifts: One day, I appreciate his love for God's Word and his love for people. Another, I admire his strength, honesty and level-headedness. After a dinner, I'm thankful for his grocery store savvy and his aptitude for cooking. And sometimes, I'm even grateful for our struggles and for the way he's challenged me to grow. The more specifics that I recognize, the more I'm able to be truly grateful for the gift of my spouse.
Responding with thankfulness
After learning to fully recognize the gift of my spouse, I can start responding to it. This heartfelt response strengthens our connection.
I do this by verbalizing my observations to my husband: I mention the gifts I've been given that day and what they mean to me. I dwell on the joy he has given me through his actions, words and personality. I make this intentional response a daily practice because I want no gift to go unmentioned. It might be a casual reference to how a late-night errand he ran on my behalf helped me feel secure and comfortable. Or it might be telling him that I love how he cares about me.
When I respond with thankfulness, I get to pour out the gratitude that's shaping my heart, and I'm able to see the bonds between us grow stronger.
Acknowledging the Giver
The goal of thankfulness is to connect with a giver. It is not enough to receive gifts and express my gratitude; I must seek the source.
When it comes to my marriage, my gratitude is ultimately directed to God. Marriage is His gift, His reminder of how He is drawing my husband and me into a relationship with himself. He created marriage, and He is the source of its goodness.
As I take time to connect with the Giver in prayer, I honor Him by cherishing His gifts. Through these prayers, I'm drawn closer to the Lord. Indeed, His gifts given to me through my husband are daily reminders of my connection to Him.
Choosing to grow in a spirit of thankfulness leads to the most beautiful part of all: As my life and heart are transformed, my marriage glorifies God. And the joy of seeing God shine through my marriage is worth the effort of it all.
~ Learn more about thankfulness in Part 1 and Part 2 of a
broadcast on cultivating gratitude in your family. ~
Copyright © 2010 by Janine Petry. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
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