Marriage: Win, Lose or Draw—Playing Your Relational Cards Right
You are at the table. Everyone is. The stakes are high. You’d bet your life to have a successful marriage and family life. In this game, you have a hand to play every day. Sometimes it feels like you’ve been dealt a bad hand. Often it can feel you are playing against your spouse and not as their partner. But make no mistake, the decisions you make determine whether you will win, lose or draw in your most important relationships.
Let’s define win, lose or draw in. WINNING is not coming out on top like a competition. You never win in marriage when focused on defeating your mate. You are partners in the game and you seek a win-win decision where it’s good for everyone in the family.
LOSING is when people get selfish and pit their own needs against their spouse’s. Some try to win by controlling or conquering the rest of the family. There’s no victory here. You lose really badly. Relationships deteriorate and distance grows.
Finally, the DRAW seems like a safe option at first. Yet, you can only go through the motions so long before you start losing interest in being partners. I see too many empty marriages where couples live together, “agree to disagree” or stay together for the kids but have given up addressing issues to improve the relationship. Draw turns into withdraw. It’s a slow death and a brutal game to be part of.
I want to help you take the gamble out of your marriage and family life.
Here are four award-winning tips to allow you play your hand for your family to win.
TIP#1 – LIVE OUT YOUR VALUES
We all say that our marriage and family is important but too often its lip service. We need to live out our values! Dr. Steven Stosny said, “Base your decisions on what you value not on how you feel.” Our feelings go all over the place. You can’t rely on your emotions to guide you. Anchor your life around what is critical to you. Make your decisions each day based on what you value. Set your schedule as if your marriage and family is a priority instead of an add-on. Put money and time into your most important relationships. Play your cards so that you win here.
TIP #2 – LOVE IN CONCENTRIC CIRCLES
I am amazed how easy it is for me to be the most gracious and kind person to someone else’s wife! But I see I am not alone. We want people to respect and appreciate us. But why the drop of care at home? One wife told me, “I just wish I would at least get the courtesy that my husband’s customers get.” Sometimes our life gets upside down. We care for the wrong people first! Love those closest to you the most. Start in your true inner circle and let it ripple out from there. Base your decisions on treating those closest to you the best and love in concentric circles.
TIP#3 – TAKE THE RIGHT STEPS
American psychologist, Dr. Hobart Mowrer said, “It is easier to act your way into the right feeling then to feel your way into the right action.” Waiting until you “feel” like doing what is right in your marriage may be a long time. But if you act on what know is truth – if you take the hard steps to reach out even if you don’t feel like it – right action will bring back the right feelings. Act in love to rekindle feelings of love. When you simply start treating your family right, forgiving, apologizing and making amends, you can’t believe how hearts soften. Base your decisions on doing what is right. It is rarely the easiest thing. Love isn’t easy.
TIP #4- LOOK IN THE MIRROR AT NIGHT
You can only be accountable for you, the choices you make, and the way you live. If you treat people like you want to be treated and start with those closest to you, you face yourself at night knowing you did your best. You walked today with integrity and played your hand well. You didn’t do what was easiest; you did what was right based on your values and your love for those closest to you. Relational wisdom says you should base your decisions on what will give you the greatest integrity at the end of the day. It is always best when you can look your Maker in the eye and get a ‘WELL DONE” at least for the day.
Marriage is the only game in town where either both win or both lose. Play your cards right to win in your most important relationships. You’ll never regret putting your marriage and family first.
© Dr. Dave Currie – September 2010