|Courtesy LDS Media Library|
I’ve thought about this for years. I’ve seen relationships fall apart. I’ve also seen them hold together. Here’s what I think is behind the erosion of a lot of relationships. Relaxing standards.
When you’re courting, your standards are high. Your behavior is the best it’s ever been. You hold your tongue. You’re polite and generous. You’re energetic and respectful.
Then you get married. You are playing house with a real spouse! You are Ken and Barbie. It’s an adventure. You are ridiculous together. Every day is a day of discovery.
Then things start to trend down. You are tired. You have school or work or both at the same time. Then children come—those little energy sucking cuties. Callings require hours away from home. You come home exhausted and grumped out. You lower your standards.
You don’t watch your words closely. Things fly out of your mouth and cut your spouse like a knife. You’re disrespectful and sometimes downright mean. Some days, you’re so tired, you ignore personal hygiene and you stink. You burp and have gas without apology. You let your wife open her own doors. You sleep longer than you should. You hide out in your room to read. You watch too much schmaltzy television and drink too much diet Coke. You have 47 reasons why you don’t exercise or eat right. You cherish bad habits and defend them. You lazily, unconsciously, and predictably lower your standards.
You sing a song that goes like this (my apologies to Veggie Tales):
We are the Mormons who don’t do anything,
We are grumpy and forget to pray,
And when you ask us to do anything,
We just tell you,
“Call the Relief Society President.”
And then you wonder, “What’s wrong with my wife?” Or you murmur, “My husband is a slob.” You complain to your friends about your spousal unit and circle the drain. Your relationships suffer or may feel doomed.
Wake up! Start with you. Yeah, you. Set your sites high again. Be a gentleman. Act like a lady. Turn off the electronic vampires. Open a car door for someone. Buy flowers. Say, “Excuse me.” Stop drinking 64-ounce sodas. Take a shower regularly. Keep your mouth closed and listen. If you need to burp, handle it as if you were at a job interview or sitting in sacrament meeting. Ask for forgiveness. Stop defending and justifying your actions and think about how you can make your spouse feel more loved and needed and appreciated. Start working out every other day. Clean up after yourself. Set time limits. Raise your standards. Do something better than you’ve been doing it.
If you want things to get better, you have to get better. —Kirk Duncan
Stop blaming and shaming and raging. Start acting on your best instincts. We all depend on grace—the grace of God and the grace of our better halves—to get through life. Show Those in heaven and those on earth that you appreciate them, that your are willing to change, that your are willing to set aside lazy habits and do things better. It will make a huge difference in your relationships.
You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be better.
Yes, you can expect unconditional love no matter your condition. But people might actually want to be with you if you are more kind, dignified, tasteful, respectful, disciplined, energetic, hopeful, and helpful.
Don’t ever say, “That’s just the way I am.” You are far better than that, far greater than you imagine. Your potential is infinite, your possibilities, endless. I’m serious.
If you want things to change, you have to change. Just take one step up.
Today is a great day to start.