If your marriage is less than blissful, and you feel like giving up, I can tell you from personal experience: Marriages can be raised from the dead. My husband, Ron, and I had one of the worst marriages I’ve ever seen, but now, we really love each other—even like each other. You can too. Are you willing to begin anew?

You’re probably thinking, Why should I be the first to change? or How come I have to do all the work? The answer is simple: God will work with whoever is available and give that person the strength to change. Are you available?

You already know that you can’t change your mate, but you can change your own behavior. The word change indicates a transformation, which is a metamorphosis; the word metamorphosis begins with the two letters “m” and “e.” Change begins with me.

If you want a vibrant and loving marriage, make this verse your prayer: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

I can’t get no satisfaction

If either you or your spouse constantly hums the Rolling Stones’ tune, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” you might be in trouble. If you ignore each other’s needs, one or both of you will be more tempted to go elsewhere. But having unmet needs is no excuse for bad behavior, and going after satisfaction outside your marriage is always wrong. The Bible says—to both of you—be satisfied with the wife/husband of your youth. That indicates that we should be content with our mates. The best way to avoid the “Greener Grass Syndrome”—wishing someone else was your spouse—is to water your own lawn.

If our marriages are well-watered, the grass on our own side of the fence will be lush and soft and lovely. And if you’re both content and committed to your marriage, the Flirty Franks and Teasing Tinas at the office, gym, or grocery store won’t be as tempting.

Maybe you’re saying, “But, Nancy, you don’t know how selfish my husband/wife is.” You’re right, I don’t know your situation, but I’m assuming that you chose to marry that person, so they must have some wonderful qualities too.

Unless your spouse is abusing you or your children, you can choose to be satisfied in your marriage. Look for the best in your mate, not at his or her faults. The more you meet your spouse’s needs, the more he or she will want to meet yours. It doesn’t matter who plants the first seeds, because you’ll enjoy the harvest—together. It might be hard to start, but if you don’t, and your mate won’t, then who will? “And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).

Paying attention?

My husband, Ron, recently had a conversation with his friend Earl. Earl said, “For years, my feet have been killing me. I bought insole cushions for my shoes and even bought an expensive pair of arch supports, but nothing helped. So I finally went to a podiatrist.”

“What did he say?” Ron asked.

Earl said, “First, he X-rayed my feet and looked at the films. Then the doctor asked me, ‘What size shoe do you wear?’ I answered, ’11.’ Then the he said, ‘No wonder your feet hurt, you should wear a size 13!'”

Earl shook his head as he told Ron, “I’ve been buying size 11 shoes since high school. It never occurred to me to measure my feet to see if they’d grown.”

His shoes had been too small for years! His feet had changed, but he wasn’t paying attention.

Have you measured your marriage lately?

It’s easy to get complacent and just continue doing what we’ve always done. Since nothing ever stays the same, small changes can sneak up on us and cause some big problems.

Growing pains

If you’re struggling in your relationship and feel as if you’ve grown apart from your spouse, today can be the day of new beginnings. I know how lonely, discouraged, and exhausted you may feel, because I’ve felt that way.

I was in a marriage full of emptiness. I was the original desperate housewife, when 24 years ago, I had an affair and moved out of our house. Ron and I were both selfish, angry, and critical; but we aren’t anymore. Well … I’m still a little selfish, but mostly our lives are full of light and love—and yours can be too. We admitted our faults, asked for forgiveness, changed our behavior, and decided to love each other. Our feelings eventually caught up with our actions, and we slowly grew a lovely “green grass” marriage in own backyard.

We learned that fighting and blaming won’t work. Commanding and demanding can’t work.

Surrender works. If you surrender your heart to the Lord and ask Him to work in you and through you, He will accomplish more than you could ever do on your own.

Ron and I still don’t agree on all issues. But since we’ve reached a compromise on most of the major ones, the minor ones—like where to set the thermostat or which one of us is a better driver (me)—won’t break us. We’ve learned to work together as a team, and that is our prayer for you.

Adapted by permission from Avoiding The Greener Grass Syndrome: How to Grow Affair Proof Hedges Around Your Marriage. Copyright © 2004 by Nancy C. Anderson, Kregel Publications. All rights reserved.