3 Thoughts About Your Marital Diet

Ever had one of those moments where, you know you’ve heard something before, but this time, it really stuck?

“You can’t out train a bad diet.”

A week ago, I was driving to visit someone in the church and listening to a podcast from a pastor I admire. At this point, I can’t remember what he was preaching about because that statement caught me by the soul and sent me down “the rabbit hole.”

Physically, the statement makes perfect sense. I’m a competitive runner (mostly competitive with myself). I work out and have personal goals to meet. But I often find myself allowing things I know are not healthy and are contrary to my goals. For example, if I eat a Sweetwater’s donut, I’ll tell myself, “I’ll have to run an extra mile now.” OR…”I’ll run an extra mile so that I can eat a donut later.

Sound silly doesn’t it? Probably because you’ve said something similar too haven’t you? At one point, I was allowing a plethora of junk food because I switched to diet pop (SMH). We think we can do something healthy while entertaining something unhealthy and come out even on the other side. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not necessarily anti-donut AND this blog isn’t about diet and exercise (Click here for my own testimony about the subject). But I think the idea and metaphor goes far deeper.

I wonder if some of our marital frustrations have come, not from the good things we’re doing, but from the junk we’re feeding on. THEN we come back frustrated that the good things are not working. I’ve watched people quit running and working out because of this. Unfortunately, I’ve watched people quit on their marriage because of it. You are looking for the results in the “marital mirror” and, because you can’t see them, you’re willing to move on.

Switch your diet.
The more I work on my own marriage, I’ve realized that my heart needs to be changed before I implement an action. And what I allow into my heart becomes the catalyst of that change. I need a healthy diet mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

What are the heart “inputs” you feed off of? Where do you use to feed and develop expectations? Are your “inputs” feeding you hope or increasing your frustrations? Here’s some “inputs” to monitor:

  • Look at your circle of friends. Are they feeding into your frustrations or are they encouraging you and your marriage to get healthy?
  • Look at your social media intake. Anyone can put something out there and find people to agree with your frustrations. Frustrated people seek out other frustrated people and they feed off of each other.
  • Look at what you are watching/listening to. I’m not the type of person to look for a demon under every rock, but I do believe that what we watch and/or what we listen to influences us.
  • Look at what you are obsessing upon. I’m an internal processor that will ponder upon a scenario or situation. And you tend out act out of what you fixate upon.
  • Look at the people you see as mentors. I had to make a decision a number of years ago that I had to find a new mentor as, the one I had, was nowhere near what I was wanting in an example to follow.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8

They say that great abs are developed in the kitchen. I say that a great marriage is developed from a heart of hope and expectation. Anne and I have found that hope in Jesus. And that hope has been both a discovery and a journey.  Which leads me to…

Give it time.
When I first started running, I remember run being frustrated at not seeing massive results quickly. It’s part of the culture we live in here in America. If a television show doesn’t quickly capture attention after 4 episodes, it’s cancelled. If you are searching for information on a website and, in the first 5 seconds, you can’t find what you’re looking for, you’ll move on. We have an addiction to the “immediate.” And marriage doesn’t work that way.

It’s ongoing challenge and change. It’s serving and giving. You may not see the results but they’re happening. DON’T GIVE UP. Muscle develops inside before you’ll see it on the outside. The immediate results you are wanting are “quick fixes”; the results you need are long term.

What I experienced was this: You can’t work away 20 years of terrible eating in 1 month.  Give it time and your efforts will be rewarded.

Don’t cash it in because of a bad day.
This was (and still is) one of my toughest bad habits. I’d eat crap on Thursday and say to myself, “I broke and ate a bunch of junk…Might as well just “cash it in” for the weekend. I’ll restart on Monday.” Notice, it was THURSDAY. If I was really honest, I allowed one moment to claim 3 more days than the moment should have allowed.

My internal responses have done just that to my own marriage. One bad moment claimed more than it should have. It wasn’t the moment’s fault. Moments happen. As it’s so often been said, I always can’t control what happens to me but I can control how I respond. I’d love to say that over the past 19+ years I’ve responded well. But, more often that not, I’ve “cashed it in” for 3-4 days and allowed something small to grow to immense proportion.

I love Galatians 6:9. Even though its context isn’t marriage, there is a principle that still applies here,

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good…

Regardless of what you’re doing, your marital diet decides so much. Find what you are feeding on (or off of).  Doing the right thing is just a 30% of what needs to be accomplished. 70% is the marital diet you’re consuming. Believing, hoping, loving, forgiving, encouraging, and understanding does more than you’ll ever realize. But those will never develop of you don’t look at what you “feed off of.”

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed hope.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Check out the book of my blogs I released this year! Click on the image below!!

About the author : David Barringer

David Barringer

My name is Dave… …Husband to my best friend, Anne …Dad to Cammi and Ethan ..author of "Mosaic Marriage" …Lead Pastor @kalamazoofirst My passions: Jesus, Anne, my kids, and football. Anne’s passions: Jesus, me, our kids, and anything but football. That’s as simple as it gets.

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