The Giving Marriage

by JAVIER & SHANNAN LABRADOR, The Marriage Flippers – 24/7 Marriage

“Slow down, be present!” my wife would say, in a loving yet somewhat worried tone, “You are going to burn out and drive me crazy.” She was not wrong. I have always been in a hurry, never taking the time to truly live in the moments that, if missed, slip past us, never to be experienced again. The first step of your child, the constant requests to be pushed on the swing or to play with them – side note, one day, they won’t ask you anymore, so get up and push that swing!

I needed to slow down, be present, and learn to live from a place of rest – not strive for it. I was about to enter a season where I would be forced to rest and put into practice something that deeply aligns with my faith: gratitude. In the season of life I found myself in, with the pace at which I was running, I had forgotten that gratitude is the antidote to busyness. I needed to return to having a heart of gratitude. Embracing gratitude and thankfulness not only puts the brakes on your out-of-control pace but also acts as the vibrant thread that weaves through, enhancing the beauty of our relationships and marriage in ways we might not always realize. Gratitude was the traffic signal that slowed me down, allowing me to savor the beauty of the season I was in and the journey I had been invited into. It has transformed who I am and deepened my relationship with my wife, and it can do the same for you.

As we step into early fall, there comes a moment when we pause between the chaos of summer and the hustle and bustle of the holidays. We take a breath, pause, and give thanks, expressing our gratitude for where we have been, where we are, and what may lie ahead. Breathe.

I invite you to examine where you are and ask yourself, “Where am I not being present? Am I living with a grateful heart? Am I expressing thankfulness and gratitude, especially in my marriage?” As you enter a season of thankfulness, remember:

Build a Foundation of Gratitude

Begin and end each day with gratitude. Be thankful in all circumstances, a principle that profoundly resonates in marriage. When we wake up every morning next to the person we love, gratitude should be the first emotion we embrace, not “Dear Lord, their breath!” In our lives and marriages, it’s not just about appreciating grand gestures but also finding joy in the everyday moments. Shift from complaining about what may not be going well or working to being grateful that you get to spend your life with the person you chose, regardless of the challenges you may face.

Embrace a Grateful Perspective

Being thankful in marriage is not about ignoring the challenges but viewing them through a lens of gratitude. Every trial becomes an opportunity for growth, a chance to strengthen the bond that unites us. In the face of disagreements, we can be grateful for the opportunity to better understand each other and learn the art of compromise and forgiveness. Being grateful will change how you communicate, pursue, and see your spouse.

Put Gratitude into Action

Expressing gratitude in our marriage isn’t just a passive act. It’s about small, daily, intentional actions that convey your thankfulness. Leave a note, send a sweet or affectionate text, and tell them how much you appreciate their love for you and your family.

Create a Gratitude Ripple

Being thankful in our lives and marriage doesn’t just impact my spouse and me. It creates a ripple effect, touching the lives of those around us. Our children, family, and friends witness the power of gratitude and learn from our example. Gratitude is contagious and spreads to all those connected to us.

My friends, I pray that as you pause for a moment this fall, you look around you and realize how blessed you are. Breathe. Have gratitude and express thankfulness. I believe you will experience, as I have, a peace that surpasses all understanding and the beauty of being present in the moment, grateful for your spouse, children, family, and friends.

And when life gets busy and challenging, remind yourself with these words to bring you back to a place of gratitude: “Where am I? I’m right here. What time is it? Right now. What do I have? This moment.”


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