What is one thing you can do to make your marriage better? How can you ensure success?
Stop using the word “try”.
If you find yourself saying “let’s try to make this work”, chances are it won’t.
Why? Because lurking behind the word try is a mindset and attitude that failure is acceptable. Whether you want to change your marriage or yourself, saying you’ll try is like giving yourself a pass if things go south.
Do you use the word try in your marriage?
- I’ll try to change…
- I’ll try harder…
- I’ll try to be better…
- I’ll try to stop…
Trying and failing allows you to fall back on the excuse, “well, at least I tried.” It gives the illusion of change without requiring real change.
I am guilty of speaking the try language.
When my husband asks me to stop interrupting, I say I will try harder. This usually leads to interrupting him five times in the next five minutes. When he asks why I can’t stop interrupting, I quip back, “I’m trying!” as though my intentions deserve an A for effort. But in reality, he still feels disrespected and I haven’t actually stopped doing what I know is hurting him.
Trying won’t produce real results.
I’ve learned that trying is the no man’s land between inaction and action. It’s the safe zone of indecision. Telling my spouse I’ll try to change means my goal is centered around effort, not results. As long as I give a descent effort (inconsistent at best), I can pat myself on the back.
Though I feel like I’m doing the work of change, trying won’t produce the results I want. Instead, it provides the option to avoid risk and the hard work required for real life-change.
After years of trying in marriage, the truth is I’m no better off and not much different. I still struggle with the same bad habits and unhealthy behaviors.
If I don’t like the reality and state of my relationship, I must forgo just “trying” and choose to do things differently.
Stop trying. Start committing.
Trying is our self-protection mantra when we are afraid of failure and commitment. The reason I don’t commit is because I’m afraid if I don’t follow through with what I promised, I’ll have to face my failure. And failure makes me uncomfortable.
But if I want to change myself and my marriage, I have to make a choice. If I decide I want to stop interrupting, I must commit to it. If I want my relationship to improve, I must take action.
To commit means “to pledge or bind [yourself] to a certain course”. Commitment requires you to make a decision and see it through regardless of adversity. It takes discipline and perseverance to stay committed when things get tough.
Commitment provides direction and clarity. It gives you a path forward. Once you decide what you want to change in your relationship, you can create strategic goals that will help you get there. Commitment actually generates motivation and movement toward your goal.
If you commit and fail, you can still learn from it and turn your failure into an advantage.
But what if I can’t do it?
Underneath all my trying and fear of failure is the belief that I am helpless and powerless. I shy away from commitment because I don’t believe I have the power to change.
But here’s the truth. The only thing in this world you actually have power over is YOU.
The Bible doesn’t instruct us to change others or control our circumstances. Instead, it is full of verses about self-control and self-discipline. We can change and choose to live differently.
Even better, God has given us supernatural power through His Spirit to overcome sin and become a new person. We are not powerless or helpless or a victim of circumstance. We have the power to choose a better way (Rom 8:1-2, 8:11-13).
Are you still fighting about the same issues? Is there little change in your relationship?
If you’re not experiencing real life change, perhaps it’s because you’re giving yourself a pass.
A great marriage isn’t something you try to make work. It’s a choice you commit to and the result of discipline and hard work. If we want to see growth in ourselves and our marriage, we must eliminate the word try from our speech. We must get clarity on what we want and commit to it. Then when adversity comes, we can stay the course and experience real life change.
*Need some resources on how to stop “trying”? Check out some of Michael Hyatt’s advice on this topic: