Arithmetic – Counting What Counts When Discouraged in Marriage And Linkup

Count the positive

I don’t know where you were when the solar eclipse occurred, but in my neck of the woods, we had an excellent view of it. Some said 99.5%! I feel as if the eclipse is a good way to illustrate my next “lesson” in my Back to School series—“Arithmetic – Counting What Counts.”

I think that’s because of the way “not counting” works in our lives.

So what am I suggesting that we should count?

Count the positive

[bctt tweet=”We should count the many blessings our spouses provide. #countwhatcounts” username=”BethSteffaniak”]

I’m sort of a glass-half-empty-kind-of-gal by nature. I notice the problematic details much more quickly than the promising or good details in any situation. It is only by intentionally taking a U-turn in my attitude that I can regain the proper perspective of my spouse and marriage that God desires.

This “glass-half-empty” attitude is very much like the moon coming in front of the sun. The good in my spouse and marriage are like the sun—being so much more important, encouraging and powerful than the bad in any given moment (that is, if I am not in an abusive situation).

But when I focus on the bad (or moon) in my spouse and marriage, it immediately eclipses the good that is in my mate. And it doesn’t wait decades or even hundreds of years, like the lunar eclipse does, to recur.

[bctt tweet=”A focus on the bad in my mate eclipses the good—darkening my attitude immediately! #eclipse” username=”BethSteffaniak”]

The apostle Paul was keenly aware of the temptation we face to look for the bad in any situation. I would say this temptation is felt even stronger in our marriages, since, quite frankly, living with another human being can be rather annoying at times! 😉

Here’s what the Apostle says we should do . .  .

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” ~Philippians 4:4-6

Nothing like setting the bar high, Apostle Paul! There’s no wiggle room in that verse to complain or even harbor a secret rumination over how disappointed we are in our mates.

I don’t know about you, but I am a work-in-progress here.

The good news is that I can testify to how effective being grateful and focusing on the positive is for my view of my husband. Each time I do this, I feel encouraged and more grateful for my guy, no matter how annoying he can be at times. (Me-oh-my-Miss-Molly! Inside joke!)

How to be intentional about this in marriage …

1. Pray daily for God to bless your spouse.

2. Pray daily for God to open your eyes to the good in your mate and marriage—then begin to look for and count those many good things you see.

3. Affirm your mate when you notice the good in his/her life.

Doing this at least once a day, but more if you’re inclined.

4. Point out to your mate the blessings you see and feel because of your marriage.

This can be a really tough assignment for those of you who are facing the “cold winds of marriage.” I’ve been there and know how hard it can be! But to remain idle in this is to head toward a frozen marriage, as well as icy feelings of love!

Whether you’re in a bad place in your marriage or simply want to improve on being more positive about your mate, I’d love to join forces with you by holding each other accountable in a 21-day “Look for the Good in My Spouse” challenge, starting Sunday Aug. 27, 2017. Hopefully this will be long enough to start a habit.

Either let me know in the comments that you’d like to be included in this challenge or email me at: and request to partner with me in this 21-day “Look for the Good in My Spouse” effort. I will email you each evening to see how you did and you can ask me daily how I did too. If you didn’t do well, no sweat. Just get back up on your “horse” and ride toward gratitude the next day! So, who’s with me? 

I hope you’ll join me next week when I unpack another extremely important lesson in this series—“The ABC’s of Forgiveness.”


What is one good thing your spouse has done for you and/or your marriage lately?


What gets in the way of you making this a daily practice in your marriage?


Be sure to scroll down below to comment! 

Here are some lovely linkups I join – Mondays @ Soul Survival,  Moments of HopeLiterary Musing MondaysTestimony TuesdayJennifer Dukes LeeWriter WednesdayCoffee and ConversationCoffee for Your HeartSitting Among FriendsFaith and FriendsFresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday

Let’s Get this ‘From Messes to Messages’ Linkup Started!
Add any links that are uplifting, helpful and encouraging to our spiritual lives, marriages and families! Be sure to add a link on your blog back to “From Messes to Messages” or Messy Marriage as well. For linkup guidelines/button, click here.

Messy Marriage


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32 responses to “Arithmetic – Counting What Counts When Discouraged in Marriage And Linkup”

  1. Beth, cute analogy! Norm Wright shared research in a seminar many ions ago that supports your point. What we focus on grows. If we focus on the good it grows. If we focus on the bad, it grows. My husband brings tons of good, but if I’m not careful I can let one small irritation eclipse that bright shining sun.


    1. Makes sense to me that it works that way, research or not! But I’ll have to check that research out, Debbie. Sounds fascinating! And yes, I’m right there with you–working tenaciously to keep the negativity in place but mostly trying to redirect my eyes to the good.


  2. Very true. The one thing I have learned is that people use the negative in each other for power and control or more to the point-the abuse of power and control. I hate going to functions with my mate and hearing her talk about my negatives to fit in with the others who talk negative about their mates. It is something that I refuse to do.
    Thanks for hosting and have a wonderful week.


    1. I’m glad you take the high road, Patrick. It’s never a good thing to feed on these negatives in the confines of our own minds, much less in conversations at parties. So sorry you’ve been treated this way. Thanks for adding your thoughts to our conversation, my friend.


  3. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Great post, Beth, and your transparency in using yourself as an example is courageous and admirable.

    My wife does great things every day; she puts up with the fact that I can, now, do so very little! She’s appreciative of the effort I put out to help her, even when it’s barely noticeable.

    I don’t have trouble making this a daily part of marriage. My days are dwindling, though I’ve lasted a lot longer than any of my doctors thought I would (“He’s STILL alive???”).

    One thing I have noticed is that, as a glass-half-full person, I can be really irritating when I downplay how I’m feeling. barb has said that she never wants to hear the words “It could be worse” ever again. She’s not negative, but she is pretty tightly wound; I’m so laid back that in the past people made jokes about seeing if I was still breathing.


    1. I agree with B. How in the world could it be worse?


      1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser Avatar
        Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

        Susan, there are times I wonder myself. But on the other hand, with a firm faith in the Lord and Jesus as my personal Saviour, it couldn’t be much better.


    2. I am, after all, the face of “messy marriage!” Lol! So transparency comes with the territory.

      I’m so glad to hear you brag about Barb. She really has put up with a lot considering the ravages of your disease. I cannot even imagine standing in her shoes. And I’m also glad she is appreciative of your help. She’d be crazy not to, since it must cause a lot of pain to offer to help her–no matter how small the help is.

      You keep on amazing those doctors, my friend! That’s my prayer for you!

      And I’m sure that one of the reasons you’ve survived as long as you have is because of your ability to roll with the punches. If that’s what’s keeping you from being bogged down by the discouraging moments of your day-to-day life, then I say keep on downplaying your feelings! Hugs and prayers!


  4. Bev @ Walking Well With God Avatar
    Bev @ Walking Well With God

    This is definitely divine timing. I’ve been up since three because of how my husband, in my mind, over reacts to the dog waking him up out of a dead sleep to have to go outside. I offered to take him out, but my husband grumbled and stomped down the stairs. Meanwhile, his reaction left me awake at 3 am. Silly, I know. Your post was definitely good timing for me to look at the cup as half full rather than half empty….thank you 🙂 Counting the blessings….
    Bev xx


    1. Yes, I bet, Bev! That would be hard to recover from, but he was good to take the dog out at such an ungodly hour–albeit with grumbling! ha! I’m sure he’s a great guy. We all have our moments when our best doesn’t show, but it takes a great spouse to persevere till that good starts to shine out from behind the bad. Hugs and prayers to you, my friend!


  5. Patricia A Krank Avatar
    Patricia A Krank

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the eclipse and how it relates to us spiritually too, especially in relation to the things that eclipse our focus on God. It was quite a phenomena and we were in totality here where I live for about 2 minutes. While neighbors were cheering for the eclipse I kept thinking about the Creator of it all.


    1. Yes, that would be another interesting metaphor to explore, Patti. I know that it’s easy to let things eclipse a prime focus on the Lord. So many were reminded of God’s amazing creation through the eclipse–another silver lining from this event! Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend!


  6. I’m loving all the applications clever people are finding for the eclipse. Yours reminds me of an Elisabeth Elliot quote that I’ve probably shared here before, but that’s what aging does to the brain (cyclical story syndrome):
    She said most brides would generously say that they appreciate at least 80% of their new husband’s traits. But then they get married and she spends the next 50 years focusing on the other 20%.
    I tend to be a half-empty kind of girl myself, so thanks for this encouragement to change my view of the world.


    1. That’s so funny, Michele! I love Elisabeth Elliot and she certainly nailed a truth that we all need to remember. Certainly it’s easier to focus on the negative, but once it moves down the track it’s like stopping a runaway train! Thanks for joining the conversation and adding a bit of Elliot wisdom to boot!


  7. My hubs does a myriad of good things for me every single day. I use to focus on the minor idiosyncracies (spelling?) but now I truly weigh issues. If I have a bone to pick? I make sure it’s a major one and worth the picking!!!


    1. I think you nailed that spelling, Susan! And I like your rule of thumb! We need to pick our battles and focus on the victories more than anything! Thanks for joining the conversation!


  8. What a good analogy! I knew there was one in there somewhere with the solar eclipse. 😉 And maybe we could add to that…if we look through the glasses of the Word of God we will see what we really need to see.


    1. Yes, it wasn’t something I planned but it certainly seemed to fit once I thought of it. I like what you’ve added, Kelly. God’s Word always brings greater clarity to any situation. Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend!


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  10. Beth, this post is fabulous. I absolutely love the way you connected the eclipse with marriage. Shared on FB and Twitter. I would love to be a part of the 21 day challenge too! I believe you have my email. Blessings to you, friend!


    1. Thank you, Sarah. You’re kind words encourage me. Thank you also for sharing! I’ll be sure to add you to my “blind copy” email list. It’s going to be a good exercise for me as well.


  11. Beth, what a neat analogy of the eclipse and marriage! This was a great post and very much puts our focus where it needs to be. Thank you! I’m really getting a lot out of your series on marriage.


    1. Thank you, Lesile. It really does illustrate the power of the negative, especially when the good is so much brighter and ultimately more powerful when we focus on it. I’m glad to hear you are. I appreciate you coming by to encourage me!


  12. Great analogy! You have such a wonderful way of using real life examples to encourage others in their marriages.

    I hope you had a good summer. I’ve been thinking of you and especially was hoping that She Speaks was an amazing experience.


    1. Thank you, Mary! I really appreciate your kind words. I’ve missed you! I know you’ve been busy with a move, so I hope you’re not overwhelmed by the change!

      I did have a great summer. I’ve thought of you too. I had a great time at She Speaks and got to meet some really sweet bloggers who do this linkup as well. It was so great to see and talk with them face-to-face.


  13. Hi Beth. I guess you went on a short break… I trust it went well. Thanks for sharing these truths with us. Negative perspectives and perceptions in marriage are deadly tools of the enemy that we must fight and conquer.
    Number 3 is something I definitely have to work on…
    Thanks again Beth and do have a super blessed day!


    1. Yes, I took about 8 weeks off from blogging to focus on family and other projects. But it’s been so good to be back. My break was just what I needed to feel refueled and reignited.

      I’m happy to be back in the swing of things and want to help couples who feel those cold winds of marriage blowing in. And yes, negative perspectives really are deadly schemes of the devil. In fact, I’ll be doing a month long series in October on spiritual warfare in marriage and, who knows, this might be something I’ll reflect back on! #3 is a weak one for me too, so I’m looking forward to this challenge as much as anyone else! 😉 Love to see you, my friend!


  14. Hi Beth! I agree—reminding ourselves of the things we love about our spouse is a key to blessing our marriages! Thank you for encouraging us to love our spouses well!


  15. I’m thinking about your solar eclipse analogy. In our area we had around 85% eclipse, I think. Viewed thru my welding shield, that meant at the peak there was just a thin crescent of the sun exposed, looking similar to the thin crescent of a new moon. However, with my welding shield off, there was a whole lot of daylight. The overall lighting was similar to a light cloud cover. So, even at 85% coverage, there was a whole lot of light. Going back to your analogy, even with a multitude of potential hurdles, we may still have a whole lot to be thankful for. 🙂 Have I mentioned that I love analogies? 😉


  16. I definitely had to learn to be an encourager. I tend to see the problems with any suggestion or issue. My husband told me once, at times having a conversation with me was like a skeet shoot. He said,”I launch them and you shoot them down.” Ouch!


  17. I am quite good nowadays at doing this — counting the good things about my wife — “in the moment”, when anger or resentment threatens to flare up. I am not good at doing it systematically. What gets in the way? My wife’s concerns and demands are with me most of the day. I suppose when I have quiet time or me time even prayer time, those demands go into the “sources of anxiety” section.


  18. […] Arithmetic – Counting What Counts When Discouraged in Marriage And Linkup […]


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