Marcus Aurelius a Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher is quoted as saying, “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” Marcus was articulating an amazing mental tool that we can use to turn circumstance that we do not like into opportunities. We all will face events in our life and in our marriage that are not what we expected or “bargained for” and we can choose to see this reality as an obstacle to our life and our happiness or we can choose is to see this as an opportunity to grow. Marcus says that what stands in the way, the obstacle, will become the way to grow and move forward. In more modern day language Dr. Carol Dweck in her book Mindset, says “”How do you act when you feel depressed? Do you work harder at the things in your life or do you let them go? Next time you feel low, put yourself in a growth mindset-thinking about learning, challenge, confronting obstacles. Think about effort as a positive, constructive force, not as a big drag.”
If you or your spouse are experiencing a faith transition, if you or your spouse are experiencing any type of transition in your marriage or in your life, this may be viewed as an obstacle to your happiness. Remember it is a choice, you can chose to view it (we view it by the thoughts we choose to think about it) as a path to growth. “Our actions may be impeded” stated Marcus, “but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting.” What is our intentions and dispositions? Do we want to grow and learn and appreciate all that life will share with us?
In my marriage, my wife experienced a transition in her faith. This caused some huge transitions in my life and my expectations about our life together. As I thought of the wisdom shared by Dr. Dweck and emperor Aurelius I realized that I had a choice to make. I could chose to feel hopeless and upset, or I could chose to look for ways to use the circumstance to help me and my relationship grow. I could chose to act in a way and view it in a way that built on the reality I was living. I would like to share a few of the positive things that I have seen in my life because of living in a mixed faith marriage.
- I have used this as a chance to jump out of the rut I was in and prove to myself where my faith lies, ie a chance to be stronger.
- I now have a better understanding of what others (friends, family and ward members) have gone through- thus an increased ability to empathize.
- This has given me the opportunity for lots of introspection and better understanding of my own thoughts and emotions.
- I am becoming more independent and focused on my self-development.
- This experience has raised interesting discussions and conversations between my spouse and myself regarding all kinds for subjects, such as kindness and respect.
- I am rediscovering and rekindling small passions that bring me joy.
What other positive things have you seen or can you imagine could come about because of your circumstances you may perceive as obstacles. Fill your heart and mind with gratitude and think of how your obstacles can help determine your way.
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