A couple of years ago, my wife and I moved into a new home we purchased in Lake Nona. To our surprise, the previous homeowners had left a garage full of chemicals and toxic waste, like spray cans, old and new paint, gasoline cans, etc. The garbage truck wouldn’t take any of it when we attempted to set it out for them to pick up. They left us a note informing us what to do with it. The “toxic stuff” had to be separated and dealt with differently from the regular trash. Why was this necessary? Because it all contained harmful and dangerous toxins. Those toxins are not only harmful to us physically, but they also contaminate, pollute and destroy our environment.
When we hear the word “detox,” we usually associate it with our body. Webster’s Dictionary defines “detox” as the removal of toxic substances from a living organism.
In recent months, due to the coronavirus, couples and families have been under tremendous stress. From sudden changes we’ve had to make from our “normal” lives to the stresses of financial pressure and all the unknowns concerning the future, it has caused many couples and families to fall into unhealthy patterns and behaviors that may have become “toxic.”
Just like we had to remove the toxic, harmful and unhealthy things from our garage, we need to do the same things in our relationships. However, you can’t remove “toxic” behaviors and emotions unless you know what you’re looking for. Here are just a few harmful toxins that may be contaminating and polluting your marriage and family:
- Unforgiveness: When we focus on the flaws/imperfections of our spouse or let past hurts turn into harboring resentment, it can quickly become toxic and unhealthy. It’s like setting yourself on fire and hoping the other person dies from smoke inhalation.
- Anger: Hurt, frustration and feelings of insecurity can cause us to feel angry. Some deal with anger like a skunk. Anger is sprayed on everything and everyone, and it stinks up the whole house. Others are like turtles. They tuck it all under their shell and keep it in. Both responses can be harmful and toxic to a marriage.
- Worry: Worry doesn’t change the past, and it doesn’t control the future. It contaminates you in the now. Faith and fear have one thing in common. They both believe in a future that hasn’t happened yet. Rather than dwelling on the worst-case scenario, choose to believe the best is still in front of you, not behind you.
- Comparison: Remind yourself that the grass is NOT always greener on the other side of someone else’s Facebook or Instagram post of their “perfect” life. Comparison is the enemy of acceptance and contentment. It’s unfair to compare your life, your career or your marriage to someone else. It will quickly contaminate your thinking toward yourself, your spouse, and those around you if you do.
How To Detox Your Marriage
1. Get Rid of Toxic Words and Behaviors.
Have there been hurtful words, negative emotions, unhealthy behaviors, habits, or addictions that have contaminated your relationship? If so, it’s time to admit it and own up to taking responsibility for seeking forgiveness and restoring your relationship. You may even want to seek outside help. The goal is NOT to get rid of each other but to get rid of anything threatening the health and wellbeing of your marriage.
2. Redefine Your Vision for Your Marriage.
After nearly 30 years of my marriage with my wife, Michelle, and over 20 years of working with hundreds of couples, there is one thing I know to be true. People don’t drift toward their preferred destination. You have to be intentional. No matter where you find yourself right now in your marriage, you can always start with the end in mind. Remind each other of the positive attributes and characteristics that attracted you to each other in the first place. Even if your marriage got off to a rocky start from the very beginning, it’s probably because of the toxic or unhealthy choices or emotions that were never dealt with appropriately before you got married. That is why we must get rid of toxic and harmful habits and feelings first. Once you do that, take some time to verbally paint a picture of the “ideal” future together. Describe what a “10” would look like in your marriage and family relationships. Commit to shifting your perspective toward each other and building a better, brighter and healthier future. Start taking steps toward making that future become a reality now. Remember, happiness is not a destination. It’s a journey.
3. Create Safety and Security in Your Marriage.
Commit to creating an emotionally secure marriage where it feels like the safest place in the world, where a husband and wife are entirely free to open up and be known at the deepest and most intimate level without the fear of being blamed, criticized, judged or condemned. When this happens, your sense of trust and security in your marriage will allow you to feel safe knowing that your mate loves you and accepts you or who you truly are regardless of your imperfections, differences and mistakes. Sound like a fantasy? My challenge is to detox your marriage and turn your “what if” into “what is.”