Summary: 4 steps for turning a bad attitude into a good one (Material adapted from Les and Leslie Parrott's book, When Bad Things Happen to Good Marriages, chapter 4, One Bad Thing Every Good Marriage Can Improve, pgs. 69-80)


Les and Leslie Parrott- It was the best wedding reception we’ve ever attended except that it wasn’t a wedding reception. This needs some explanation. One week earlier the bride backed out. There was no catastrophe, no dark secrets revealed. She simply wanted to put off the wedding for a while to be sure she was doing the right thing. The groom agreed, reluctantly. And as they were calling the photographer, the musicians, and others to cancel the ceremony, they discovered it was too late to cancel the flowers or the orchestra. So the couple, along with the bride’s parents, made a move which may be among the craziest in all weddingdom. They had the reception anyway. Guests were notified ahead of time that the wedding was canceled, but the party wasn’t. The event was typical of any elegant wedding reception except the mother of the bride, who has a good sense of humor, ordered new napkins with the inscription, “Murphy’s Law Defied,” and the bash went off without any hitches. Some guests couldn’t contain their questioning about the mother’s message on the napkins. “Shouldn’t it say ‘Murphy’s Law Defined’?” some asked. Others found the inscription delightful, a celebration of making the best of a bad situation. The variations in opinion has to do with attitude. What some people saw as a definition of everything going wrong, others saw as a stance against it. Attitude can make a world of difference in how two people view the same thing, especially in marriage and their families. What one sees as troubling, the other may see as exciting- the only difference is attitude. Few things are more toxic to a marriage and a family as a bad attitude.


One wise man said, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude is more important than facts. Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill... {When circumstances turn for the worst,} the only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.”

Happy couples and happy families do not have a certain set of circumstances, they have a certain set of attitudes. It’s tempting to complain about our circumstances- or our spouse or family- when they aren’t what we want, but our complaining only makes matters worse. “Do everything without complaining or arguing,” Philippians 2:14, NIV. No one has ever heard a couple say, “We hit a real turning point in our relationship once we started complaining and pointing fingers at each other.” Our future as a couple, as a family, is determined, not by our complaining, but by our decision to rise above what we are tempted to complain about.

Take two couples who have the same set of circumstances in life and one couple is harmonious and happy while the other couple is full of division and difficulties. What is the difference? Attitude. If this sounds excessively optimistic, it’s because it is. Good attitudes open the double doors of marriage for optimism to do its work. Without optimism, even good couples consider their situations as hopeless and eventually give up.

Attitude determines what we are looking for, what we value. All of us have a filter through which we interpret life. We often discard and downplay those facts and experiences that do not fit our perception. Our perception, how we view any situation, is the result of our attitude. Once we have a particular mind set, we see everything and everybody in a certain way- either positively or negatively- even if our perception is inaccurate and our perception is never completely accurate. That’s why in marriage and in life, we so often find what we’re looking for.

At one time I had a block on my shoulder about marriage. Marriage is bad and so I would highlight the negative aspects of marriage. If someone would come up with some positive aspects of marriage, I would explain them away with my list of negative aspects. It’s our attitude that makes the difference. ““The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” Matthew 6:22, 23, NIV.

We all need to be optimists but how?

Thesis: 4 steps for turning a bad attitude into a good one

For instances:

1. Look for the positive

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.” Philippians 4:8, NIV.

In relationships that seems so simple but revolutionary. This involves trying on a new mind set, one that looks for good things about others and positive solutions to problems. As we have talked about, each of us sees whatever we have prepared our mind to see. This step, look for the positive, is vital to changing a bad attitude.

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