4 Ways to See the Big Picture in your Marriage


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Have you ever been distracted by something really small? For example, have you ever tried to watch a television where several of the pixels were missing? If you are anything like me, you were probably too focused on those few areas of the screen that were black and missed out on most of the show.

One of my favorite television shows is Big Bang Theory. Judge if you like, but as a semi-geeky person who bore two children who grew up to be semi-geeky people, I find a lot in that show I relate to.

One episode from season four called “The Toast Derivation” has Sheldon distressed over the missing pixels in Raj’s television. Here’s the script from that part.

Sheldon: Oh, dear!

Leonard: What?

Sheldon: Raj’s television. I just realized we’re about to spend an evening watching a plasma screen with a cluster of dead pixels in the upper left-hand corner.

Leonard: So don’t watch TV. Read a book.

Sheldon: And be a social pariah? Oh, you know that’s not my style.

Leonard: Ugh!

Sheldon: The audible sigh is a show of exasperation, right?

Leonard: Right.

Sheldon: Is it about me or the dead pixels?

During the rest of the scene, Sheldon remains fixated on those pixels, even reminding everyone of their presence by saying, “Oh, look, it’s Harry Potter and 98% of The Sorcerer’s Stone.”

Sometimes the missing pixel becomes a problem in our marriages too. We get too focused on the small parts that bother us and don’t spend enough time focusing on the whole picture.

No one wants to look back at their marriage some day and think about everything they missed out on. You want to have a marriage that was worth celebrating despite your partner’s flaws.

There are several things you can do to try and turn your focus away from what is missing in your marriage and toward the things that make up the beautiful picture.

#1 Find your Why

Consider this sentence. What would go in the blank in your marriage?

Our marriage exists for the purpose of __________.

When you focus on the “why” your marriage exists, you will be able to step back and look objectively at it. Are the “missing pixels” affecting that purpose? If so, then they are worth discussion. If not, it may be time just to set those issues aside.

Here are a few possible examples of a marriage’s “whys” to fill in that blank.

  • enjoying the closest possible intimacy with another human being.
  • fulfilling your God-given destinies.
  • showing the world an accurate portrayal of Christ and His Church.

#2 Get a Vision

Take some time and take the focus away from who you are as a couple right now, and think about what your vision for your future is. Churches, businesses, nonprofits and other types of organizations all have a vision of the future they are working toward. Why should marriages be without one?

The Bible explains what happens when there is no vision, no goal, or no purpose for your lives.

Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law. Proverbs 29:18 NASB

Not having a concept of where you are going together leaves both of you wandering through the marriage, going in any direction that seems right to you. Unfortunately, that often leads to going in opposite directions. Couples fight because they hold different visions for the marriage.

Your vision becomes a target that the two of you aim for whenever there is conflict or decisions to be made in your marriage. It gets you on the same page. When you both keep the vision in front of you and work toward it, your marriage will be happier.

Go away together. Discuss the idea, and pray about it. Then bring it back to the real world and put your vision into action.

#3 See the significance

Everything you do in a marriage builds the big picture, including all the little things. You can try to keep the big picture in front of your spiritual eyes by remembering to do the seemingly insignificant things as often as possible.

As often as possible, you should remind your spouse that you are thinking about them and care about them. These reminders can be through text messages, phone calls, making their favorite food, or doing the dishes when they have piled up.

Like the individual pixels on your television, it’s the small things (good or bad) that create the big picture of your marriage. Try to create as many high-quality pixels for that big picture to minimize the effect of the bad ones.

#4 Create a legacy

One of the greatest things you can do for your children is to create and live a purposeful, Christ-centered marriage. Children learn from what they see, and when they see a stable, loving marriage, it sets their expectations for their own marriages later on. What picture do your children see when they look at you? Is it what you want them to have in their own lives?

Your marriage continues even after the children grow up and move out. You still have a chance to leave legacies even in new seasons of life. What are you and your spouse passionate about? What can you do to affect the lives of other people?

My husband and I are passionate about helping people grow in their relationships with each other and with God. Since our children are grown and mostly out of the house, we have shifted focus from raising a family to what we see as part of our big picture.

The causes you believe in are also part of the big picture of your marriage. Don’t get sidetracked by small things you wish were different in light of what you can accomplish for God and people who may be hurting.

So don’t spend a lot of time focusing on those missing pixels from the big picture of your marriage. Instead, step back, take a good long look, and then get working to clarify and brighten the parts of your marriage that contribute the most to the big picture. Ignore the tiny flaws that try to draw attention away from it.

If you are working at fixing your marriage alone, looking at the big picture is part of the process. There’s a whole chapter about the big picture in marriage in the book It Takes One to Tango: How I Rescued My Marriage with (Almost) No Help from My Spouse―and How You Can, Too by Winifred M. Reilly.

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