Written by: Sharon May, Ph.D. and Alan Hart
Is your attitude sweet, sour, bitter or spiced? You might be pleasant during
everyday interactions, but what attitude or mood is right under the surface ready to
spill out when you are hungry, tired, slighted or upset? Your attitude not only
impacts what you say but how kind or snappy you say it, influencing the tone, mood
and atmosphere in your marriage relationship.
A person with a sweet attitude is someone who can stay centered and keep
emotionally balanced when difficulties come. These people don’t ignore or escape
difficulties. Rather, they face stressful situations with honesty, kindness, maturity
and courage. And when they are hurt or shaken, they pause to discover what’s
going on so they can constructively express their perspective and find solutions.
They don’t react to the wind of the moment and don’t need to resort to irritation,
anger or sarcasm to protect their hearts or get their point across.
A sour attitude is fueled by disappointment and frustration. Often causing a
person to say hurtful things as they shut down and sulk. A bitter attitude is fueled
by resentment, causing a person to react with a negative edge, harsh words or angry
A spiced attitude is one where you react according to your mood in the moment.
Not always aware of its impact on those around you. You wake up tired so you are
impatient and your attitude is snippy. If you are upset at work or at the kids you
become irritated and negative. A variety of things can set you off, a dropped spoon,
messed milk, a lost pen or the dishwasher packed incorrectly. Each day, your
spouse isn’t quiet sure what will change your mood, causing him/her to either react
equally as negative or to walk on eggshells around you.
The hurts that sour your attitude
What can impact on your attitude are the unresolved issues and hurts in your
marriage. The inability to agree on division of chores, the failed budget that has led
to debt, the decline of intimacy, the lack of unity concerning in-laws, the clash on
how to discipline kids, the fuzzy future goals or the unprocessed betrayal. These
unresolved issues create a pool of hurt and frustration that over time turns sour or
bitter. This rancid pool runs under the surface of your heart and when shaken by
your spouse, it spills out tainting your attitude and mood. Often causing you to view
your spouse negatively and react in protest.
Choose your attitude flavor
Although you might blame your spouse for your irritation or bad mood, your
attitude is your choice. As many a spouse has confessed during a Safe Haven
Intensive “I don’t like the person I have become, this negative attitude robs me of
being my best self.” You decide your tone of voice, facial expression (the size of
your smile), your outlook on life, your attitude when things go sideways and the
condition of your heart when hurt. Your spouse might shake you up by what they
say or do, but you get to choose your attitude and how you respond. You can’t
blame your spouse for the flavor of your attitude. You get to pick it. And it is not
your spouse’s fault for the way you react. It is your choice.
A helpful exercise
Divide a piece of paper in thirds, on the left side write your unresolved issues in your marriage. In the middle write the ways your sour or bitter attitude causes you to react. On the other side describe what would be your best attitude. Maybe your list includes things such as: positive, appreciative, loving, willing to face difficulties with hopefulness, kindness, honesty and courage. The key
is, don’t let your marriage hurts keep you stuck in the middle robbing you of your
To foster a happier, kinder, more joy-filled attitude, keep a list of all you are grateful
for in life. Choose to be the best version of yourself. Work to be someone who is
emotionally safe, trustworthy, who can face stress and difficulties in a healthy way… while not loosing a pleasant attitude.
What attitude spills out when shaken? How can you choose a sweeter attitude and
so be the best person you were created to be?
After all, you get to pick the flavor of your attitude.
“You must have the same attitude that Christ had.” Philippians 2:5
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever
is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there
is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8