(Here’s a link to the series introduction — a good place to start!)
Habit 1: Be Proactive is about taking responsibility for your life. You can’t keep blaming everything on your parents or grandparents. Proactive people recognize that they are “response-able.” They don’t blame genetics, circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. They know they choose their behavior. Reactive people, on the other hand, are often affected by their physical environment. They find external sources to blame for their behavior. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and performance, and they blame the weather.
And you can’t keep blaming your spouse, either!
Stephen Covey describes three Circles that can be used to understand and evaluate our circumstances:
- Circle of Concern: Everything you care about, everything that impacts your life.
- Circle of Influence: The subset of your Circle of Concern that you can affect with your decisions.
- Circle of Control: The subset of your Circle of Influence that you can directly control.
Here’s a diagram, for you visual thinkers.
When we’re reactive, we spend all our time and energy worrying about things we can’t control or even influence. When we’re proactive, we spend our time and influence on the inner circles, the things we can control (in our own life and body) and the things we can influence in our immediate community and family.
As an exercise with your spouse, it can be helpful to categorize your concerns using these circles. First, list everything you care about. Second, underline the concerns that you can influence. Third, put a star next to the things you can control. (Once you have your list, you can draw the three circles if you want!) Discussion questions: Do your lists match? What items are you spending the most time and energy on?
Here’s what Jesus says about our Circle of Concern:
John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
God is all-powerful, so nothing is out of his control! As believers, we can trust God with our Circle of Concern and have his peace, relying on his power and goodness to handle everything that concerns us.
God’s power isn’t just for our Circle of Concern, but for everything in our lives. Proverbs 3 is full of advice, guidance, and commands for making good decisions — it’s hard to pull out a few verses to quote, but these are some of my favorites:
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Action words for the proactive Christian: bind, write, trust, lean, acknowledge — along with promises of what God is proactively doing for you. God is active — he is always at work around us — and since we’re made in his image he expects us to be active also.
Here’s another passage from Proverbs about being proactive.
Go to the ant, O sluggard;
consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief,
officer, or ruler,
she prepares her bread in summer
and gathers her food in harvest.
How long will you lie there, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man.
The ant doesn’t need anyone to tell her what to do, and she doesn’t sit around waiting, pouting, or complaining about the seasons. The ant works within her Circle of Influence to gather what she needs when the circumstances are favorable.
It would be easy to go on and on — God’s commands in the Bible are always proactive. Even when you’re in a season of waiting, you are commanded to be in prayer, service, and study.
So then, what does it mean to be proactive in our sex life with our spouse? Here are some examples that might resonate with you.
Reactive thinking says:
- It’s not my fault, I can’t help how I feel
- Our sex life is disappointing because of our jobs/kids/health
- Why doesn’t he know what I want?
- Why doesn’t she initiate sex?
- After my day at work / with the kids, I just can’t do it
- If he would ABC, then maybe I would XYZ
Proactive thinking says:
- I choose my attitude and behavior, and I’m responsible for them — nothing can force them on me
- We can protect and nurture our sex life no matter the circumstances
- He can’t read my mind, so I’ll tell him what I want!
- She can’t read my mind, so I’ll initiate sex!
- I can influence my day to protect my energy and enthusiasm for my spouse
- I’ll do XYZ because I know he wants it, and then I’ll ask him to do ABC
You can’t choose your circumstances, but you can choose how you act in response. You can take responsibility for yourself. You can’t control your spouse, but by being proactive you can influence your spouse through service and communication. As you focus on what you can control and influence, your Circle of Influence will grow!
Being Proactive is a big idea, so maybe you’d like an actionable tip for where to start. Take a look at this post about The Five Love Languages and Sex and find your spouse’s primary love language, then do something for them that speaks to it. Afterwards, remind your spouse of your primary love language and point them at that post and this one. Rinse (if necessary) and repeat!
If this habit has made an impact in your life and marriage, leave a comment to tell us about it.