• Darrell & Robin MacLearn

The Mirror Workout

Strength Training

Relational skills and abilities like conflict resolution and communication are the muscles that keep your marriage strong. They are the skill sets that when developed will strengthen your marriage.

No one is perfect and everyone has the opportunity to point a finger and be right.  Too often that is our goal — pointing fingers and being right. The goal of this workout, and its power, is found in taking an honest look in the mirror.  It may be true that the bulk of issues in your relationship are owned by your spouse but the truth is in any relationship no one is perfect.  In fact, oftentimes when our spouse does something “wrong” our response is “criticism,” “anger,” “stonewalling,” “yelling,” etc.  His/her bad behavior is not a license for our bad behavior.  Bad behavior is simply that…bad behavior.  We can’t control or change someone else.  So when we look in the mirror and identify our own issues that is where our power is found. Workout Summary

  1. Make a list of desired characteristics in a partner

  2. Look in the mirror and with honest humility rate yourself in those same areas

  3. On your list mark the areas where you are weak

  4. Make a “decide” (see details below)

  5. If possible, share your list with your partner without any accusation and simply apologize for your own issues and commit to becoming your best self for your spouse.

  6. Take all out massive action to your own personal growth (perfection is not the goal – growth is)

In this exercise, you will need a mirror, a piece of paper (or electronic version of paper), and an honest and willing heart and mind.  

1.  Begin by making a list.  This list is a list of the characteristics you desire in your partner.  For example: I want a spouse who…

  • Has integrity

  • Honors me unconditionally

  • Cherishes me unconditionally

  • Serves unconditionally

  • Listens attentively

  • Is open and vulnerable

  • Is keeping all the vows not just the fidelity one

  • Intentionally growing and learning relational skills

  • Is excited about coming home to me

  • Follows through with what they say

2.  Now take the mirror and look into your eyes and ask yourself how you are doing on the things on your list. If you said you want a partner who follows through, do you? Do you listen the way you want your partner to?

3.  Now take your list and mark your own areas of personal weakness.  Being honest with yourself is the first step to transforming you, your partner, and your relationship.

What would it do for your relationship if your spouse took an honest inventory of his/her life and actions in the relationship and wrote them out and then came to you and was humble and honest with you about their flaws? Would you respect them more or less for their honesty and willingness to look in the mirror and work on themselves to be their best self for you?

Now take your list and spend a little time with yourself. The hardest part about this is to honestly look at yourself without thinking about your partner and his/her actions or list. Remember this is an unconditional list and analysis. 

Avoid statements like… “I’m critical because…” “I’m ________ because…” Stay with the truth of the statement… “I’m Critical” Period! The reason for my criticism doesn’t make my criticism any more right than the reasons he/she would give for their actions. A critical spirit is wrong and never helps a relationship move forward – period!

So whatever the reason or rationale for your critical spirit, it is irrelevant to the fact that your critical spirit is not helping you move toward health in your relationship and needs to be dealt with.

On the other side, be careful that this doesn’t become a self-bashing session but rather a self-aware session. The point isn’t to beat yourself up but to become self-aware of your actions that affect your relationship in a positive and negative way. Once you are self-aware you are ready for the next step

4.  Make a “decide”

  • Decide that you will work on yourself before trying to change your partner.

  • Decide that you will become your best self no matter what your partner does or doesn’t do.

  • Decide that you will commit to learning and growing and becoming the person you need to be for your relationship to be all it can be.

No one is perfect! Everybody has a zit. Look in the mirror, find yours and pop it!

5.  Do more than just discover Growth may begin with awareness but it’s realized in action.  Look in the mirror… Make your list… and then take action.

  • This may require an apology

  • This may require accountability

  • This may require a deep level of determination

  • This may require coaching

Action is the resistance that develops the muscle that produces the desired outcome. It is not always easy in the moment of action. But the repeated action can produce a result that leads to an extraordinary relationship.”

It is time to put yourself first and become the person that is so compelling that your spouse can’t resist you and will make changes to keep you!


Related Blogs: “Put Self First – Oxygen principle“ “Forget the Past – Focus Forward“ “Power of Making a Decide

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