Why It’s Time for an Attitude Check-Up

Leslie and I (Les) once took a flight on a Cessna plane after a retreat in northwestern Washington state’s San Juan Islands. We began the flight nervous, having never flown in such a small aircraft. As we soared over the beautiful Cascade Mountains and Puget Sound, our fear dissolved.

During that flight, something the pilot said caught our attention: that the attitude of the plane, not the altitude, was the single most important aspect of landing safely. The plane’s attitude is related to the position of its nose as it comes in for a landing. Too high or low, and you risk catastrophe.

The same is true for our attitudes in marriage (and other relationships). A negative attitude, for example, impacts our ability to practice happiness. Can we build joyful marriages if we don’t make happiness a habit? Absolutely not.

Think it’s time for an attitude check-up? We do. That’s because there’s never a bad time to check in with your outlook.

Optimism Check-Up

Do you look at life optimistically? We don’t mean that you should disconnect from reality. That’s not the case at all. But we are suggesting that looking at life through a positive lens could be beneficial not only for you, but for your marriage.

If you’re not a “glass half full” type of person, it’s time to practice. We’re more likely to feel fulfilled in marriage and in life when we think positively. At any rate, being intentionally optimistic can’t hurt!

Adaptability Check-Up

How adaptable are you? Having an adaptable attitude means you’re able to adjust to changes in your environment or circumstances. Those can be small changes, or they could be major ones.

Not being adaptable means you’re vulnerable to bitterness and resentment. It also reveals that you might have a personal agenda. Being rigid makes it harder to solve everyday problems and maintain intimacy. In other words, failing to adapt well could throw your marriage seriously off-course.

In chapter 10 of our book, Strengthen Your Marriage, you can find an exercise that helps you rate your own adaptability. We suggest checking in with yourself from time to time to ensure you’re staying open-minded and flexible. Your spouse will thank you!

Resiliency Check-Up

When an inevitable crisis hits your life, how will you cope with it? The answer lies in your resilience. Being resilient means maintaining a calm attitude when life gets chaotic. It’s challenging to achieve, but definitely not impossible.

Crisis comes in many forms. Maybe your relationship gets rocky. Perhaps there are issues with finances or employment you didn’t see coming. Or one of you might develop a serious health problem that impacts your quality of life. Whatever comes your way, having healthy ways to cope together will pay dividends.

For a deeper dive into optimism, adaptability, and resiliency, we invite you to check out Strengthen Your Marriage. It’s a guidebook designed for married couples to help–you guessed it–make your marriage stronger (and chapter 10 contains some exercises and actionable steps you can take to improve your outlook). Pair it with the SYMBIS+ Assessment for deeper insights into yourselves and your relationship. You can pick up your copy here.

How’s your attitude? Do you need to check-in with yourself more often to stay in a better frame of mind? Let us know what you think in the comments.


  • From Scripture we are encouraged to be positive with our attitude. Phil. 4:4-8. The “if anything” could easily be translated “since these things are” Paul ends that verse with a promise…”put it into practice, and the God of peace will be with you”. For most, sinful and though redeemed by Christ’s death and resurrection, it is still hard to let loose of selfishness, pride and wanting our way. This attitude and practice can wreck havoc in any marriage.
    To have a positive attitude for some seems to come very easily or naturally, yet for others it starts as a major chore and learning to be intentional to develop this positive and optimistic lens by which life is seen. I believe Jesus calls us to be/have a positive attitude and out look for living the life he has given us. Since Jesus is our role model we need to practice this positive embrace. It does not mean we deny reality because the fallen sinful world culture is very evident of being grossly negative. With Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit we can over come the world because Jesus said: “I have overcome the world”. Happy building!!

  • Larry Polvogt says:

    I appreciate David J’s response to the concept that attitude strongly affects our reaction to stressful situations or people who come on strong (or our interpretation) of another coming on too strong. Charles Swindoll is famous to stating “attitude is 90% of the issues in life.” What a good idea to do attitude check ups from time to time, perhaps weekly. Practicing Philippians 4:8-9 is sound advice and a winning practice.
    Larry Polvogt

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