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Saturday, September 10, 2011
What comes to mind when you think about your marriage? What thoughts are conjured up when you think about your husband or wife? Really! This is not a rhetorical question. Take out a sheet of paper (or make list in your cell phone). Right now. Write down the first five words or phrases that come to mind when you think of your marriage relationship. Now do it again for your spouse. What five words or phrases first come to mind when you think of him or her.
Don’t filter it. Don’t think too hard. Just put down the first thoughts that come to your mind.
Go ahead. Do it. I’ll wait…
Now look at your list, and reflect on a couple of questions:
Is it mostly about you?
Even though the list is supposed to be about your marriage and your spouse, is what you wrote really more about what you feel you aren’t getting? Is it more about what you want or what you feel you deserve? If your thoughts naturally drift toward yourself and your own needs, I encourage you to consider the degree to which your selfishness is affecting your attitude about your marriage.
Is it mostly positive or mostly negative?
Of your ten words or thoughts, how many are negative in nature? Consider how significantly your thoughts and words affect the atmosphere of your marriage. Learn to look for good stuff, learn to think it, and learn to speak it.
Is it full of grace?
Seeing your marriage and spouse through the eyes of grace means sometimes seeing things “as if” they were true. There should be a few items on your list that may not be completely “accurate” in one sense, but still are completely “true” in another. Why is grace important? Because we are commanded to love like Jesus, and that is exactly how he saw people – for what they could be and would be, not necessarily just for what there were in the present.
What you think matters
You might think this a silly little exercise, but the truth is that the way you think about your marriage and your spouse has the power to shape your marriage in significant ways. I often say that right thinking leads to right doing.
You can change your mind
You might be saying, “But I can’t help how I feel!” In one sense that’s true. But what you feel can be hugely impacted by what and how you think. Change your mind and you can change your emotions.
Here are a few tips to help you improve your thinking.
- Practice thankfulness daily. Every day consider at least one thing you are thankful for about your spouse or your marriage. Bonus points if you tell your spouse! Philippians 4:6-7 exhorts us to not be anxious, but to pray with thanksgiving as a means to having the peace of Christ rule our minds and hearts.
- Guard your thoughts. What are you feeding your mind with? Do you let TV, movies and gossip news form the basis of what you believe about marriage? Or are you purposeful in gaining a solid understanding of God’s design for marriage? There’s lots of stuff about that in this blog – explore!
- Watch what you say to your spouse and about your spouse and your marriage. You can shift the atmosphere in your marriage by working to make at least 10 positive, affirming and kind statements for every negative one. Better yet, go for 50-to-1!
- Pray for your spouse and your marriage. Commit to pray daily for your spouse and your marriage. And I don’t mean the “Lord, please make him/her do ______.” I mean pray that they will be strengthened, for their spiritual life, for them to walk in their destiny in Christ and for blessing. If you don’t know what or how to pray, the prayers found in Ephesians 1:17-23, Ephesians 3:16-21 and in Colossians 1:9-12 are fantastic for praying for your spouse.
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.
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