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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

As promised, this is a follow up post to yesterday’s Watchfulness post.

In summary, those who remain watchful are those who refuse to live their lives on auto-pilot, who keep their spirit, soul and body wide awake to all that is going on in and around them. More specifically, being watchful over your marriage means living attentively toward your spouse, alert to how the things you think, say, feel and do affect your marriage.

But watchfulness has an important counterpart: Thankfulness.

This verse from yesterday's post reminds us of this important coupling:

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  Colossians 4:2 (NIV)

I see watchfulness and thankfulness as closely linked in several ways.

Watch Thankfully

First of all, I believe we should always watch from a place of thankfulness rather than from a place of criticality and negativity. When you live with a heart full of thanksgiving, it will greatly affect what you see and how you see it!

I know that this is a great challenge! It is our human nature to focus on the negative. I am an engineer by training and experience. I am a problem solver. I look for problems! But I’ve found that looking for blessings and for reasons to be thankful is a much better path to a happy marriage. Problems will present themselves without you having to look for them very hard. It is way too easy to overlook the blessings.

Be vigilant to watch thankfully.

Focus on the Good Stuff

As important as it is to watch that the things you think, say and do don’t harm your marriage, it is even more important to watch for ways to bless your spouse and enhance your life together. When you feel like you are continually in problem-solving mode it is easy to get weary. But how much more joyful you will be when you are living with the eyes of your heart constantly seeking ways to bless your spouse?

The Bible exhorts us in this direction:
So don't get tired of doing what is good. Don't get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time. Gal 6:9 (NLT)

Thankfulness makes doing good so much easier!

Be Thankful Out Loud

Make it a habit to communicate appreciation to your spouse on a daily basis. When you are watching thankfully, you should be much more attuned to the goodness in your marriage and much more able to find good things to say. This is especially important if your spouse’s love language includes words of affirmation.

Words of thankfulness also help keep us from taking things for granted (and likewise help keep your spouse from feeling taken for granted). For, example, my wife does most of the cooking in our house and always has, but I still try to remember to express my appreciation for the time and effort that went into preparing each meal.

Words have creative power. Words affect the atmosphere of your marriage. So don’t just think your thanks, say them!

Thankfulness and Peace

There are at least half a dozen scriptures that closely link peace with thankfulness. When your heart is full of thanks, anxiety, fear and strife of all kinds tend to melt away.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7

Further, thankfulness helps us to be more contented with what we have already instead of always striving for more and more and more.

As you work at being more alert and attentive to your spouse and your marriage, don’t’ forget the importance of being thankful in the process!


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