What do you think about your marriage?
I don’t mean in vague terms, like, “It’s good,” or “We’ve had better days.” I mean, literally. What are the actual thoughts you have about your marriage?
Do you think of your spouse as someone to nurture and care for – or as someone you have to endure? Do you think of conflict as a battle to win – or as an opportunity for God to draw the two of you closer together? When you disagree, do you think God is on your side or your spouse’s side – or do you think He’s on the side of your marriage?
Notice my liberal use of the word “think.”
What you think about your marriage has a lot to do with how you treat it. Your thoughts influence your beliefs, and your beliefs influence how you behave.
That’s why the Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
If you apply Paul’s words to your relationship, you’ll understand more fully what it means to think your way to a better marriage.
Admittedly, thinking more positively can be difficult to do. In fact, you may need the Lord’s help. We live in a “me-centric” world. We’re all selfish by nature, and it’s easy to get into a negative rut. That’s especially true if your marriage has seen its share of conflict.
Even at its best, marriage is the union of two people who naturally gravitate toward what they individually want. And that can put a husband and wife at odds with one another.
But God never intended a couple’s quirks and personality differences to be a source of torment and heartache within marriage. His desire is to turn what would otherwise be obstacles into opportunities to grow and become more Christ-like.
And it all begins with your thoughts. If you can frame your thoughts according to God’s idea of relationship, your whole outlook on your marriage can improve. Instead of criticizing her, you can encourage what God is doing in her life. Instead of working against him, you can ask how to support him and pray for him. Instead of drifting apart, biblical thinking can alter your approach to your spouse and your marriage and move you, as a couple, toward Jesus together.
The lesson we often take from the parable of the Good Samaritan is everybody is our neighbor. But we usually interpret that in terms of everyone “out there” – friends, co-workers, the couple next door, the person working the register at the store. We’ll go out of our way to be nice to people we know only on the periphery.
But we often don’t think of our spouse as our neighbor, too. We easily take for granted the people who are closest to us, and we don’t show them the same level of appreciation and care that we show to complete strangers.
That’s why changing your thinking, although simple, may be revolutionary for a lot of couples. If you make a habit of treating your spouse as your “neighbor,” how can your marriage not get stronger? It brings to my mind that beautiful Scripture in Romans 12:12: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
Over the next couple of programs, we’ll be discussing exactly how to gain control of your thoughts and the benefits it can bring to your marriage. Our guests are Sheila and Keith Gregoire. Sheila is an author, blogger, and speaker. Keith is a pediatrician. You can hear our conversation on your local radio station, online, or via our free, downloadable mobile phone app.
If you’re struggling in this area, and conflict has made “thinking positively” about your relationship a bit of a stretch right now, know that Focus on the Family is here for you. We’d love for you to call us and allow us the privilege of giving you some individual attention and perspective as well as pointing you in the direction for additional help. Our counselors are available at 855-771-HELP (4357).