Marital Junk Mail: Stinking Thinking

junk mail stinking thinking Pixabay letterbox-211428_1920Are you getting a lot of junk mail lately? We sure are. We’re being sent invitations to “vacation opportunities” and so much more. I’m so tired of throwing out glossy advertisements, and catalogues. But throwing it all out is better than letting it pile up all over the place. They can accumulate and make one big confusing mess. It wouldn’t take long before it would just fill up our home and take over.

I was thinking how this is a lot like some of the thoughts that pop into our minds concerning our spouses. Sometimes the “junk” we focus on about our marriage partner can push our focus in a “messy” direction. It’s one we shouldn’t head towards, because it feeds our discontentment, rather than helping us look for healthy solutions.

Junk Mail

It reminds me of something I read that Christa Rose Bartlett wrote, in a Today’s Christian Woman article titled, Marriage Junk Mail:

“I picture the junk mail of marriage as Satan’s propaganda of fulfillment found outside of God. His intended audience is couples with weaknesses that he can exploit; his goal is distraction from what’s important. And just like those endless brochures and sweepstakes offers, marriage junk mail targets our natural dissatisfaction.

“Why do we grasp at anything but God when our marriages demand work? The mental junk we squirrel away becomes a twisted comfort: a good-looking colleague’s compliment, a competitive couple’s misfortune, an intrusive in-law’s embarrassment,” and more.

“Sometimes we grab onto unhealthy comfort and feed thoughts we just shouldn’t. We forget about the grace God gives us and hold back on giving the grace we should give to our marriage “partner.”

Social Media Junk Mail

Selena Frederick brings up a similar point, as it relates to social media and how it can feed us junk. It’s posted in a article titled, Is Social Media Causing Sin in Your Marriage? Selena makes the point:

“Social media allows us to show pieces of our lives —and only the ones we choose to show, which are often just the greatest pieces and moments. This is not a bad thing. However, the trouble begins when we start perceiving these as reality and not simply a beautiful moments in time.

“Too many times I stumble into coveting something in that person’s life. (To covet is to want something someone else has. Yeah, it’s a sin and part of the 10 Commandments.) Be it peace, financial wealth, cute clothes, a husband who intentionally thinks about cooking dinner or bringing home flowers…whatever it is, I somehow find myself comparing and coveting (which is a sin!).”

And it is. Yet we often give life to thoughts, which we shouldn’t. As a result, they can cause problems in our marriages.

A Lesson Learned

A number of years ago, the Lord showed me this same message. I was grabbing onto junk mail thoughts —ones I shouldn’t have entertained, concerning my husband Steve. Eventually it began to push the good that is in him out of my sight.

God used the scriptures found in Philippians 4:8-9 to remind me where I truly WAS to place my focus:

Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me —put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

As I changed (and continue to change) my focus, which took (and takes) a lot of intentionality (through a long process of throwing out the junk and taking in the good), God’s peace has been there. When I grab onto stinking thinking, or junk I shouldn’t entertain, it isn’t.

Does that mean that we should just focus on the positive all the time and never address that, which needs to be worked on and addressed? No, of course not. But we need to let go of that, which we have no control over, and that, which only God can accomplish. (He IS our spouse’s Holy Spirit, and we are not.) And we need to approach that, which is left over, more prayerfully and carefully. It’s important to use the wisdom God will give us as we ask for it.

A Few Cautions… Remember:

• We can say the same thing, but speak the “truth in LOVE” rather than using sarcasm, cynicism, and/or contempt.

• It is wise to use the H.A.L.T. Method when we need to discuss important matters. Do not approach our spouse if they (or we) are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.

• We should better choose our words so we aren’t dumping out from our mouths more than we should say. (It’s important to ask God to help us to empty out the “junk” beforehand. The enemy of our faith is good at getting us to grab onto this junk to throw it at our spouse.)

• It helps to talk with God before “talking” with our spouse about volatile matters. (I’m talking about anything that has the potential to bring more drama into the situation than is needed. Also, beware of being too historical —bringing up old issues that should not be resurrected.)

• Work with God to dig for the gold. Look for that, which is “admirable.” When it’s possible, focus on the good, rather than throwing around the dirt.  It helps them to trust us that we actually are their “partner” who cares, rather than their opponent.

That’s my challenge to you, as it is for me. Don’t grab onto bad attitudes, discontentment, envy, and strife.

Look for the good in your spouse, even if you have to ask God for the eyes to see it beyond the messy stuff. If you do, you will eventually find it.

Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this blog.

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