This Marriage Message is going to be a little different because it was spurred on by a letter that was written to us here at Marriage Missions from someone in South Africa. I feel it is something we can all rejoice over as well as learn from together. It talks of a wife who is now seeing things as they really are.
Here’s what she writes:
“I want to share with you a wonderful testimony. My husband and I had been going through a rough patch because we had allowed the devil to come in between us through a VERY minor issue. This issue grew so much that we both had resentment for each other and we always fought for no apparent reason.
“One day I was complaining to God about this marriage, my innocence in the whole matter, and how unfair all this was to me. God suddenly said something that left me stumped. As I was repeatedly claiming my innocence, God reminded me of the verse that says that we have all fallen short of his glory. That was an awesome revelation for me and I realized how I had totally missed it.
“Soon after that I sent my husband a message. (That’s because I couldn’t wait till I saw him in the evening.) I confessed that I was also responsible for the situation in our marriage. I think God was also working on him because when we met in the evening, we both let go of our hurt and we forgave each other. For a moment the devil had blinded us to the truth that God wants us to have a happy marriage, to enjoy and not endure every moment we share together. I so love my husband. But I have learned that I can never love him enough with my human love. That is because I am limited as a person. But I surrender my love to God and he will work through us in an amazing way.”
Isn’t that a remarkable testimony?
God at Work
God works in ways that can sometimes “stump” us, where we think things are one way but then He reveals that we need to look again. When we’re open to looking at the situation with God’s vision, and obey His promptings, “He will work through us in an amazing way.”
As I read this testimony, I was reminded of an article that Robert and Jeanette Lauer wrote for Marriage Partnership Magazine. They wrote,
“We get so busy looking for what we can do to build a happier marriage that we overlook the fact that many of our problems are all in our heads. That is, if we exchanged a few negative thinking patterns for some healthier thought habits, we’d be surprised to find ourselves in a happier marriage.”
In this article, the Lauer’s wrote about a couple who eventually discovered that they were viewing each other in negative ways. No matter what their spouse said or did, they viewed it negatively. But “as they changed how they viewed each other, they found that their marriage was growing into the relationship they had wanted in the first place.” The article goes on to give 6 types of “healthy thinking to build and maintain a happy marriage.” Here’s a portion of what they wrote:
1. Assume the best.
Practice giving each other the benefit of the doubt, since assuming the worst doesn’t help anyone. If your spouse offers to clean the kitchen, don’t assume it’s criticism. Instead, view it as an action designed to show love. Assume that criticism is meant to help rather than to put down. Assume that a sharp response reflects your spouse’s momentary state of irritability rather than a rejection of you as a person.
2. Ask more questions.
If negative thoughts persist and you fear your spouse really did mean to put you down, ask some questions. First, ask yourself why you reacted negatively and what other meanings your spouse’s words or actions might carry. Check with your mate to see if your negative thoughts are accurate. You may find that you misinterpreted a remark.
3. Expect good outcomes.
For the first few years of their marriage, every time Jane and her husband argued she had the same thought. “This marriage is doomed. There’s no hope for our future together.” Her fears caused her to withdraw from her husband. To overcome her negative assumptions, Jane had to stop and rethink the situation. Now when she argues with her husband, she reminds herself that conflict can be good for their marriage and that people who never disagree may not care enough about each other to argue.
4. Focus on what’s good.
You’re married to a flawed person, and so is your mate. You can choose to focus on your partner’s deficiencies or on his or her strengths. For example, a quiet spouse is either withdrawn and emotionally disengaged, or he or she is careful before speaking in an attempt to avoid misunderstanding. So even in the middle of a disagreement, when tension and hurt feelings take center stage, remind yourself of the admirable traits that led you to marry this person.
5. Redefine your differences.
Ever wondered why your spouse couldn’t be more spontaneous, more responsible, more outgoing, or more punctual? In other words, more like you? Toxic thinkers define such differences as serious shortcomings. But healthy thinkers see strength in these same differences. Most of us marry our opposites, a tendency that holds great potential for creating a richer life.
6. Practice loving thoughts.
Some people picture their mates in the context of their deficiencies. But healthy thinkers reflect on things they respect and love about their spouses. A young husband told us that he and his wife set a time every day when each thinks about the other. “We know that when 3:15 rolls around, I’ll be thinking about her and she’ll be thinking of me.”
If you’d like to read the article in its entirety, you can go to the Todayschristianwoman.com article, “It’s All In Your Head.” As with any human advice, pray about whether you should take to heart. Apply any or all of it to the situation in your marriage. Glean what the Lord prompts you to use.
Seeing Things as They Really Are
Two scriptures come to mind that it would be good for ALL of us to pray. It could benefit our marriage and keep us grounded in Truth if we would pray, “Create in clean heart O God and renew a right spirit within me“ (Psalm 51:10).
And “Search me O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting“ (Psalm 139:23-24).
As you pray with an open heart and mind, God will reveal to you if your thoughts about your spouse are healthy and true. He will also reveal if you need to do anything to make things right on your part.
Cindy and Steve Wright
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