How do you “smell” your spouse? That may seem like a silly or even a gross question. But it concerns stinking thinking perceptions. Upon reading the following scripture, that’s what occurred to us. How do we “smell” our spouse? We’re told in 2 Corinthians 2:16, “To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.”
That particular scripture refers to spiritual life and death. But there’s another type of life and death perception that we can grab onto. It can bring about the eventual death or renewing the life of our marriages. If we view our spouse as someone we no longer like, love, trust, or whatever negative spin we grab onto, it doesn’t matter what he or she does. It’s like there is a stench in the air. And sometimes that stench leads to the death of the relationship.
And yet another person can do the same thing, and all is well. Grace is given. At the very least, we give them the benefit of the doubt. Is that fair or “right”? No! But it happens.
Stinking Thinking Perceptions
Its been said that, “perception is in the eye (or the nose) of the beholder.” And that is so true. When you’re married and you’re around each other so much, sometimes familiarity can taint how we view our spouse.
There are times when I find myself viewing my husband Steve in a negative way. Yeah, I know he’s a great guy. But sometimes he does things that are irritating. (But I also confess that I sometimes do things Steve can see as irritating. And he may even be right in seeing it that way.)
But the problem comes in when that’s all I see (or smell). I become perceptually impaired or challenged. And the same goes for Steve when he embraces stinking thinking. This isn’t just a wife’s problem. Husbands can go to that smelly place too.
In all honesty, sometimes our negative perceptions can lead us to work to resolve the situation. And that can be good (when it leads to a healthy resolution). But sometimes it can be bad if we cling to those unhealthy perceptions.
When either one of us catches ourselves going in that direction, we try to apply the principle given in the humorous Featured Video on this web site, “Simple advice we need.” (You’ve got to see it. It’s really funny—at least we think so.) We are now learning to put intentionality into stopping our thoughts from going in negative directions (when it’s not healthy to do so).
We pray and ask God to help us to start viewing each other the way HE does. Our prayer is for God to help us to focus on each other’s good qualities, rather than the negative.
Praying When We Latch Onto Stinking Thinking
And then we pray through and focus on the following scripture in the days ahead. This may help you as well, if you’re on this stinking thinking path, in how you view your spouse:
“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.” (Philippians 4:8-9)
It’s amazing, as I/we do that, how God is faithful in helping us to individually rearrange our thinking. This puts our thoughts onto the right track, which brings peace into our marriage. Consider, is your “smeller” broken? If so, ask God for help.
“Marriages become more about what we believe about each other. If we think on good things (as Philippians 4 says) this truth will be a blessing.” (Eye2eyemarriage)
With that thought in mind, we came across a “little exercise, which you can use to help you detect the stinkin’ thinkin’ that needs to be thrown out with the trash.” It comes from an article posted on Crosswalk.com, written by Sharon Janes, titled, No More Stinkin’ Thinkin. Here’s what Sharon advises (which we encourage, as well):
Stinking Thinking Solutions
If you think life needs adjusting, how about praying this prayer with me:
Dear heavenly Father, help me to realize when my thinking needs adjusting. I know that I cannot act differently than I think. Help me to run my thoughts through the sieve of Philippians 4:8. Then Your peace will rule in my heart.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Here’s little exercise to help you detect the stinkin’ thinkin’ that needs to be thrown out with the trash. Make a list of God’s filter for our thoughts and carry it around with you today.
Ask yourself, is this thought:
If your words or thoughts don’t pass the test, then push the delete button and replace them with ones that do.
We hope you will. Both of us have found that it works. We hope and we pray that it works for you.
Prayerfully Consider What Bradley (and we) Have:
“I’ve been learning that in order to truly experience the fulfillment God’s destined marriage for, I need to allow Him to renew these ‘Stinking Thinking’ mindsets I carry and replace them with His mindset for marriage.
“At the end of the day, you and I are naturally selfish, prideful, and unloving, yet He calls us to be selfless, humble, and always loving in marriage. What this world trains us to do and what God calls us to be are in direct conflict with each other, and the battle is being fought in our mind.
“This isn’t a war we can win by fighting harder, though. In fact, the only way we can experience victory is through surrender. Giving God the authority in our lives to renew our mind and remove the ‘stinking thinking’ within.” (Bradley Bennett, from his article, Stinking Thinking in our Marriage and How God Wants to Renew It)
We realize for some of you, this will be much harder for you to do. That is because of the emotional damage you have encountered in your relationship. It could be because your spouse is not acting like a partner in your marriage—perhaps worse. But prayerfully, as you put intentionality and perseverance into doing this, God will help you.
That doesn’t mean excusing bad behavior. And it does not mean glossing over it with “positive thoughts.” It means, however, that you don’t further add onto the negative by adding your own stinking thinking onto it. Don’t mentally paint the picture darker than it already is. And don’t paint it darker than it is beneficial. Ask God to help you to focus on what is TRUE… noble, right, etc.
As you reach out to live out “God’s intended design” for your life:
“Don’t let harmful mindsets keep you from experiencing it. ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.‘ (Romans 12:2) We can break the patterns of ‘stinking thinking’ from the world by allowing God to renew our mind. When we allow Him to do this, we are transformed and our desires become one with His commands.” (Bradley Bennett)
Do what you need to do in bringing peace to your home. But don’t allow your thoughts to go in places they shouldn’t. This just adds to the pain. Someone once said something to consider. “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” And they do!
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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