Change Your Thoughts to Change Your Marriage
- Monday, February 23, 2009
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Mitch Temple's book, The Marriage Turnaround: How Thinking Differently about Your Relationship Can Change Everything, (Moody Publishers, 2009).
Do you think your marriage should be making you happy? Are you trying to change your spouse? You may be carrying around a lot of marriage myths like these in your mind without even realizing it.
Our culture is full of commonly held false assumptions about marriage. If you believe them without examining them, they’ll affect your marriage in ways that can be dangerous. But if you change your false beliefs about marriage to reflect biblical truth, you’ll change your marriage for the better.
Here are some of the marriage myths you can overcome:
“The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.” Although other men may seem better than your husband or other women may seem more appealing than your wife, everyone is human. Any other person you may choose to leave your marriage for will end up being just as flawed as your spouse. You’re far better off using your time and energy to work on your existing marriage than leaving – causing yourself and others deep pain the process – only to see new problems spring up in a new relationship.
“Attitudes don’t really count.” Your attitudes determine your feelings and behaviors, so they actually affect your marriage profoundly. If you think negatively, you’re likely to feel badly about your marriage and act in bad ways toward your spouse. But if you think positively, you’ll often feel good about your marriage and choose good actions that will benefit your relationship. If your attitudes are on the right track, then the rest of your life – including your marriage – will be, too. So choose a hopeful attitude about your spouse and your marriage, every day. That will motivate you to make the positive choices that will improve your marriage.
“I need to change my spouse.” No matter how much you’d like to change your spouse, you don’t have the power to change another person. So instead of wasting your time and energy trying to change your spouse, ask God to help you understand, accept, and appreciate your spouse more. Get to know your spouse’s unique personality better. When you’re frustrated by one of your spouse’s behaviors, pray about it and trust God – the only One who can change your spouse – to work in your spouse’s life. If you want to change your marriage, focus on making changes in your own behavior, which will then change the dynamic of your relationship for the better and possibly inspire your spouse to change his or her own behavior.
Keep in mind that there are some aspects of your spouse that will remain the same, such as: gender, different communication styles, genetic influences, life history, and personality. Do all you can to show your mate that you accept him or her. Your unconditional love may motivate your spouse to change for the better (in ways that he or she can) at the right time and in the right ways.
“I didn’t marry my soul mate.” Marriage isn’t a matter of finding the only person in the entire world you should marry or despairing that you’ve missed out if you haven’t found that magical person. The truth is that you could have married any number of people and had your marriage would out just fine. Rather than worrying about finding a soul mate, focus on becoming one. Over time in your marriage, you and your spouse can become each other’s soul mates by growing closer to God and each other.
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