Change Your Thoughts to Change Your Marriage
- Monday, February 23, 2009
An important part of building a soul mate relationship is simply showing up – physically and emotionally – no matter how hurt or hopeless you might happen to feel at a particular time. Also remember to keep your expectations of each other realistic. Your spouse is a real person who can’t possibly measure up to a mythical idea of an ideal soul mate. Focus on your spouse as he or she actually is, and make up your mind to discover your soul mate – and become one.
“My needs come first.” You know you have a consumer attitude toward your marriage when you catch yourself thinking or saying things like,
- “What am I getting out of this marriage, anyway?”
- “I deserve better” or
- “What’s in this for me?”
But the more you focus on getting your own needs met in your marriage, the less likely that is to happen because your attitude will undermine your relationship with your spouse and make him or her less likely to want to meet your needs.
Research has shown that the marriages that work best are those in which both spouses decide every day to make sacrifices for the good of the other. Ask God to help you overcome your selfish nature and develop a desire to serve your spouse daily. Pray for the compassion and empathy you need for your spouse. Be willing to help your mate whenever he or she needs it – no matter how inconvenient it will be for you to help. Remember that, ultimately, it’s God who meets your needs. Sometimes He just uses your spouse to do so. Whenever you’re concerned that one of your needs isn’t being met, pray about it and trust God to help you.
“Happiness is everything.” There’s simply no such thing as a happy pill you can take for your marriage. Sometimes you and your spouse will go through circumstances that make you feel happy, but sometimes you’ll encounter challenges that will make you feel unhappy. Just as your circumstances will constantly change, so will your feelings. So decide to base your marriage decisions on something much more reliable than your feelings – base them on timeless biblical truth. If you live by God’s truths revealed in the Bible, you’ll discover that right living – doing the right thing, even when it doesn’t make you happy – will actually lead to more happiness in the long run because you’ll be making decisions that protect you from lots of unnecessary pain.
So instead of spending your energy pursuing things that create happiness, direct your energy toward pursuing God above all else, and happiness will naturally come into your life. Rather than expecting your spouse to make you happy (which is futile), focus on serving your spouse, and enjoy the improvements that will bring to your marriage.
Be sure to forgive your spouse every time he or she hurts or offends you. Withholding forgiveness will prevent you from experiencing happiness in your life. Rely on God’s help throughout the forgiveness process. When you decide to follow His call to forgive despite your negative feelings toward your spouse, God will give you His peace that you never could have experienced otherwise.
“It’s okay to be rude – we’re married!” Although you may feel so comfortable around your spouse that you think anything goes in your relationship, being rude will only harm your marriage. Marriage doesn’t give you a license to mistreat each other. Take your little annoying habits seriously because they may be big deal to your spouse. Ask God to help you stop whatever habits bother your spouse, from putting your feet on the furniture at home to making sarcastic comments about him or her in public.
Be patient while your spouse tries to change his or her own annoying habits. Recognize the significant effect that rude behavior in your marriage has not just on the two of you, but also on others in your lives, like your children. Do all you can to treat your spouse the way you would like your spouse to treat you.
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