3 Ways to Improve Stinkin’ Thinkin’ in Your Marriage

When things go off track in your relationship with your spouse, do you find yourself entertaining negative thoughts like, “This is never going to get better.” “I give up!” “God doesn’t care.” “God has abandoned me.”? It is at moments like this we need to recognize that these thoughts are from the enemy and not representative of God’s will and design for our marriage.

 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10

The world (through Satan’s influence) presents a much different view of marriage than what God intended. Human perceptions of marriage are abundantly available to us. They are modeled and presented to us every day through well-meaning friends, family members, television “reality” shows and sitcoms, movies, self-help books, even talk show “experts” like Oprah! The best efforts and wisdom of humans cannot begin to hold a candle to what God wants for us in our marriages. The model of a God-centered marriage is not readily available and is often counter-cultural. As Christians, it is easy for us to get pulled into living a “self-centered” marriage (what’s in this marriage for ME?) as opposed to a “God-centered” marriage (what’s GOD’S intention of marriage for me?). By choosing to follow God’s path for your marriage, your relationship will be infused with more joy and fulfillment than you ever expected!

“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.” 1 corinthians 2:9-10

When our marriage starts to spiral in a negative direction, if we allow our hearts to turn bitter, we will begin entertaining wrong thoughts, and we will start having wrong feelings that will lead to wrong actions. Here are three ways to turn around this “stinkin’ thinkin’.

1) Check your thoughts about God. When we start having negative thoughts about our spouse or towards God we need to stop and heed God’s warning in Proverbs 4:23,

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

I once heard it said that when we sin in our actions, we have sinned twice. First in our thoughts and then in our actions. For this reason, we need to begin by surrendering our thoughts and our emotions to Jesus every day so that our actions will be Spirit guided and pleasing to the Lord.

One of the best ways to surrender our thoughts is to spend time in God’s Word understanding the full glory of who God is and his promises for us:

We are children of God“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

God is always good and always loves us – “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” 1 Chronicles 16:34

God is always with us“The Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut. 31:6

God will always do the most loving thing “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

God will comfort us in our afflictionsPraise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

2) Control your thoughts about your spouse. Once we have the right thoughts towards God, then we can begin to adjust our thinking towards our spouses. One way I keep my thoughts from wandering into negative territory towards my spouse is to run whatever negative thought I am entertaining through this verse:

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. Philippians 4:8
It helps me align my thoughts towards how God views my spouse. Years ago I wrote out a list of “100 Things I Love About You” and gave it to my spouse. I kept a copy for myself too. Sometimes when I am upset with my spouse, it helps for me to pull out the list and review what is really true, noble, admirable, etc. about my spouse.
3) Trust God for the outcome. We so want to fix and control things that are not going well in our marriage, but God wants us to:
Trust in theLord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6
When there is friction in your marriage, God wants you to make it between you and God, not you and your spouse.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6-7
This piece started with a warning to “guard your hearts,” and now God is telling us how to do it. Release your negative emotions to the Him and do what is right in eyes of the Lord. Faithfully wait on the Lord for justice, righteousness, etc. Be acutely aware of how God wants to work in you through this situation. One way for sure is through improving your humility. Humility isn’t being a doormat, it is strength under opposition. It is trusting in God’s will rather than demanding our own self-centered will.
God may give you actions to take to accomplish his will in your marriage and to heal your situation, but any actions he prompts you to take will align with his Word and will be done in love. Here is a final piece of Scripture to take to heart:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?…But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Matthew 6:25,33-34