Marriage is plain hard when you have two injured souls trying to merge their lives as Christians while maintaining a worldly mindset. God calls this being double-minded (James 1:8) and serving two masters (Matt 6:24).
My Coming To Jesus Moment
When I was first saved, I didn’t even know what a “worldly mindset” meant. And serving two masters? I wasn’t about to serve a single one, let alone two. My thoughts were a mess. I was angry, resentful, and insecure, totally focused on myself and getting my needs met. My messed up thinking (and resulting actions) were making me, and everyone around me, miserable.
One day I reached a point I couldn’t stand myself any longer. As I cried out my fear and frustration, I didn’t hear God’s voice speak words of wisdom. I didn’t feel his soothing love surround and comfort me. Instead, this feeling, this urge, deep down inside me began to grow. I had a revelation God wasn’t oppressive like I’d been taught. He had already given me the control I craved!
From Worldly (or Flesh) Mindset To God’s Mindset
Anyone looking at my life could see I had made a mess of most everything. I was at a crossroads and had a decision to make that nobody else could make but me…not even God. As part of this crossroads decision, I had to come clean and admit to God (and myself) my part in my mess. No more rebellion, no more excuses. God wouldn’t make me change, talk with him, open my Bible to learn about him, or submit to my husband.
I either had to begin trusting God and his ways or I could walk back down the self-serving path I had created for myself.
I Chose Christ and His Ways
I had tried everything else to “fix” myself. Maybe I could let Jesus in the door and see what he would do. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my life needed to change with the change starting inside of me regardless of what God was doing (or not doing) with my husband or my marriage.
During this time of revelation, Holy Spirit used a random quote about my thought life to get my attention. He then began to show me through Scripture what he expected of me. You can read more about what God taught me by clicking the following link “How I learned to take every thought captive; the battle for my mind“.
But God, how?
Knowing I needed to change from the inside out and knowing how to proceed were two very different things. Even though I wasn’t sure how to go about changing, I did have a Bible sitting around gathering dust. And since I didn’t know what to pray except “God help me”, I figured the Bible was a good starting point.
“Notice the way God does things; then fall into line. Don’t fight the ways of God, for who can straighten out what he has made crooked?” (Ecclesiastes 7:13)
1. I began To Spend Time Getting To Know God’s Thoughts Through His Bible.
In the beginning, so much of Scripture didn’t make sense to me. But two books I found, Proverbs and James, spoke to me. These two books became my godly nuggets of wisdom showing me how I should behave, think, treat others, etc. During this time, I began to force myself to pay attention to my thoughts about my husband and my marriage. If I had a negative, ugly thought about either, I would read my Bible in one of those two books until I found something God had to say about marriage and relationships. I spent months in these books before moving on.
To be clear, I wasn’t searching for ammunition I could use against Mike. Although we got saved within hours of each other, I felt Mike was quickly light years ahead of me in his walk with Christ (which might be attributed to my rebellion). The biggest difference I could see was that from the beginning Mike immersed himself in his Bible every chance he got. I was still at a point of using God’s Word as the last resort.
Anyway, I was searching for what I was doing wrong and how God wanted me to change. Sometimes I simply didn’t know that what I was thinking was worldly (or flesh thinking) and I needed my Bible to show me. Once I found a verse that spoke to me, I would force myself to replace the bad thought with a godly thought (a Bible verse).
It went something like this: I wanted the laundry folded a certain way, as soon as the dryer beeped. When this didn’t happen, I would let my displeaser be known in a “joking” manner that was really hurtful. I was okay knowing my comments would start a fight because I was the wife and it needed to be done my way. If it was the garage or yard he could do things his way. But not in my house.
God brought me to this correction after such an argument: “Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” (Proverbs 21:9)
My NTL Bible version said it this way: “It is better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a contentious wife in a lovely home.”
“Do all things without complaining and disputing.” (Philippians 2:14)
Ouch! Well, hmm. Okay. So God didn’t approve of my being argumentative, manipulating, or nagging Mike. I was to treat him as the adult he was and respect that he not only didn’t need me to remind him multiple times a day to do something but that it was his house too and he had an equal say in everything.
Living in a small corner of the attic is the furthest a man can physically get from his wife and still be under the same roof. If I didn’t want Mike to distance himself from me (mentally or physically), I needed to get control of my thoughts and tongue (James 1:19-20).
I then had to remind myself of these verses When things came up that didn’t really matter (like things that were not done the way I liked them), I might say “my” verse out loud, write it down on a sticky note or index card and put it where I would see it multiple times a day. Even turning “my” verse into a prayer helped.
If I was really struggling in an area, I did all the above.
2. I Began To Pray
“The Lord hates the sacrifice of the wicked, but he delights in the prayers of the upright.” (Proverbs 15:8)
Once I saw in my Bible that my thoughts or actions were wrong, I had to take it to God and ask for forgiveness and help. But I couldn’t just pray for myself and what I wanted anymore. Nor could I pray, “God, Mike makes me so mad; just smite him, Lord, PLEASE!” type of prayers.
I had to begin to really pray for my husband more than I prayed for myself. If something Mike did bothered me, I forced myself to pray about it. Again, not prayers such as, “God, he’s driving me nuts! Make him stop wanting sex so much!” but “Lord, Mike craves the physical side of our relationship more than I do but help me to desire him like he desires me. Help me to turn to him and not away from him. Thank you that I am physically pleasing to my husband.”
God saw Mike as the amazing man he created him to be, not as the flawed man I was determined to see. Needing God’s help, I prayed to see Mike the way God saw him. I asked God to help me stop thinking of our marriage as a battleground. I prayed for his health, his job, his friendships, his relationship with our children.
If I had something that upset me, I would do my best to take it to God before bringing it up with Mike. I wasn’t always successful but I really tried.
3. I Searched For Ways To Bless In Word And Deed
I had to find ways to put my new Bible knowledge and prayers into action by blessing my husband (yes, even when I didn’t feel like it). (James 2:14)I had to learn to show him my love with words AND actions.
I had to step up and stop waiting on Mike to make the first move (especially when it came to apologizing). Refusing to act (or apologize) first was a matter of pride. I began to do small but significant things like reaching for his hand first, sending him loving text messages during the day.
One of the things I began to do was warm a bath towel in the dryer and place it in the bathroom during Mike’s shower. It wasn’t needed but it was a welcome blessing in the winter.
I began to really listen to Mike, not with half an ear while I looked for a way to escape but with eye contact and an intent to understand. Mike has a very inquisitive mind so I never knew what he was studying or planning to share with me. Some of it I found really interesting but some of it not so much. But it didn’t matter. It gives you a really hollow, invisible feeling when you’re really into something and the other person could care less. I wanted Mike to trust me and feel confident enough in our relationship that he could share anything with me without fearing I would use his words are a weapon.
Changing My Thoughts Changed My Marriage
My marriage wasn’t all about me but the change I wanted sure had to start with me. Learning to leave my mess at the feet of Jesus was such a long, painful process that I struggled with baby step by baby step. It took me a while to realize I could only change myself; what I thought and how I reacted. I had to keep my focus on God and trust Holy Spirit to work in Mike.
I laugh when I think back to my little “I ain’t servin’ no master! Someone can serve ME for a change!” attitude. I’m so thankful God has much more patience and grace with me than I have with myself.
Changing my thought life changed my marriage by allowing it to blossom and grow as we learned to treat and speak with each other in ways that God approved of. Even after all these years, it is so easy to slip back into those old patterns. Thankfully, we both have come to believe that our marriage isn’t about what we can get from each other but what we can give to bless each other.
Renewing your mindset is critical to your daily walk with Christ because your thoughts will dictate your actions. For too long I had refused to change my thoughts and it polluted every area of my life, especially my relationship with my husband.
Because I was a new Christian, I had not yet learned that God’s ways are not our ways. I fully believed you could think anything you wanted without consequences (after all we can’t help our thoughts) and a good marriage was the luck of the draw. But those were poisonous lies of the enemy. God took me by the hand and showed me how to take every thought captive. This allowed me to take captive and replace my negative thoughts. Godly changes to my marriage soon followed.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.” (Romans 12:2)
Father, your way of doing marriage is truly beautiful. Thank you for my marriage. Help me to appreciate my husband and see him the way you see him. I am so very blessed to do life with him. Help me to keep my focus on you and to turn away from the world’s way of marriage and relationships.
Lord, I give my marriage relationship and the fruits of our labor to you. Help me to be the woman you created me to be so that I can be the woman my husband needs by his side. Thank you for helping us to enjoy each others company. I pray we never take each other for granted.
Lord God, our heart’s desire is to be a living reflection of you so that our children can see it is possible to have a godly marriage with you as the head. If there is a stronghold in our lives, guide us in renewing our minds so that we may live in your perfect will. In Jesus’ mighty name I pray, Amen!