Changing the way you think to change your marriage

By Mitch Temple

Thoughts and attitudes are like the engine of a train and our emotions and behaviour are like the caboose.

Thoughts help form and determine your attitudes toward marriage. They determine how you feel about your spouse as well as how you feel about being married in general. Thoughts can inspire hope – or take it away. Changing the way you think is like a locomotive that switches tracks and heads in a new direction, taking the rest of the train – behaviour, actions, and habits – right along with it.

Behaviour

The word transform comes from the same basic root for the English word metamorphosis. As larvae go through a radical change to become butterflies, so must we sometimes radically change our minds in order to have a healthy faith and marriage.

When we do make this change, we will not think of ourselves higher than we should, and our judgments (perceptions, beliefs, conclusions, attitudes) will be sober, clear, and accurate. Transforming our thinking can lead us to the right behaviours. The right behaviour will then lead to the outcomes we want such as peace, intimacy, and oneness. The more we understand this principle, the more positive impact it will have on our relationships.

Actions

One of my good friends, Dr. Gary Rosberg, is one of the most spiritual men I know. When I grow up I want to be just like him. Whenever we're together, talk on the phone, correspond by e-mail, or chat after I finish a radio interview on his show, the last thing he always says to me is, "Hey Mitch, guard your heart, brother." This is another way of saying, "Be very careful to protect your mind from the wrong stuff. Put the right things in your mind. Protect it. Shield it from the bad influences." Just recently, after the birth of my first grandchild, Gary's message to me was: "Mitch, guard your heart, brother. The stakes just got higher."

I know Gary means for me to guard my heart in every area of life, including my relationship with my wife, Rhonda. Like a computer, if I put the right things into my mind, the right things will likely come out. Gary understands this. He knows that if my thinking is on track, then the rest of my life will be too.

Habits

Sure, our actions may be due to "unthinking" habits we've fallen into. You may leave the bathroom messy every day without even thinking about it. Just part of the routine, right?

But if you reflect on that habit, you may discover that there was a particular thought, belief, value, or idea that led you to the action – or at minimum maintained it. Maybe you thought at some time previously, I did this before I was married, so I should be able to keep on doing it. Or, What's the big deal? I'll clean up later, but now I'm in a hurry.

Sometimes, though, our distorted thinking can lead to consequences much more severe than squabbles about bathrooms.


From The Marriage Turnaround: How Thinking Differently About Your Relationship Can Change Everything published by Moody Publishers. © 2009 Mitch Temple. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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