3 ways to stop negative thoughts in marriage

After many years of listening to couples in distress, I’ve learned something really interesting.  There often seems to be a tendency for one or both spouses to make negative assumptions about the motivations of their mate or to jump to the most negative conclusions during communication!

I believe both these tendencies are instigated by the devil who would like nothing more than to get you to think negative, unflattering thoughts about your husband.  The devil WANTS you to jump to the most negative conclusions about your husband. The devil WANTS you to misunderstand what your husband is saying so that you will be hurt, frustrated and anxious. 

The first step in fighting against this tendency is to realize what the enemy is up to!  We must be alert to his tactics.  1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Applying this verse in our marital communication means that we continually check ourselves to see if we’ve started jumping to negative conclusions and assigning negative motives to our spouse.

Secondly, if we notice that we are reaching a negative assumption during communication, we ask for clarification from our spouse!  We don’t just start internally grumbling inside about what a jerk our husband is.  We don’t verbally attack them for being a horrible person. We actually pause and ask them to clarify what they meant when they said ___________.  Sometimes it’s not even the words that were said but the facial expression or tone of voice.  Again, ask for clarification.  You might say something like, “When you said that, I felt like you were letting me know that I’m not a good mother.  Is that what you meant to say?”

Thirdly, we must start training our minds to assume the most gracious motivations of our spouse instead of the worst!  It’s so easy to jump to negative motivations though, isn’t it?  Your husband forgets to do a task you asked him to do, and you mumble “He doesn’t care about anyone but himself”.  Your husband struggles with pornography, and you mumble “He’s a disgusting person who would instantly stop looking at porn if he really loved me”.  However, both these events could be framed in our minds completely differently!  When he forgot to do the task, you could say to yourself “I know he didn’t intend to forget. I bet he got busy.”  When you caught him looking at porn, you could say to yourself “I know he doesn’t intend to hurt me. He probably has an actual addiction and needs help.”

Let’s be proactive in examining our thoughts ladies!  2 Corinthians 10:5 take every thought captive to obey Christ

— view this topic as a 4 minute video below

Exchanging anxiety for soul-deep peace

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel my shoulder and neck muscles getting really tight.  My head starts to throb.  I even sometimes feel a little short of breath…or like I can’t even draw a full breath.  These are all warning signs that I am filled with toxic anxiety and worry!  These are also signs that I’ve started to repeat some of the devil’s whispered lies that God is not there for me or he isn’t going to help me.

What is the remedy for anxiety and worry.  Well, the solution is often really quite simple (although hard to remember to do!).  We must remind ourselves that Jesus loves us and that he is completely trustworthy!  We need to speak truth to our souls!

King David, who wrote many of the Psalms. often talked to his soul.  In tough situations or when he was consumed with fear, he would basically give a pep talk to his soul.  He would remind his soul of the truth about God. For instance, in Psalm 42:5, David writes “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”   Is it time to talk truth to your soul?

I regain peace when I remind my soul that God is loving, God is powerful, God is wise, and God is in control! Try reading and maybe even memorizing Psalm 23. God is your shepherd. He is watching over you. You are not alone!

3 questions to ask when discouraged

Sometimes, we feel like we’ve reached the end of our rope!  You may be discouraged because you’ve been praying for God to change your husband’s attitude or behavior, and it’s just not happening.  You may be discouraged because you hoped your children would turn out a certain way, and they seem to be making bad decisions.  You may be discouraged because you’ve been searching for a new job and you can’t find one that fits your abilities and availability.  Now what?

Well, first, don’t give up praying.  In Luke 18:1, the Bible says…”Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”  So, keep asking God for a miracle.   However, maybe it’s time to put on a new set of glasses.  Maybe you’ve been insisting that God do what YOU think is best, instead of praying that God’s perfect will be done.  Now is the time to ask God to reveal his perspective on this issue.  Why don’t you ask him these 3 questions, and then spend some quiet time listening for his response:

1)  Lord, can you help me to see this situation through your eyes?

2)  How are you trying to change me or teach me through this situation?

3)  Is there a lie the enemy is trying to get me to believe about this situation?

6 Bible verses for anxiety attacks

So many of us struggle with fear and anxiety, and sometimes that struggle escalates to a full-blown anxiety attack.  We know that God does not intend for us to live in debilitating fear, but how do we break free?

I’ve personally found much relief by applying these 6 Bible verses:

  • 2 Corinthians 10:5 “we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ”. This means when fear-based, hopeless, defeatist thoughts enter my mind, I need to examine them and ask whether this is something God would say!
  • 1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be sober-minded and alert. The devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.”  This means when I notice my thoughts are becoming hopeless or fearful, I need to recognize the devil is whispering those thoughts to me!  I must take a stand and refuse to align my thoughts with the devil!  Sometimes I even hold out my hand and shout “NO”.
  • Isaiah 41:10 “do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  This means I remind myself that I am not walking through my challenges and worries alone.  Jesus is right there beside me all the time and all the way.
  • Romans 8:28 “And we know that God works all things together for good for those who love him”  This means that I remind myself that even if my worst fear comes to pass, God can still bring something good out of that situation.  That brings me comfort.
  • Psalm 139:16 “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”  This means that when fear-based thoughts enter my mind, I choose to remind myself that God already knows my future and my kid’s future.  Nothing that happens to me or my kids will take God by surprise!  He knows the future.  He’s already there.
  • James 4:8 “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you”  This means I choose to pivot from the fear and turn toward God in a very deliberate way.  When I do that, He comforts me!  “Drawing near to God” could mean everything from turning on a worship song, to reading the Bible, to calling a faith-filled friend, to hugging my actual Bible as I lay down to go to sleep at night.

— or view this topic as a 5 min VIDEO HERE

Breaking free from toxic insecurity

I’m a fairly confident, secure woman….most of the time.  But there are still moments where that awful insecurity shows up.  How about you?  For me, it often relates to the way I look.  Am I really attractive enough to keep my husband’s interest?  Sometimes, I’m insecure in terms of whether friends or even relatives really like me.  Ugh.  I hate feeling so insecure!

So, how do we become more secure?  Well, for me, it means turning to God for my “value”.  I need to remember the only audience that really matters is an audience of one.  God is the one with whom I will spend eternity.  He is the one who created me to be in relationship with Him.  He is really the only one I need to please, and what he says about me is really all that matters.

Meditate on these Scriptures and if you’re anything like me, you will feel a warm blanket of security envelop you.

Psalm 139:13-16

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Zephaniah 3:17

The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you; He will quiet you with his love; He will rejoice over you with singing.                          

Hebrews 13:5

Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you

— or view this topic as a 4 minute VIDEO HERE

Choosing your battles in marriage!

You’ve probably heard the saying, “If mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Although the primary message of this saying is that mom’s attitude affects the whole family, I think a secondary message is just as significant.  If a wife conveys to her husband through her constant complaints and criticisms that she’s not happy, her husband begins to feel like a failure and starts to close his heart to her.

Unfortunately, many wives get stuck in this dynamic.  We tend to point out one disappointment after another to our husbands.  We remind him that we notice he forgot to take out the garbage.  We point out that he hasn’t communicated in our love language recently.  We remind him that he hasn’t played with the kids in a while.  In short, we can’t seem to resist pointing out his flaws.  Adding insult to injury, we then get really upset that he seems emotionally withdrawn from us!

Perhaps it’s time to pick our battles more carefully.  Maybe we should let the small stuff slide.  Proverbs 12:16 says, “Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.”  Let’s ask God to help us affirm what our husbands do right, overlook the small imperfections, and only confront our husbands if they are truly sinning against us and/or the children. EVERYBODY in the family will be happier!

The secret struggle of many Christian women

We’re fearless at Squadron of Sisters!  We don’t shy away from tackling the big, hairy, sensitive issues that impact marriages!! (Get your seatbelt fastened for yet another sensitive topic today!)  A few days ago, I wrote about common signs that a husband might have a serious problem with pornography, but the truth is many women also struggle with porn.  This is not just an issue for men.  If you are one of the many Christian women caught up in viewing pornography, there is hope for you to break free of the hold it has on you.

First, you need to know how important it is to break free from porn.  You probably already know that God tells us to flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), but there is a very practical side to this as well.  Just like men unintentionally condition themselves to only respond to masturbation as they view porn, women can have the same problem.  If you use your hand (or other sex toys) to stimulate yourself while viewing porn, you may start conditioning yourself to only respond to masturbation.  In other words, your husband may no longer be able to bring you to orgasm.

Fortunately, there are some great resources to help women who are struggling with a porn habit.  Here are some websites that may help you:

http://www.dirtygirlsministries.com

http://www.walkinginfreedom.net

http://www.porntopurity.com

A game-changer during marriage conflict!

Conflict and disagreement is inevitable in marriage.  However, conflict need not lead to the formation of two enemy camps!  Here’s something that can greatly change the dynamics during conflict and actually move you closer to resolution.  Pause and ask God to help you see the situation through your husband’s eyes. Ask the Lord to show you what is truly prompting your husband to say what he’s saying or do what he’s doing. Is he stressed?  Is he discouraged?  Is he still affected by emotional wounds from his childhood?  Does he simply have a different idea on how something should be done, and could his idea actually make sense?

When we intentionally pause and try to consider the vantage point of our husbands, we begin to have compassion, or at least an understanding of why he is thinking or acting the way he is. Instead of only focusing on our desires, Philippians 2:4 instructs us, “Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  When you truly stop and try to look at the situation from his perspective, you may see some actual merit to your husband’s point of view!  You might also start to realize how your husband’s past hurts in life (or current fears) are playing a role in his actions or reactions.

When we ask Jesus to help us see the situation through our husband’s eyes, we start to soften and feel compassion.  As we have compassion and understanding, it will be much easier to compromise or find resolution.  Try it!

You must do this during disagreements

It’s vital for you and your spouse to come into agreement on the major issues within your marriage, such as finances, parenting, time spent on recreation, frequency of sex, etc.  You must come into agreement because division in a marriage often leads to the eventual collapse of that marriage.  God’s word even states this.  In Matthew 12:25, Jesus says “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.”

So, what should you do if you and your spouse are consistently divided in a specific area?  Don’t just throw your hands up in the air and give up!  Decide to respectfully, but thoroughly, discuss the issue with your husband.  Ask God for the right timing and ask God to prepare your heart and your husband’s heart for the conversation ahead.  The goal is to reach a compromise that you can both support.  And, if you can’t reach such a compromise on your own, then seek help from a pastor, counselor, or mentor couple.  Do whatever you need to do to come into agreement with your husband on this issue.  It will bring peace to you, your marriage, and your household!

P.S.  If the disagreement stems from your husband wanting to do something immoral, then compromise isn’t the right option!  In that case, you will likely want to see help from a counselor or pastor, and you may have to establish boundaries in the relationship.

Overcoming fear of confronting & setting boundaries

I have seen so many women wither and die emotionally in their marriages because their husband is engaged in disrespectful or sinful behavior and the wife gives up too easily in terms of confrontation.  (I should know because I was one of those women in my first marriage!)  So why would a wife give up?  I believe it boils down to one main fear.

The wife fears that if she continues to confront the issue, or heaven forbid, draw a serious boundary, her husband may decide to leave her…and in her mind, she will lose what’s supposed to make her happy and secure.  But this is faulty thinking!  Your husband is not a reliable source of happiness.  God is the only one we can depend on for unconditional love, compassion, and security.  If your husband were to leave after you draw a line in the sand, I believe God is big enough to take care of you financially.  I know He is.  Do you trust Him?  Do you believe what He says in Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”?

Trust in the One who will never leave your side.  Trust in the One who can provide innovative ways to take care of your financial needs.  Trust in the One who can bring supportive people into your life to stand by you as you draw boundaries.  That One is Jesus.

— or view this topic as a 3 minute VIDEO HERE