“Think About What Is Worthy of Praise … Not What Is Worthy of Driving You Crazy”
Have you ever found yourself discontented or frustrated by something your spouse is doing – or not doing? OK, there’s probably no need to ask! Here’s the better question: how did you handle it? Because following the biblical prescription for handling those feelings is one of the most important keys to having an abundant, happy marriage.
Guys, say you’ve been exhausting yourself by working extra hours all weekend and ask your wife to record the game so you can watch it as soon as you get home. Even though you asked several times, you arrive only to discover that she completely forgot about it.
You’re angry, but even as the smoke starts billowing out of your ears, you remember: this is the same woman who always cooks you dinner, makes sure the kids’ homework is done, stays on top of the laundry…
The more you think about it, the more you realize what a minor issue the game is. You actually have a pretty amazing wife.
What just happened? You were thinking on what was worthy of praise, rather than what was worthy of driving you crazy. This is what the happiest couples do. They don’t simply “exercise control” over the nasty feelings – they learn how to change those feelings and talk themselves out of being mad! In fact, two-thirds of these couples said it becomes such a habit that they usually stop that negative train of thought before they get too bothered to begin with.
It turns out, our feelings actually follow our actions, not the other way around. If we want to feel better, happier, more content we can refuse to dwell on our negative feelings and rehearse the positive that is always there somewhere. (Even if the steam coming out of our ears makes it difficult to remember it sometimes!)
In fact, let’s be honest: Either direction our thoughts go (the negative or the positive) is a choice, right? And we’re told which choice to make: “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.… And the God of peace will be with you.”
God isn’t just trying to distract us from the annoyances of life. He created us with the ability to change our feelings by willfully changing our minds. So the next time you’re frustrated with your mate, refuse to let those feelings control you and think about whatever is praiseworthy about your spouse instead. You’ll be amazed at how your feelings change!
Dear Lord, help me learn how to have the attitude of Jesus by rejoicing in all things. Forgive me for sometimes letting negative, discontent or suspicious feelings take root and fester. Open my eyes to the things that my spouse does that are lovely, admirable and worthy of praise, and help me focus on those, for my good and your glory. Amen.