This is the first of twelve “Patterns and Principles” that I emphasize in Becoming An Intentional Family. It is first because it is the building block on which all the others rest. It even comes before #2 which is “You Are Not Alone”. Until you begin to change the way you think you will never change the way you act. That means the results of your life will never change.
This has been the fundamental truth of motivational speakers and writers for ages. Look at the titles of the best selling books on success over the past 100 years and you’ll find the idea of changing the way you think not only the focus of the book but also in the title. (i.e. “The Power of Positive Thinking”, “Thinking for a Change”, and “Think Out of the Box”, just to name a few.)
This is not a new concept! Proverbs 23:7 tells us, “As a man thinks in his heart (his innermost being) so will he become”. That’s the principle set forth in Genesis chapter 1 as well. Ten times we are told in that one chapter that things produce “After their kind”. You don’t plant apples and expect to get oranges. Therefore, you can’t continue to think limiting and negative thoughts and expect to produce unlimited and positive results.
O.K., what does that positive thinking mumbo jumbo have to do with the marriage relationship you ask? EVERYTHING! It’s a spiritual pattern and principle. It does not require you to believe in it for it to work in your life. It is working (either positively or negatively) whether you like it or not!
That’s why we must BECOME INTENTIONAL about our marriage relationship. It will not happen by osmosis! The osmosis approach gets us a marriage relationship that is created by the outside world and not ourselves. (i. e. relationship building habits from Archie Bunker, Al Bundy, Homer Simpson, or Charlie Harper).
The outside world has set marriage up to fail! It teaches us that we are in constant competition. That for me to win you have to lose. The focus is on physical appearance and not about what’s inside a person. We are told for one to be right the other must be wrong. One must be smarter, stronger, more powerful, etc. In our marriage relationship, that is a recipe for failure. Why do we let the outside world dictate to us how we relate to our spouse, our children, our fellow man? It’s crazy!
Mark Twain said, “It’s ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Until Columbus came along, the smartest minds in the scientific world thought the world was flat. Until JFK made his speech in 1961 it was thought that we could not travel safely to and from the moon. Until August of 2006 science taught that Pluto was a planet ( it got voted off the island!)
The most important investment you will make in your lifetime is NOT real estate It is RELATIONSHIPS! With the creator God, with your spouse, your children, your family and others. In that order, the order is of utmost importance.
So here’s the tip for today! Change the way you think about the things you think about and the things you think about will begin to change.
Suggestions for changing the way you think about your marriage relationship:
Instead of “I wish she/he would get his/her act together”, think “I need to get my act together”.
Instead of “My marriage is a legal contract, if he/she breaks it, I’m outa here”, think, “My marriage is a covenant and I’m committed to the promises I made to my spouse for better or worse” (this doesn’t mean you have to put up with abuse!)
Instead of “I’ll make some changes if he/she will make some changes first”, think, “I’ll go first because it’s the right thing to do and it will set the tone for our future relationship”.
Instead of “I wish I had a magic wand to wave and change my marriage relationship right now” think, “I’ll begin to make these changes and continue because I know that permanent positive change takes time and happens in a ‘two steps forward & one step back’ manner.
Before you start the “you’re just trying to teach me to manipulate myself and my mate” argument, let me ask you one question. If you won the one hundred million dollar lottery and discovered that I had tricked you into buying the ticket, would you give the money back?
Why not start today to Change the way you think about the things you think about?