I can tend to see the negative in things and I don’t like that about myself, so I’m working on it. The cool thing is it’s amazing how such a simple change can also be so profound.
In my first marriage, for example, I HATED that the bed wasn’t made. I repeated this phrase thousands of times in the first twelve or so years of marriage: “The last person in the bed makes the bed,” I’d say bitterly and under my breath while angrily making the bed (as the non-last person to get out of the bed).
But who ever came up with that? I said it as if it were in Genesis or as if our wedding officiant tossed that into our vows. I said it and believed it as if it were truth with a capital T.
Until one day, when I said to myself, while angrily making the bed, “Wait, who told you ‘the last person in the bed makes the bed’?”
And I answered myself, “I guess I just made it up.”
Then I replied, “Well, what if we changed it to ‘the person who wants the bed made makes the bed’?”
And so I did.
From that day on, I changed that one sentence and that one sentence changed my attitude completely around and I never again made my bed angrily, hand to Jesus.
Let’s bring it to the present, because not all of my I’m-a-selfish-person anecdotes are from my first marriage, let’s be honest. The other day, my sweet husband was out in the garage working on a project. And I was in the house reading on the couch and I was missing him. My first brief thought was a whiny one, “He was just at work all day. Why isn’t he in here with me?”
But then, I stopped myself, and I walked over to my gratitude jar and picked up a piece of paper and wrote, “I’m grateful for the sound of hammering coming from the garage because that means a, I have a sweet husband who loves me, b, he’s close enough if I need him, c, he’s using his gift of creativity to make something cool, and d, he’s providing for me.”
Then when my husband came in, I read him that little gratitude list. And he said it was sweet and he kissed me.
See what happened there?
I could’ve stewed on that first thought, and it could have carried over to when my husband walked in, and I could have snapped at him or made him feel guilty, or just sulked and tanked our evening over nothing.
But instead, I changed one thought that changed my attitude that kept our evening intact and sweet.
We have so much more power over our thoughts than we give ourselves credit for, girls. And when we control our thoughts, we control our attitudes, which controls our words and our actions, which builds up or tears down people and relationships.
Next time a snarky thought crosses your mind, stop yourself and think of a way to reframe it. It may not work every time, and it may not fit every situation. But sometimes, sometimes…letting something little go is all it takes to save the day.
If you're struggling in your marriage, I have several resources for you:
Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage and Second Time Around: Some Thoughts on Remarriage can both be found here.
If you're in need of a recharge, consider taking my four-week e-course Marriage Rescue.