I LIKE PEOPLE. I DO.
In fact, my wife, Nancie, said to me once, “I love this about you, but I think you even like people most people don’t.” But even I have my limits. There is one person who has always been in my life, who can push my buttons now, but used to drive me crazy all day every day. Who is this guy? This guy is me. I used to really struggle with how I think about myself. In fact, I’ve named the speaker of these negative thoughts in my mind, Fred. Fred in my head. And Fred is a jerk. I have found many people have their own Fred in their heads. Do you? If so, does he criticize your appearance, your parenting, your intelligence, your social skills, your work, etc.? Or maybe your Fred is a different kind of jerk. Maybe he tells you, you are the hero of every story, even stories where you aren’t.
So, what does this have to do with marriage?
What you think about yourself radically determines how your spouse experiences you—and that radically affects your marriage.
Fred’s words can make you nervous, anxious, insecure, worried, frustrated, and lonely—which aren’t exactly adjectives that describe a spouse ready to love and serve, or even able to receive love, for that matter. Let me give you a couple of examples of how Fred works:
- Imagine you see a social media post of a friend from high school. Fred compares your life to theirs and declares you the loser. After hearing that, now imagine your spouse walking in to discuss the credit card bill. Fred just set up that conversation to lose.
- Imagine driving home from work while Fred tells you you’re lousy at your job and that you are probably going to be out of work soon. Now imagine walking through the door and seeing your spouse. Do you think you will be excited to see your spouse? Ready to serve them? Fred has foiled your evening.
When we listen to Fred, it’s painful. This pain can make us selfish, which means our spouse is living with someone who is, at least at times, selfish. For some of us, the fears Fred whispers can make us defensive. For others, his whispers lead us to escape physically or emotionally. For others, his whispers lead us to be more controlling. In all of those scenarios, our spouse misses out on living with someone who is loved—secure in a love that never, no matter what, changes.
But, the most concerning thing about Fred is that he can become louder than the voice of God.
But there is a massive amount of hope. You don’t have to listen to Fred, you can change your mind. It is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself and, ultimately, my marriage.
So, right now, I want you to imagine your Fred has just said something nasty to you. Now take Fred by the earlobe and drag him to the side and say, “I’m turning you off, and I’m hearing from someone else.”
Now take a deep breath and let this wash over you:
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15 NIV
Now imagine a loving parent taking your face in their hands, looking you in the eye and saying, “Those negative thoughts, those aren’t from Me. You are not fill-in-the-blank. Those are lies. You don’t have to be afraid. I’ve called you by name, you are my child. Don’t miss Me.”
When we follow Jesus, when we believe we are who God says we are, we can put the voices that say otherwise where they belong.
So, I want to give you one intentional thought of the five I unpack in my book, “Us In Mind, How Changing Your Thoughts Can Change Your Marriage.”
INTENTIONAL THOUGHT #1: Remember Who I am
You can choose to remember to say to your Fred, anytime you have a hard time believing the truth: “Remember who I am.” When we do, there’s an impact. It soothes. It matters to our souls, our brains, and our bodies. We begin reflecting more of what God is like. We become more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. Who doesn’t want that for themselves—and who doesn’t want that in a spouse and for their spouse?
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