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Thinking Well In Marriage

By James Quandt, LCSW
Oak Park, IL
In marriage, what do you think are the most important things to do? Is it reigning in selfish or unhelpful thinking? Or communication? Or, if you are a person of faith, do you think it's praying together?

Over time, more and more research confirms that good thinking about each other helps husband and wife, and that this thinking is shaped a lot by their experiences together.

For example, a couple who usually have conflict when discussing a certain topic (maybe finances, or the kids' schooling) see that topic as a problem. But beyond that, they may begin to see each other as a problem in that area. The impact upon attitude is obvious. (And a hardened attitude is obviously bad news for a marriage--not desirable!)

In contrast, a couple who love dancing together, and do it often, will think well of each other when that comes to mind. Or, a couple who experience deep healing in their bond together, perhaps during some watershed event in their shared life, will likely think thoughts of deep appreciation of each other.

The Bible extols choosing thoughts of whatever is true, honorable, lovely, just, pure—anything at all that is excellent. Well, as some pastors teach, it would not be written there if it came naturally for us, but it also would not be in there if it were impossible to do.

New experiences—good ones—between husband and wife sure help them in the “battles of the mind” that arise. The experiences one has with one's spouse--especially the experience when trying to resolve a problem or hurt--can hugely impact how one thinks toward that spouse. Often, concrete action is needed, which can change the unhealthy pattern in one's marriage. But whether or not one's spouse does their part, it is possible to address one's own thinking. It just helps a lot if some positive experiences are happening! The right counselor just may be able to help that happen.