Dealing With Disappointments in Marriage
by Pamela Crosby
Did you know that you could not have a positive life unless your mind and thoughts are positive? Negative thoughts do not produce a positive relationship, marriage or life. Negative thoughts spread into our lives, relationships, and home atmosphere destroying joy like a cancer. Our thoughts can poison a day before it has a chance to begin.
I remember so many days when I would be at home taking care of the daily duties, one of which was doing laundry and I would find that one pair of underwear still setting on the floor two inches from the clothes hamper. That would start a one-way conversation that would look something like this.
How could anyone walk by a pair of their own underwear on the floor?
Does he expect me to pick it up?
He just doesn’t appreciate what I do for him all day long while he gets to be around adult human beings.
I would expect that he would realize my life is about more than picking up after him.
Those words would form a mood for the day as they would go around and around in my head, creeping down into my heart and creating negative moments. Also, a huge chasm of resentfulness would grow between us, and the worst part was, more often than not my husband wasn’t even aware it was there. I struggled with a growing list of expectations and soon I realized that it would take a super-hero to accomplish them. I needed to gain control of my thought life and renew my mind, but where do I start?
Some women have put together a First Aid kit that is often in a medicine cabinet, where everything you need for an emergency is neatly packed. Mine became a “First Thoughts Kit”, neatly packed with everything I knew I needed to maintain a healthy mind-set (we’ll discover the contents later in this chapter).
The “Y” Factor
Have you ever woken up and first thing in the morning you just feel sad? For no apparent reason. The sun is coming up, everyone is getting ready for their day, even all the underwear is in its proper place! But, you still feel this sadness, like a heavy cloak around your shoulders.
One particular morning a similar sense of sadness began to come over me and I couldn’t put my finger on what the cause might be. I sat to have my morning “quiet time” with the Lord and was distracted by this sadness. I began to consider how many times I had struggled with this unknown-sadness, including how much time was being wasted by living within the emotion.
Then the thought hit me, You can choose not to feel sad.
What? Is that possible? I wondered. An emotion can come or go via choice? Really?
In those moments the realization that emotions had been driving me instead of me driving my emotions became a transforming awakening itself.
My husband has often repeated the quote by Martin Luther, “You can’t keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can prevent it from making a nest in your hair.” In other words, I can’t keep all negative emotions and even sometimes the troubling thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere, but I can keep them from controlling my day, my mind and my speech.
Then immediately I then pictured a “Y.”
Yes, you got that right; just like the letter. But it wasn’t a letter per-se; it was more like a pathway with a fork in the road and my mind could choose which direction it would go in.
For example, there are those moments we are confronted with the power of a disappointment in something or someone and that feeling begins to overwhelm our thoughts and attitude. It pours over us seizing our mind’s attention and our mood. It is as though the “Y” has become a road to travel on, providing a choice of which direction to go. Standing on the stem of the “Y” facing the upper portion that looks like “V” indicates that a decision must be made; the left side represents the emotional journey and the right side represents taking control, a disciplined journey. I knew if I allowed my thoughts and emotions to travel down the emotional “path”, the day would become full of negative thoughts.
It is interesting how often we think moving with those negatives emotions will bring comfort or bring us to a place of rest for our heavy souls. After all I’m just being true to my feelings, right? I am just trying to keep it real, correct?
Often, just the opposite is true. Allowing our mind to be entertained with the negative thoughts like I failed again or He doesn’t value my opinion or Why isn’t our marriage like theirs, not only doesn’t bring the soul comfort, but it leaves me realizing at the end of the day I don’t even like who I am. The emotion has controlled my whole day, hijacked my better senses, kept me from my friendships and blinded me to what other’s need.
But, the whole time there was another road to choose from, on the right hand-side of the “Y”. While that side would take more discipline of the heart and mind, I would certainly end up liking who I was at the end of the day, and THAT was important. Granted, the disciplined path was often the more difficult path, endeavoring to conquer unhealthy thinking patterns and discovering ways of escape when life didn’t look the way I had hoped. Without the discipline, my thoughts would too often become powerful distractions.
Facing the Y Factor and making the right choice is a key to joy in your life, your marriage, and your home. It involves doing something C.S. Lewis described as a characteristic of faith – learning to “tell your emotions where to get off.” As we said earlier in the book, emotions are the colors of the soul. They can add much to it, but without the discipline of wisdom and decision-making, they can absolutely undermine your joy, your life and your family life.
ROBERT and PAMELA CROSBY are the Co-founders of Teaming Life, investing their lives in men and women who desire to live as Teaming Couples, Teaming Families and equipping leaders to build strong Teams in the Church and Marketplace. Robert’s works include The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration and The One Jesus Loves. Together they have written, The Will of a Man and the Way of a Woman, recently released, from which this post is adapted.