Sheila Wray Gregoire is an author, blogger
and inspirational speaker. Read more of
these columns at www.faithtoday.ca/MessyFaith.
I married my one true love. After a childhood full of rejection and teenage years filled with em- barrassing relationships, I
found someone who “got” me. We
laughed together. We led a youth
group together. We were kindred
spirits. I was certain he would be
the one who would make me happy
for the rest of my life.
Then we walked down the aisle.
Suddenly this man who had understood me and completed me and
loved me had actual expectations
and demands – expectations that
clashed with my reality.
Most of our problems were with
sex. The more Keith wanted it, the
more I felt he only loved me for
what I could do for him. So I would
pray, “God, please help him see
how much he’s hurting me. Help
him just to love me again.”
I did everything I felt the Church
told me to do. I prayed. I cast my
cares on God. I drew close to the
Lord. Yet my prayers didn’t work.
Keith still got grumpy when I would
respond negatively to his friskiness.
After I had prayed for two exhausting years that Keith would
start caring about me, God put a
thought into my head. Do you believe the only one who can fix this
relationship is Keith? Don’t you have
something to do with it? I vehemently
argued with myself – and with God
– about why changing was impossible. Even if we only considered
sex, how was I supposed to enjoy
something so awkward?
Then another thought hit me
even harder. If God says sex is good,
and the whole world says sex is good,
maybe you should start figuring out
how to make sex good.
I was stunned. If that thought
was right, then the responsibility
fell on me to do something about
my struggle. I had to stop thinking
sex was distasteful and start think-
ing, Sex is great – I just don’t have it
all figured out yet. The problem may
have started in the bedroom, but it
wasn’t a problem with sex. It was a
problem with how I was thinking.
For the last ten years I’ve been
heavily involved in marriage ministry, speaking at marriage conferences, managing a huge marriage
blog, and writing marriage books.
And the more I talk to couples, the
more I find that most problems
start with faulty thinking.
Here’s one you’ll recognize. “Jesus
doesn’t want us taking offence. So if
your spouse does something that
annoys you, let it go. Forgive as God
forgave you!” We think conflict is
bad, and so we become peacekeep-ers, trying to keep the lid on any
simmering bad feelings.
But what if God called us to be
peacemakers rather than peace-
keepers What if the route to peace
sometimes runs through conflict as
we deal openly with our issues?
Or if you think the most important marriage lesson in Scripture is
“God hates divorce,” then you
might think it’s more important to
God that you not rock the boat. But
what if God wants us to “spur each
other on to love and good deeds,”
even if that means confronting sin
rather than doing nothing and enabling it?
In my new book 9 Thoughts That
Can Change Your Marriage: Because
a Great Relationship Doesn’t Happen
by Accident (WaterBrook Press,
2015), I look at some specific
thought patterns that can stop us
from having the intimate, thriving
marriages God wants from us. Most
faulty thinking in marriage has one
thing in common – it leaves the
person stuck because change seems
to be up to God or up to your spouse.
I believed my marriage couldn’t get
better until Keith changed, but I
had no control over that.
But maybe what’s holding you
back from real intimacy isn’t a problem with your spouse. It’s a problem
with what you believe about marriage, about God or about conflict.
The Church hasn’t always given
the best marriage advice. Too often
we’ve focused on avoiding conflict
or preserving gender roles rather
than pursuing authenticity and
holiness before God. There aren’t
shortcuts to truth. And there aren’t
shortcuts to a good marriage either.
But when we change our thinking,
we can start to change everything
else too. /FT
Most faulty thinking in marriage has one
thing in common – change seems to be
up to God or up to your spouse.
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE
Is your thinking holding you back?
Change your thinking. Change your marriage.