It’s a very common story. You have an idea of how life will be with your spouse. You imagined a picture-perfect marriage with no conflict, where you would just click together. But once you started living together day in and day out, it’s been all too easy to get hung up on their flaws and notice all the ways you are different.
This happened to Rob and me when we were first married and living in Chicago. Every day, Rob and I would commute home through terrible rush-hour traffic. As Rob would take very sensible and cautious routes home, I began to perceive this as driving like an old man. As the negative thoughts spun out of control, I soon found myself with the false notion that he was not a confident or assertive person. My negative thoughts created a broken sense of reality and were straining our relationship.
At some point, God smacked me upside the head to show me that I was letting negative thinking steal my joy and come between us. It was a lesson I needed to learn as a young wife for sure!
Rob and I aren’t alone. There are so many couples, marriages, and relationships that are impacted when we get stuck in negative thinking. That is why we are so excited to introduce you to our guest, Kendra Burrows. Kendra is a writer, speaker, and personal coach who helps bright, successful overthinkers overcome their negative thoughts using Scripture and the science of how God made us. With her Bible in one hand and her advanced psych degree in the other, Kendra is going to show us how to shift our mindset for stronger relationships with the ones that we love.
Kendra shares with us:
- How everyday thoughts can become negative
- Practical tips for preventing negative thoughts from ruining relationships
- Ways you can practice asking and not assuming in your marriage
- And more!
We hope you enjoy this conversation!
1) Negative thoughts are normal. Did you know that negative thinking actually comes from an instinct to spot and notice danger? God designs us to be on the lookout for things that may harm us or threaten our safety. However, this can turn into destructive negative thinking when we begin to perceive dangers and problems that don’t actually exist. So yes, it is completely normal to have negative thoughts, but if they are left unchecked they can wreak havoc on our relationships.
2) We will find what we are looking for. Our brains have a knack for noticing the things that we focus on. This is how negative thoughts can spiral and become self-fulfilling prophecies. It might start when your spouse doesn’t do the dishes and a negative thought creeps in: It’s like they don’t care about me at all. Do they think I’m their maid? Soon the only things we notice are when they leave socks on the floor, toothpaste on the sink, and when they don’t have time to do the laundry. When we notice ourselves obsessing about a certain thought, we need to practice challenging those thoughts. A good way to do this is to practice gratitude journaling where you note all the things you are grateful for. As you journal and fix your thoughts on what is pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8), you’ll be surprised how much more your brain will begin to find all the good things about your spouse.
3) Ask don’t assume. Negative thinking can be so damaging to our relationships because we are assuming we know the intent of our spouse. One of the ways to combat negative thinking is to practice asking rather than assuming. We can do this by taking the time to check in with our spouse. Ask questions such as:
What did you mean by ___?
Can you give me some context?
My brain is telling me ___, is that accurate?
When we take the time to have honest and open communication with our spouse, even though it may feel awkward at first, we are able to do two things. First, we aren’t leaving the interpretation up to our brains. We cannot know what another person is thinking, feeling, or their intent without asking them. Secondly, we are able to express to our spouse in love and truth (Ephesians 4:15) how their actions are being perceived. The more you do this the more you will be able to assume love about one another’s actions and words.
Meet Our Guest
Kendra Burrows is a writer, speaker, college psychology instructor, and personal coach. She is passionate about helping bright, successful overthinkers overcome their negative thoughts using Scripture and the science of how God made us. Kendra lives in Oregon and loves hydrangeas.