The following is an overview of a conversation between Roy Baldwin and pastor Willie Batson, founder and lead coach of W.C.Batson Coaching Services, as part of a series on Marriage. In this episode, the two discuss what it means to have a Marriage Mindset, what the Bible has to say about it, and define what a healthy growth mindset and an unhealthy fixed mindset looks like.
“So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessings at the appropriate time.”Galatians 6:9
Even before the strenuous pandemic that forced us to stay close to each other 24/7, marriage was at times hard and discouraging. It’s why throughout this series we have been constantly pointing back to Galatians 6:9 – Keep at it! Do not be discouraged when times become hard, love your spouse and strive to continue working on and growing your relationship. That is what we will be talking about in this conversation as we dive into our marriage mindset, and figure out the answer to WHY we do WHAT we do.
Our behavior in marriage is influenced by our Mindsets.
Mindsets are the assumptions and expectations we have for ourselves and others. These attitudes guide our behavior and influence our response to daily events. Your mindset will affect how you feel about something, and even how well you do at something.
According to Dr. Emerson Eggerich, people tend to hold one of two basic types of mindsets:
- Fixed: A fixed mindset is one that is set in place, with the person feeling that there is no need for anything to change, or work towards changing. They will say that “I really don’t have to work hard at bettering myself.” These types of people to blame others outside of themselves and flee when troubles and challenges arise.
This is a very Unhealthy mindset to adopt.
- Growth: A growth mindset is one that is always looking to improve and change, and put the effort in to make things work out. The person with this mindset will say that they, “must work at being better”. A growth centered person will grow through pain and challenge.
It certainly isn’t the easiest path, but it IS the Healthiest.
So where do our mindsets and attitudes come from?
Our mindsets actually stem from our Belief. Our belief about something is so powerful that it can change our reality: it can make something appear to be different than it really is. Belief does not require something to be true, only requiring us to believe that it is true.
When something doesn’t line up with our belief system, we resist it, no matter what we are told/given evidence for.
What does the Bible say about Mindsets?
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.Romans 12:2
This verse is telling us to allow God to change the way we think, and that opening up our perspective not only allows us to change our perspective, but to be transformed. Its why reading God’s word and letting what He has to say resonate within us is so important.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.Colossians 3:2
Our primary focus is not to be the things of this earth. We instead need to focus our belief on the God of the Bible. Our lives/marriages will be better off, and stronger, in a unity of belief.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.Philippians 4:8
Do you see your spouse in this way? Do you see them as true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable? You should strive to fix your thoughts on them in this way, even if there are times when you don’t want to. It’s why we need to constantly be checking our thoughts, and realign them if they start to stray away from this view of our spouse.
As you go through this list and identify some of these places where you struggle, be open and honest with yourself, and learn to replace these with a Growth Mindset.
(The following is material based on the work of Robert Leahy, PhD and Director/Contributor to the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy)
- Labeling — You attribute a negative personality trait to your partner, leading you to believe that he or she can never change. As an alternative, rather than label your spouse, you can look for “variability” in his/her behavior.
- Fortune-telling — You forecast the future and predict that things will never get better, leaving you feeling helpless and hopeless. An alternative to this is to look back at positive experiences that you have to challenge your idea that nothing will improve.
- Mind-reading — You interpret your spouse’s motivations as hostile or selfish on the basis of very little evidence. Rather than engaging in mind-reading, you can ask your spouse what he/she meant or how he/she is feeling. Sometimes it’s beneficial to give your spouse the benefit of the doubt.
- Catastrophic Thinking — You treat conflict or problems as if they indicate that the world has ended or that your marriage is a disaster. A better way of looking at this is that all couples face problems — some of them quite upsetting. Rather than look at an obstacle or a problem as “terrible,” you might validate that it is difficult for both of you, but that it is also an opportunity to learn new skills in communicating and interacting — a growth mindset.
- Emotional Reasoning — You feel depressed and anxious, and you conclude that your emotions indicate that your marriage is a failure. A better way of looking at your emotions is that your feelings may go up and down, depending on what you and your spouse are doing. Emotions are changeable and don’t always tell you about how good things can be.
- All-or-Nothing Thinking — You describe your interactions as being all good or all bad without examining the possibility that some experiences with your partner are positive. Whenever you use the words “always” and “never,” try assuming that you are wrong. The best way to test out your distorted and biased negative thinking is to look at the facts. Maybe the facts aren’t as terrible as they seem to be. Remember, mindsets are influenced by our beliefs.
- Shoulds — You have a list of “commandments” about your relationship and condemn yourself or your spouse for not living up to your “should.“ Rather than talk about the way things “should” be, you might consider how you can make things better. Replace your shoulds with “how to” and “let’s try.”
- Personalizing — You attribute your spouse’s moods and behavior to something about yourself, or you take all the blame for the problems. It’s almost never all about one person; it takes two to tango and two to be miserable.
- Perfectionism — You hold up a standard for a relationship that is unrealistically high and then measure your relationship by this standard. No relationship is perfect — and no relationship needs to be perfect.
- Blaming — You believe that all the problems in the relationship are caused by your spouse. There is a grain of truth in almost any negative thought, but blaming your spouse will make you feel helpless and trapped. A better way of approaching this is to take a “Let’s fix it together” approach. You can validate each other, share responsibility for the problems, plan to catch each other being good, reward each other, plan positives together, and accept some differences.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.Philippians 2:5 (NIV)