A woman walking up a long flight of concrete steps.

Baby Steps to “Take Your Thoughts Captive for Christ”

At any point in the process of the negative-thought-death-spiral, I can choose to get off of the ride if I am willing to turn to Jesus and do things His way.

What He wants me to do feels unnatural and awkward, at first. But it is LIFE-GIVING.

Let’s see how I might handle a triggering issue at different stages of this journey:

My husband doesn’t do something I want him to do. How will I respond?

Early in the Journey

In the beginning, it felt like major emotional and spiritual contortion to learn to take my thoughts captive for Christ.

Often I didn’t realize what I was doing until I was already spiraling. So I would go to my journal and write what I was thinking and pray to God and ask Him to help me. I worked through all of my negative thoughts and compared them to truth and God’s Word.

Whenever I got upset, I learned to go to God, prayer, my journal, and my Bible before trying to talk to Greg. This kept me from making a LOT of mistakes!

Note – My husband was not abusing me and my children and I were never in any kind of danger. If wives are dealing with very serious issues, please see the notes at the bottom of the post.

My process looked something like:

  • I feel hurt because Greg didn’t do X.
  • I have some expectations that are super important to me, and when they aren’t met, I get really upset.
    • Lord, I wonder if these expectations could be idols for me?
    • Do I make Greg’s attention, affection, time, gifts, words, etc… the most important things in my life?
    • Do I need to lay down some of my expectations and die to myself?
    • Help me find my contentment and security in You alone whether Greg does everything I want him to or not.
  • I expected him to do this for me and I feel unloved because he didn’t do it. So I feel sad. It is okay to feel sad. But I want to examine what is behind my feelings. I know I can’t always trust them.
  • When is my period due? PMS definitely makes me feel upset with Greg a lot more easily than normal. So I need to consider that. Am I exhausted, is my blood sugar low? Is my flesh really weak right now? Could that be fueling some of my negative emotions?
  • I want to try to control him and make him do what I want. But I know that will only repel him and it won’t increase our connection. It wouldn’t honor God for me to act that way, either.
  • Greg has the right to have free-will just like I do. Thank you, Lord, that we each have free-will because real love can’t exist without it. I don’t want him to be a robot. I don’t get to take away his choice. I am responsible for how I respond after he makes his choice. I can’t force him to do what I want him to do.
  • I want to appreciate the things he wants to do for me, even the things I usually don’t notice. I choose to receive love from him in the way he shows it. Sometimes he shows love to me in ways I wouldn’t have asked for, but they are still valid ways of showing love.
  • I am tempted to think that he doesn’t love me in this moment. But the truth is I don’t actually know his motives. I have no evidence that he was purposely trying to hurt me. Satan would really love for me to assume the worst like I have so many times in the past. But now I know that every time I assumed the worst about Greg for over 14 years, I was wrong. Way wrong.
  • There is still a lot about his perspective, masculinity, and his personality I don’t fully understand. Maybe this issue falls into that realm. I might go read a book to help me better understand men in general later today.
  • There is a lot of evidence that Greg does love me. (What you write here will be different, that is okay!)
    • He went to the store for me when I was sick last week.
    • He is remodeling the house to make a dream home for me to enjoy.
    • He comes home to me every day.
    • He has been faithful to me.
    • He eats with us as a family every night.
    • He takes us to church every Sunday and Wednesday night.
    • He took the trash out for me last night when I asked him for help.
  • I am tempted to go down that negative spiral of insecurity, worry, resentment, and freaking out. That feels familiar and comfortable. But it is not worth it. I resist Satan’s voice and submit myself to the Lordship of Jesus. I don’t know best. Jesus does know best.
  • If I run with this assumption, I will probably be wrong and end up hurting Greg, hurting myself, and grieving the Lord’s heart.
  • I can’t afford any bitterness in my heart or thoughts. Lord, I repent for every bitter thought in my heart against Greg. Bitterness can destroy our marriage and turn me into a cold, hateful woman I don’t want to be.
  • I choose to forgive him for not doing what I wanted him to do. I trust You will help me handle it rightly if I discover that he really was trying to be unloving.
  • I am completely loved and accepted by Jesus. He is always faithful to me and will never leave me or forsake me.
  • I receive the promise that God will use all things in my life, including this, to help make me more like Jesus. Help me learn anything You want me to learn through this.
  • I’m going to focus on X verse about grace, love, respect, or bitterness and memorize it.
  • I’m going to read a chapter in the Bible, maybe in Psalms in a few minutes.
  • I choose to find my security in Jesus and His love. I choose to rest in Him and His truth.
  • I choose to take my thoughts captive for Christ and not let the enemy have access to my mind and heart. I will not let him use my thoughts and words to attack and accuse my husband.
  • I understand that Greg is not perfect. I’m not either. We will both need grace, at times. I choose to give him grace now.
  • I choose to assume the best about Greg. I don’t even know that he did anything wrong. I am not his judge, jury, and executioner.
  • Greg is not my enemy. We are teammates.
  • I’ll write out a list of things I respect about Greg. (What you write about your husband may be different, that is totally fine. Each personality and each person has their own strengths and weaknesses.)
    • He is really intelligent.
    • He’s patient and calm.
    • He is great with the kids and their homework.
    • He tries to take my feelings into consideration.
    • He generally cares about what is best for me.
    • He is responsible with money.
    • He is a good provider.
    • He treats his family and my family well.
    • He doesn’t pressure me or have a critical spirit.
    • He doesn’t try to control me.
    • He doesn’t yell.
  • Lord, is there something I could do to bless Greg today? Maybe he is stressed or having a bad day.
  • I’m going to sing some praise songs to Jesus now.

Now

I already know Greg’s heart and that his motives toward me are good. I have already laid down my unbiblical and unrealistic expectations. I accept Greg’s personality and how different he is from me.

My thought-process is streamlined to this:

  • Hmm… I had hoped Greg would do X for me.
  • Looks like he didn’t get a chance to do it. There’s probably a good reason for that.
  • I’m going to keep enjoying my day. No need to take offense. I know he loves me.

Then I move on.

Depending on what it is, I may ask about it again, or I may let it go.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

James 4:7-10

This Approach Brings Peace!

Eventually, I got to taste how awesome it is not to have those negative, toxic thoughts. And then I realized how much damage the negative thoughts do and that if I savor them and feed them I can cause days, weeks, or months of damage to myself and my marriage. Now I know the price is way too high.

Now, because I invite the Holy Spirit to have control and because I have made taking my thoughts captive for Christ a consistent habit, I usually don’t have those old disrespectful, bitter thoughts.

At first, I couldn’t catch the wrong thoughts until I had been dwelling on them for a while. But, eventually, God helped me catch things earlier and earlier. Now, I can often recognize a toxic thought when it is still a temptation and invite God to help me shoot it down before I let it in the door of my mind.

If a tempting thought comes, I say, “Nope! I can’t afford to go there. I never want to be in that awful place again!” I recognize it is from the enemy and it is deadly. I seek to immediately reject it, replacing it with truth, love, and good things.


I usually recognize the enemy’s voice now and the creepy feeling that comes along with it. It isn’t charming anymore. It is deadly-sounding. I know where that voice wants to take me. I know that he wants to trap me back in that awful prison. And I never want to go there again!

So I go running back to Jesus, my Good Shepherd, and only want to listen to and obey His voice.

NOTE – If your husband is actually sinning against you in some way, there are God-honoring ways to address that. If you are dealing with extreme issues in your marriage (adultery, addictions, abuse, uncontrolled mental health issues, etc…) please reach out to a trusted counselor, pastor, doctor, or the police for help, depending on your needs.

Taking our thoughts captive for Christ doesn’t mean we have to just sit and be sinned against or abused. In this post, I talk about learning how to stop trying to control my husband and how not to automatically assume he has evil motives when I don’t know that is true. In my case, I always knew I was safe with my husband and that he had never tried to hurt me. If your husband really does have unloving or evil motives and you are not safe, please don’t ignore that truth, but seek appropriate outside help.

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29 thoughts to “Baby Steps to “Take Your Thoughts Captive for Christ””

  1. Bless you for your heart for women and for God and for all your sound godly advice, you have helped saved many marriages, including mine (by the grace of God). I appreciate and love you!

  2. What if Greg never ever said “I love you” or words similarly affectionate?
    What if you asked him for something or to do something and he never did it (consistently)?

    1. C,

      Greg was not super big on emotional, affectionate words even before we got married. But over the 14 years where I became so dominating and he shut down, he essentially stopped saying affectionate things. He is a very introverted guy who tends to show love through acts of service.

      I used to really push him to say elaborate words of love and affection. But now I don’t push him at all. I am able to see the way he shows love for me and receive it that way. If he does share words like, “I love you,” it’s great. But I know now that, to him, what he does for me is a lot more important than words.

      He also doesn’t give many compliments. I used to be upset about that. But then I realized he doesn’t insult me or do much criticizing either. He’s just not a big words guy. I also noticed that some guys who give lots of amazing compliments also tend to give a lot of criticism, as well. There are advantages and disadvantages to every man’s personality.

      As far as if he didn’t do something I wanted him to do, it depends what it is. For example, I have now accepted that Greg doesn’t want to dance. Ever. So I don’t ask him anymore. And he probably isn’t going to write long, mushy emails or love letters. I’m okay with that because now I understand his heart.

      If he refused to work when he really could or if he was cheating on me or if he was being super irresponsible or hateful, I would have to approach those kinds of things differently.

      This morning, he ordered groceries from the store for us. I used to do the shopping but now he is doing the online stuff. I didn’t even ask him to do that! And he and the kids are bringing in the groceries for me without me asking. He is in the middle of tearing out the old deck and has an order coming from Lowe’s today so he can build us a new deck that we can all enjoy.

      He cuddles with me and plays with my hair every night. He goes under the house to fix the sewer line if it bursts. He fixes the sump pump when it quits working every year or two. He remodeled our 1965-era house with his dad to make a dream house for me to enjoy. He helps the kids with their math homework, which I definitely no longer have the mental energy to do. He goes on walks with me now, which I enjoy greatly.

      He is super responsible with money and has become a wonderful leader. He takes my feelings into account and cares very much about doing what is best for all of us.

      A lot of men feel that showing love in practical ways is much more important than speaking words of love that might be empty. I can understand that perspective now and choose to appreciate the many things he does for me and I feel very loved and cherished every day now even if he doesn’t use all the romantic words.

      Much love!

      1. C,

        PS, when I talk about what Greg does for me now, some of that he did back 14 years ago, too. The remodeling and stuff. He took care of the kids when I worked. He helped me with my car or went to the store if I was sick. He wasn’t doing all the things then that he does for me now.

        As I changed and as he healed, things began to slowly improve over time. But I didn’t try to make him change. And I see every act of love and service for me now as romantic and seek to appreciate it deeply.

      2. Those sound like he still makes his feelings known, even without words. I mean, what about if he didn’t do ANY of those things?

        1. C,

          If he never says or does anything at all to show love, there may be some problems going on. Now the important thing is to have the wisdom and discernment from God to understand what problems there may be on your end, what problems are on his end, and how to best approach him.

          I have a post about if your husband seems not to care that may be a blessing.
          And a post about influencing an unbelieving husband for Christ.

          Would you like for me to email you privately?

          <3

        2. C.,

          When I first started this journey, Greg was super shut down. He didn’t speak to me unless he had to. He didn’t want to be in the same room with me. He didn’t want to touch me. He didn’t want to listen to anything I wanted to tell him.

          I didn’t think he loved me in 2008. He was still there. He was working on the house. But I was very unsure that things would ever improve. In our case, there was a lot I was able to do on my end. Greg actually did still love me, but was very wounded by the way I had treated him.

          Now my husband definitely shows love, even though it isn’t usually with words. He is a very different man now than he was in 2008. Back then, he was just a shell of himself.

          Obviously, each situation has its own issues and nuances.

          I have a number of resources that may be a blessing, depending on the core issues.

          Praying for God’s healing for you both!

          <3

  3. If my husband did not respond to me the way that I wanted consistently, I would take a long hard look at myself to see why he isn’t. I would pray that God would reveal how I could overcome focusing on my husband’s faults and start focusing on overcoming mine. I would pray not to grow weary of doing good for my husband no matter what because my love for him is to be unconditional. God always meets all of my needs so that when my husband falls short, I am not looking to him to satisfy me.

    1. jeannieremyministries,

      Sometimes, he didn’t do things in the past because I was very demanding. Sometimes my expectations were seriously not biblical because I was idolizing him.

      Other times, he had a different time table.

      It’s a good idea to check ourselves and our motives if we see this is a consistent issue.
      – Am I being disrespectful?
      – Are my motives honorable?
      – Am I approaching him in a repelling kind of way?

      When I began my journey to stop controlling and disrespecting my husband, he was very wounded. I realized I had pressured, pushed, and steamrolled him for so long, that he needed a bit of time and space to heal. So for a while, I tried not to ask for much at all.

      Now I can and do ask for things but I ask in a very different way. And I can be content even if he doesn’t do what I would like.

      Obviously, it may depend on the issue exactly how a godly wife would handle a specific situation. But as our husbands see we are not trying to control them, usurp them, or take over, they tend to be more open to doing things we will appreciate. Even so, I don’t try to control him or force an outcome anymore like I used to. His decisions are up to him, then I invite God show me how best to respond on my end.

      Thank you so much for sharing, Jeannie!

  4. Do you have suggestions for movies or documentaries that has no wickedness? I believe that we as Christian’s should not watch any wicked movies at all and my husband likes to watch still, he doesn’t push it much but it hurts me because I know he was watches with his fellow unbeliever friends. He said that he misses the time to enjoy to watch with me though.

    1. Shirley,

      It is VERY difficult to find something that has absolutely no wickedness. Even Christian movies often have people who are sinning who then come to see their sin and repent and experience the power of God to change them. The Bible is full of stories of the wickedness of people, too. Even the story of Jesus involves wretched sinners full of pride, self-righteousness, and blasphemy who murdered the very Son of God.

      Some movies are better than others. And some have wickedness but there is a purpose and they point to holiness and godliness.

      What it sounds like is that you and your husband have different personal convictions about what movies are appropriate for believers in Christ to watch.

      Every believer has his/her line to draw about where they feel comfortable on this issue. Some believe it is best not to watch anything at all. Some watch things with way too much evil. Others try to find a balance. But there probably isn’t a perfect answer.

      I’m glad you want to honor the Lord in what you watch. That is awesome.

      But I don’t know of any movie that has zero of all the possible sins: pride, self-righteousness, selfishness, iffy language, bitterness, unforgiveness, idolatry, false teaching, paganism, lust, sexual immorality, violence, stealing, rage, killing, unbelief in God, lack of love, disrespect for authority, etc… the list goes on and on.

      My encouragement would be to seek to be wise and to make sure that if you watch something that has sin in it, that there is a purpose for it and it points to the Lord or to biblical principles. Or that you can avoid absorbing the things that don’t honor the Lord. Like if you watch a documentary and they talk about evolution, you can tell your children that God created the earth, it was not an accident and you can correct the false teaching. There are some lines you may just not want to cross. That will be up to you.

      For example, we watched Break Through, as a family a few weeks ago. A true story about a 15 year old boy who fell through the ice on a pond and was dead. His mom prayed in the ER for him. There were multiple miracles in this movie. It was AMAZING! But the mom had some serious pride, control, and self-righteousness issues in the beginning. And the boy was also acting in defiance of adults and authority in the beginning. Those things were wicked things, but the story ended up glorifying God.

      Much love!

  5. I am sorry I was not clear about my question but I am talking about worldly movies where sexual parts, sleeping before married etc also fornication etc. I understand that even bible has wickedness, the problem I HV is my husband has different beliefs about marriage, he believed in polygyny once and I don’t believe he repented of it even though he said it he put it aside. I believe we can not vex our spirit like Lot lived next to Sodom, it caused him his wife and himswlf and his daughters to commit wickedness. And I have problems where I can be addicted to watch a lot of movies, also to see half naked men, to see full naked women and my husband just watch it, he fast forward it before I stopped watching but after we saw those kind of things.

  6. I am very careful because I am living where we don’t go to church because he believes that we are his church, Jesus name is not Jesus, we should live in old testament way with law, false trinity and that we are TRUE Hebrew Israelites, my husband is black African American and goes to Hebrew Israelites fellowship. I was controlling the house but I started to change 2 years ago and i have been peace with the Lord. I repented and asked for forgiveness from both the Lord and my husband. But I am in waiting pace now. I am more quiet and let him be.

    1. Shirley,

      That would be a difficult situation. Are you interested in any resources to help you? I could email you if that would work. <3

      I'm glad you are seeking the Lord and waiting on Him.

  7. Thank you April for your time to answer. Just trying to find closeness to him but obeying the Lord …

  8. My marriage situation is very different from your situation. But your words of truth ring true. Praying for you and me and all your following to be enabled by grace to hold every thought captive to Jesus. God is able. He will help us. Thanks for your clear, insightful writing. Be encouraged God is using it for His glory.

    1. grandmabethblog,

      Thank you so much for sharing and for the encouragement. May the Lord grant you the wisdom and power of His Spirit you need to shine for Him and to pour His Life into your marriage and family.

      Much love!

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