Stop the Scary Marriage Mash-Ups

by Karen Ehman January 29, 2019
“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy — dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8 (CSB)
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When they were younger, our kids loved to watch Mary Poppins. Their eyes were riveted to the television screen, watching Mary magically tidy up the toy room or Bert and the chimney sweeps twirl and leap over the rooftops of London. And of course, when that part of the movie came on the screen, they had to try to “step in time!” right along with them, all over our living room furniture!

Recently, I discovered an online video which was a collection of scenes from this classic movie. The way the scenes were spliced together completely changed the vibe of the movie.

Dubbed Scary Mary, this version looks like a trailer for a horror film with Mary Poppins sometimes peering out windows or with dark gloomy skies overshadowing the screen. At one point, the children appear to be running for their lives! Mary’s voice can be heard singing what’s actually a lullaby from the movie, but to hear her slowly and almost inaudibly vocalizing the words, “Stay awake, don’t rest your head” sounded creepy!

By choosing only the seemingly dark and dreary parts of the film, the video made you believe something totally untrue — that Mary Poppins is actually a horror flick!

Often, when we think about our marriages, we selectively retrieve memories of difficult events and interactions and then string them together in a mash-up of memories that paints the entire relationship in a ghastly light.

We all have bad times. Times of underlying tension. Heated conflicts. Cold shoulders. All-out disagreements. We’ve experienced hurt feelings, dashed hopes and seasons of intense sadness. But let’s not allow our minds to play tricks on us, fooling us into believing our entire relationship has been horrendous, crafting our own Scary Marriage movie.

Today’s key verse states, “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy — dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

Instead of looking only for the bad in a relationship, let’s implement a powerful practice that will enable us to focus on what God is doing, even within our marriage. Let’s look for and dwell on the good rather than the bad.

The Greek word for dwell in Philippians 4:8 means “to consider, to take into account, to calculate.” We can be deliberate to take into account and add up all the aspects of our marriages — and of our spouses — that are honorable, commendable, lovely and worthy of praise.

If we look hard enough, refusing to dwell on what frustrates or even infuriates us, and instead mentally add up the admirable qualities, we are best positioned to allow God to gift us with a fresh and healthy perspective. We can obtain a renewed commitment to that man we fell in love with. (Likewise, dwelling on good things can help us gain a strengthened relationship with a best friend, a sister, a close co-worker, etc.)

Every marriage is a unique blend of awesome and awful. However, we get to choose where our thoughts will dwell. When we dwell on the awful, we craft our own horror flick and want to run away — or at least cover our eyes. But it doesn’t have to be that way if we resolve to deliberately focus on the awesome instead.

Father God, help my mind dwell on the good aspects of my spouse and my marriage, rather than focus on whatever falls short. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Philippians 2:5, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Ephesians 4:32, “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you." (NLT)

Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." (NIV)


If you could use some encouragement in your marriage, check out Karen Ehman’s upcoming new book, Keep Showing Up: How to Stay Crazy in Love When Your Love Drives You Crazy. You’ll receive a special bonus when you pre-order from our Proverbs 31 bookstore.


Would you like to know more about a “Bettering Your Marriage Challenge” coming in February from Karen for those who pre-order a copy of her upcoming marriage book? Join her on her blog for more information. 


What are some character qualities of your spouse that you most appreciate? Let your mind dwell on these good aspects, not just keeping them to yourself, but verbalizing them to your husband as well. Send a text. Make a call. Greet him at the end of today by telling him at least one admirable quality he possesses that you have been dwelling on that day. If you’re not married or perhaps estranged from your spouse, try this same exercise for a treasured friend or dear family member, sharing specifically what you appreciate.

Join the conversation! Today’s devotion author would love to hear from you. Stop by our website to “meet” Karen, when you share your thoughts in the comments section.

{Editor’s Note: Today’s devotion is meant to encourage anyone facing typical frustrations within a healthy marriage. However, we’re mindful that 1 in 4 women report facing domestic violence or abuse. To get confidential, anonymous help or practical next steps to help a friend, call 1-800-799-7233 (-SAFE) or visit this website.}

© 2019 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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