Marriage Mondays: Are your Emotions Ruling your Marriage?
I feel excited, overwhelmed, excited again and then exhausted all in the space of ten seconds. Mark? Seriously, Steady Eddie. Sometimes I feel like he only has one emotion a day. Usually it is love. For God, then me, then coffee, then Dave Ridley and then Nando’s. Mild exaggeration but you understand my point.
Learning how to manage my emotions has been such an important journey in stewarding my marriage.
Mark, I have a lot of emotions.
I am a girl. I feel things very intensely. In fact currently as I write this:
- I feel so inspired by the podcast I listened to this morning.
- I feel exceedingly excited at the prospect of seeing my beloved friend today.
- I feel overwhelmed when I think about whether or not my online program will take off.
- I feel flustered when I think of the mess currently in our house.
- I feel tired when I think about cleaning it.
- I feel incredibly honoured when I think of all the people currently in my life that I am blessed by.
- I feel overwhelmed when I think of the destiny and calling which God has placed on my heart.
- I feel like possibly I am delusional when I think of the destiny and calling on my life.
- I feel flabbergasted at God’s generous provision and then I wonder why it is taking so long to own my own house.
- I feel delighted as I sip my coffee.
- I instantly feel manic from the coffee.
- I feel a craving for a scone while feeling simultaneously bloated and uncomfortable after eating too much cake and watermelon last night.
- I feel the remnants of exasperation that I felt towards the Asian driver in front of me half an hour ago (don’t get offended people remember I too, am an Asian driver).
- I feel intense love for my husband while he gets himself a bowl of Cheese and Bacon Shapes and thinks I can’t see him.
- I feel mild irritation at myself for buying them while shopping hungry.
All of these feelings have transpired in the last 45 minutes or so.
My Emotions used to Rule Me
In the past I used to let my feelings dictate my actions. I thought that the way I “felt” was my truth and would act accordingly. I would swing from feeling excited to overwhelmed and tired. Then I would identify with those feelings and again, act accordingly. I would allow myself to panic or I would snap in irritation. My mindset would reflect my emotional state and my emotional state would dictate my actions. Mark would unfortunately bear the brunt of my emotional state. This was fine when I was positive and excited but if I was annoyed and irritated, he would be the first to reap the negative ramifications.
Noting the fragility of my emotions and the effect they could have on the thermostat of my home and marriage, I started to believe that emotions and feelings were the enemy. I used to envy my husband who seemed to be so stable. I thought perhaps it was my immaturity and his maturity that was the difference.
I am a feeler… And that’s okay.
At the risk of sounding cliché, I have realised over the years that I have been crafted and created in this way. My ability to acutely feel makes up who I am. It gives me divine creativity and the powerful ability to empathise. Emotions and my feelings are not the enemy. However how I steward these emotions determines everything. I learned my emotions and feelings can be glorious as long as I develop the maturity to not let them rule over me.
Learning to steward my emotions has been so fundamental in maintaining a healthy marriage. Learning to acknowledge them, hold onto the healthy ones, let go of the unhealthy ones and not be governed by the constantly changing tide has been a steep learning curve and one that I am still endeavouring to learn.
Recognise your Emotions but Don’t be ruled by them
Emotions and feelings are not the enemy. If stewarded well they are glorious. The key is to not let them dictate your actions. God created us to feel deeply. Contrary to some opinions of God, He has emotions! And not just negative ones like anger as some people sadly believe He is dominated by. The greatest definition of God found in the Bible is love.
Now when I feel emotions, I acknowledge them and I decide if they are in keeping with what I know to be true. Here are some real-life examples:
- • My irritation with the kitchen being a mess does not have to end in me berating Mark about it. I have learned to take a breath and to never speak in the moment of heightened annoyance. Later, once the moment of irritation has passed, if I feel it is still relevant and logical than I may bring it up. In this case it was not. The boy got home at 11:00pm after a meeting. It took me two minutes to unload the dishwasher and wipe down the bench in the morning.
- • Exhausted after 13 hour shifts, three days in a row I knew that the overwhelming feeling I got when I thought about going to a church meeting had everything to do with my physical exhaustion and nothing to do with church itself or the people who go there.
In the past I have dragged myself to meetings and while there, wondered why all the people are so profoundly annoying.
Now when I recognise exhaustion in myself (often disguised as irritation, illogical annoyance and mild anxiety) I chose instead to go to bed. I always feel like a new person in the morning.
- • I spent 10 hours writing. Potentially I am over-invested at this point. Not a great time to proofread and have an emotional spin out at how incredibly boring what I just wrote is and impulsively delete it all and then burst into tears because I am never going to make it as a writer. Much better to congratulate myself on how disciplined I was to write all day, leave my work and come back to it after food and sleep.
- • I feel lonely without Mark on an interstate work trip and simultaneously exhausted from a hectic work schedule of constant presenting in front of people. Feeling the full effect of this during a stressful day is not a great time to reassess my life situation and call Mark in the middle of the heightened emotional state to tell him it is time for him to financially provide as I am exhausted. It’s much better to reassess how I feel when I’m home and not at the peak of a workload while travelling interstate.
In contrast, I have learned that stifling my emotions is not the way either. Instead, it is far more beneficial to allow myself to recognise how I feel but never act immediately or impulsively from this emotional state. I now wait ’til I have given myself time and am not in an emotional or stressful place and then reassess. If things still need addressing at that point, then I can do so in a calm, distilled manner.
How can we Govern Our Emotions?
The healthier my mindset, the healthier my thought life is.
My emotions are often a direct result of my mindset and thought life. If my mind and thoughts are in a healthy place than my emotions are more likely to be that of joy, peace and excitement. More likely to be stable. Moreover if feelings of irritation, annoyance, anxiety and impatience do come at me, I am in a far better place to recognise them and have the grace and right perspective to not be ruled by them.
Remember, emotions are not the enemy.
Just steward them well.
Learn to only act on the feelings that are in keeping with the truth. Take a moment. Know when to act and what to ignore. My goodness, learning to do this (and I am by no means a master of it yet) has been one of the keys to enabling consistency, stability and has been a key point in maintaining harmony and peace in my marriage.
When Asked this question,
How do you steward your emotions; learning to celebrate them while not letting them rule you or negatively impact the consistency of your marriage?
This is how my friend Melissa, married for 15 years replied.
“We mutually recognise that we are two individual people who have chosen to lay down our lives for the other in marriage. We don’t make room for selfishness to stay around for very long. We have trained ourselves to each look at the motive of our own hearts, as that is usually at the root of disappointment or arguments. Sometimes I have big expectations that I never communicated which cause me to get angry when they are not met, even though Adam has no clue that I was expecting anything of him! I have learned that it is unfair to put that on him. I have learned to apply the Biblical adage to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry and honestly, it saves so much grief! We both can be fiery in our disagreements but we work very hard to resolve them instead of allowing them to linger. We don’t go to bed angry. Ever.”
Surely to Reign in marriage and in Life we need to learn to steward our emotions.
For this week’s challenge, let’s ask ourselves this:
What is one thing that you can do to steward your emotions in your marriage?
How can you celebrate your emotions, while not letting them rule you or negatively impact the consistency of your marriage?
Beloved take it from someone with more emotions than imaginable.
Learning to celebrate emotions, yet not be governed by them is a game changer.
Until next time,
You are deeply loved and richly cherished,
Reign in Life
Wink: The other day I felt so upset when Mark used my BATH towel to mop up water on the bathroom floor that I started throwing bottles of shampoo and conditioner from within the shower at him. Not in a playful, this is fun way, but in a I am a softball pitcher and actually trying to cause damage way… Not my finest hour. Needless to say, I too will be taking this challenge this week.
P.S. If you like this article perhaps you might want to my e book on “7 Thoughts on marriage.”
P.P.S Read about other articles on Marriage Monday.