For many years, I expected Greg to be responsible for my emotions.
I expected him to “make me happy.” I expected him to “fix me” if I was upset. I expected him to meet needs in my heart and soul that only Jesus could meet. I expected that being close to him would give me peace, joy, fulfillment, contentment and happiness. I also thought it was my job to “fix him” if he “wasn’t right” in my eyes. I made Greg into an idol. I also did not take personal responsibility for my own sin, but justified all of my sin in my heart or, even worse, didn’t even see my own sin. (Sin is an archery term that means “to miss the mark” of the holy standard of God.)
Then God showed me my mountain of ickiness in my own life. It was quite overwhelming at first to see just how evil my motives and intentions were. I had SELF on the throne of my heart, not God. I was trusting April, not Jesus. I was overflowing with pride, self-righteousness, bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment, unbelief in God, selfishness and idolatry. Those things are ugly to God. And they are toxic poison to me, my relationship with Christ and my relationships with others.
I was shocked to realize that I needed to take responsibility for my own spiritual growth and emotional well-being. I had been living as if Greg was responsible for me and as if I was responsible for him. I had it backwards!
- I am responsible for myself.
- Greg is responsible for himself.
No one can rob me of the peace, love and joy of Christ. Those things are mine unless I chose to give them up. My husband cannot keep me from experiencing God’s joy. My mother cannot steal the peace Jesus has given to me – not unless I allow her to. My friends and coworkers cannot take away the gifts God has given to me in Christ. I have the power to keep these things as I abide in Christ and His Spirit overflows in me.
My emotions are a warning system. If I feel angry, upset, betrayed, slighted, or sinned against in some way, my feelings tell me that I may need to address an issue with someone. It means that I need to do some digging and investigating.
However, sometimes my emotions will tell me that there is something to be upset about, when really there isn’t. So, I need to pray about whatever my emotions are telling me and be sure my emotions are accurate and that I am listening to God’s Spirit before I forge ahead and confront someone else. (Confronting Our Husbands’ Sin) Sometimes my negative emotions can be a warning that there is sin in my own heart – idolatry, pride, self-righteousness, control, bitterness… so it is important to notice my emotions and to lay them before God to get an accurate diagnosis of what the real problem is.
SOMEONE ELSE’S EMOTIONS
If my husband (or someone else) is angry or depressed, that is for him to deal with. I can seek to bless him. If I have sinned against him in some way, it is my responsibility to make things right as best I can (Matthew 5:23-24). But there are times when our husbands will be upset, and it really isn’t our fault or our responsibility. This requires much prayer on our part to figure out where our responsibility ends and theirs begins sometimes. But sometimes they have their own sin issues or just their own stressors to deal with that don’t have anything to do with us. I don’t want wives to take responsibility for things that truly are not their responsibility. (I Am Trying to Respect and Submit, but My Husband Is More Unloving Than Ever! What is Going On?)
EMOTIONS ARE NOT ALWAYS ACCURATE AND THEY ARE NOT “FACTS”
It is always easier to blame someone else when we are upset. But our feelings and emotions are not always accurate and dependable. We must examine them under the Light of Scripture. Just because I feel angry at my husband, doesn’t mean he actually sinned against me. It could be that I have PMS. Or it could mean that my motives need to be examined. Just because a husband feels angry at his wife, doesn’t mean she sinned against him. She may have. That is possible. Or, he could be frustrated about something else and maybe he is taking it out on his wife. Or maybe he has some other issue going on in his heart that he can’t even articulate. It can take time to dig down and examine exactly what the root of the anger is coming from. And if it is someone else’s anger, we may not be able to see the root or their real motives or issues.
If a husband is sinning, he owns that, not his wife. Of course, “We are most tempted to sin when we are sinned against” – like Gary Thomas says, in Sacred Marriage. But, I am only responsible for my reactions and my responses. And if I am sinning against my husband, I own that, not Greg.
WHEN I USED TO GET UPSET
Crying used to be a pretty common thing for me. Sometimes every single night for months and months at a time. Greg didn’t know what to do to help me back then. When he tried to help me, it was never enough. I was insatiable – because I expected Greg to be God to me. I was a black hole of neediness. Eventually, he gave up trying. He knew I would be upset if he tried to help me and he knew I would be upset if he didn’t try to help me. So, what good was there in trying if I continued to be upset?
He shut down more and more. He felt like a failure. He wanted me to be happy, but it seemed that I was impossible to please. And I really was impossible for him to please. If he did what I demanded, I wanted more. Every time.
NOW WHEN I AM UPSET
I don’t cry nearly as much as I used to. THANKFULLY!
If Greg is awake and hears me crying, he will come find me and check on me. That night last week, he didn’t even hear me – he had fallen back asleep while I was taking a long time to contemplate my answer. 🙂 But when he is awake and conscious, Greg always asks me what is wrong and tries to comfort me if I am crying or even just if I am upset about something. He will often hold me. He listens. He offers wise advice. He encourages me. That is what I had always longed for him to do earlier in our marriage. Now, he is the husband I always knew he could be.
It took a few years into this journey for things to be like this. Now Greg knows he can please me. He knows he can help me. He also knows that I don’t hold him responsible for my emotions and my happiness. That takes so much pressure off of him! He loves to see me happy. He loves to delight me. And he is a lot more willing to try to do things for me now that I am appreciative, responsive, respectful and cooperative instead of nagging, complaining, negative, resentful, bitter, contentious and disrespectful.
MY REAL SOURCE OF COMFORT
I have learned to take my pain to God first. That is where my true comfort and healing is. In Christ. I run to Him when I am hurting. If Greg does comfort me, that is awesome, and I greatly appreciate it. But if he is asleep, busy or not home, that is ok. His comfort is a blessing, but it cannot replace God’s comfort. I am not dependent on Greg to heal me and fill me with abundant spiritual life. I am totally dependent on Jesus. Those first couple of years of this journey, Greg was still checked out and unplugged from me for the most part. It was just me and God. That turned out to be a GOOD thing because I learned to be completely dependent on Christ and nothing else. I had no mentor. I had no husband to lead me in prayer and in healing. He was too wounded and battered himself at that point.
But I had God. I had His Word. I had my journals. I had the books I was reading. That was enough. Jesus was more than enough. He was more than sufficient.
I learned that whether Greg is here or not, I am going to be filled to overflowing with good spiritual things as long as I cling to Jesus and His Spirit is nourishing my soul – even we face trials, even if Greg dies or the things I used to be so afraid of were to come true, if I have Jesus, I have all that I need. He is my Source. He is my LIFE. He is my Greatest Treasure. He is EVERYTHING to me!
As I seek Him, repent of any sin, love Him, adore Him, praise Him, worship Him and fully submit myself completely to Him, His Spirit floods my soul. I pour out my heart to Him and spend time writing out my thoughts and then being quiet and listening to Him and to His Word. His supernatural love, peace, joy, contentment and abundant spiritual life well up and bubble over in my soul. I know that if I have Jesus, I have all that I need. I can be content.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2
Praying for spiritual and emotional healing for each of you, your husbands, your marriages and your families!
I talk at times about not automatically assuming our husbands have evil motives toward us. That does not mean it is impossible for them to have evil motives. It is possible, of course. Men are sinners, too. But in many cases, our husbands don’t have evil motives toward us and when we assume they do, incorrectly, we actually create much more damage. In fact, in Shaunti Feldhahn’s survey, over 95% of husbands and wives actually have at least some good will toward their spouses. Most really do love their spouses and want their marriage to work.
However, if your particular husband does have evil motives toward you, and you can see that is a fact by evidence, not just by your feelings, please seek appropriate, godly, experienced help and get where you are safe if you are in danger. I pray God will give you wisdom to handle this and to respond rightly. If you are being abused or there are very severe issues in your marriage, please don’t read my blog but seek wise, trustworthy counsel to help you navigate these issues.
Psalms = a great book to read about emotions and taking them to God. 🙂 Of course, this issue is a recurring theme all throughout scripture.