7 Better Ways for Handling Frustration in Marriage
7 Better Ways for Handling Frustration in Marriage
Alisha Headley iBelieve Contributing Writer
Let’s begin to focus on the behavior that frustrated us rather than attack the person. We can do this by asking for compassion from the Lord for our spouse before we speak to them. We do this by asking the Lord to help us see our spouse the way He sees them.
If you’ve being married for longer than a month, you’ve probably discovered by now that marriage can be frustrating at times. I apologize to all the newlyweds reading this or those who are engaged, or perhaps, you’re still in the season of waiting for the day you meet your prince charming and live happily ever after. I don’t want to discourage you, but while falling in love and marriage are absolutely beautiful things, and God creates the most beautiful love stories, there is one fact that remains: marriage can be and will be frustrating at times.
When two people begin living together, managing bills, mortgages, kids, schedules, in-laws, different habits, and every reality in between, inevitably frustrating moments arise.
There is nothing wrong with becoming frustrated and angry from time to time. Even Jesus found himself frustrated times. In Mark 3:5, we are told that His anger was attended by grief over the Pharisees’ lack of faith. We are also told we can “be angry, but do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). It’s ok to be frustrated, but it is when you are not careful in how you handle that frustration that it can quickly deteriorate, turning into resentment and anger that lead to actions that can ultimately lead to destruction, sometimes destruction of the relationships itself.
I wish I could say I was a wife of noble character who always acted patient, loving, and kind and never reacted to frustrating moments. I wish I could say I was calm at all times and lived and carried myself in my house “as a wife with a gentle and quiet spirit” as Peter encourages us to do in 1 Peter 3:4. But I fall short. However, in falling short, I have realized that it’s normal to live in frustration from time to time, but the key is learning how to deal with frustration in marriage in a healthy way. So, if you’re like me, and haven’t always reacted in the best ways, be encouraged by 7 better ways of handling frustration in marriage as you move forward:
1. Wrestle with God before wrestling with your spouse.
One of the most valuable things I have learned about dealing with frustration in my marriage is it’s important to wrestle with God before wrestling with your spouse. It’s so easy to fly off the handle and react out of feelings and emotions that can ultimately cause a dent in your marriage. Feelings are fleeting and don’t always depict your true self. Feelings come and go, but often we act out of feelings, and we try to reason with our spouse based on emotions at the time.
To wrestle it out with God first means to literally leave the conversation with your spouse, walk away, and go into your private place and meet with God. It is there that you an unleash your emotions and feelings with Him. Wrestle your side of the argument with God first. Wrestle your frustration in your marriage with Him. Scream it out, cry it out, blurt it out. Give your point of view of the frustration to God first. Submit your husband and yourself to God first before you submit to the frustration.
James 4:7 says to “submit to God, then resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” There are two parts to this verse. Submit to God, in other words, wrestle with Him, and in doing so, you are simultaneously resisting the devil who's trying to wrap you up in frustration. By submitting to God, the devil will flee from you and your frustration with your spouse. You see, the devil has one goal on this earth, and that is to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10), wreaking havoc our marriages. When we submit everything to God, we are also resisting the enemy to not let frustration and division occur in our marriage.
The beauty of wrestling it out with God before you wrestle the frustration out with your spouse is the vast majority of the time, the frustration is settled right then and there with the Lord, cooling the original frustration in the marriage as there is no longer angst brewing. The Lord has an amazing way of calming your heart, and all your emotions and it allows room for His forgiveness and compassion for the frustration to be settled. Let’s practice wrestling out all our frustrations with God first before our spouse.
2. Think before you speak.
James 1:19 gives us some qualities needed when facing frustration. James says to “be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” Oh, how this sounds so amazing in theory, and our prayer should be to remember this wise Scripture in times of heightened frustration.
What we speak has more of an impact than we may understand. What we speak has the “power to speak life or death” (Proverbs 18:21) over our spouse and ultimately our marriage. James takes this concept further talking about the power in our tongue that is capable of great damage. He says, "we put bits in horse’s mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships; although they are large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.” (James 3:3-5)
We must control our tongues because they can steer our lives, our relationships, and damage our marriage. Let’s begin to harness our tongue to the Spirit of God. To think before we speak and realize that power of our words when we choose to be quick to speak rather than slow. Today, let's realize the power we have in our tongues and let’s speak blessings and not death over all the frustrations we experience in our marriage.
3. Pursue peace (above all else).
Romans 8:18 says, “if it is at all possible, as much as it depends on your, live peaceably with all men.” It’s not always easy to live at peace with someone you are frustrated with, but think of the time, thoughts, and effort you put into staying frustrated and angry with your spouse. God commands us to cultivate a house of peace, if possible. Continuing to be frustrated can lead down roads lacking peace.
The verses continue to say in verse 19-21, to “not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Let’s pursue peace and let’s allow God to then intervene. Let’s allow His peace to overwhelm our homes. If we seek God and pursue His peace above all else, we can trust that He will take care of the rest.
4. Stop the frustration cycle.
An amazing book that helped my husband and me handle frustration in our marriage is Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. In this book, he talks about the concept of the love and respect cycle that most marriages fall into. Often times, we get frustrated in our marriage because as women, we don’t feel love from our husbands, so we react in frustration with disrespect. While our husbands might not feel respect from us women, they then may react in frustration with their lack of love. Dr. Eggerichs describes this as the love and respect cycle, and this is something that can last for days, and sometimes weeks. It’s a frustration cycle that if not stopped, may continue down a road of detriment.
It’s our job as believers to get off this hamster-wheel cycle and realize the frustration behind it. If we can recognize that we are on the cycle, we can then get off the cycle and handle frustration in a much better and healthier way in our marriages.
5. Focus on the behavior. (Don’t character assassinate.)
It’s so easy to attack your spouse's character when they frustrate you. My pastor refers to this as "character assassination". When the frustration has calmed down and you eventually talk things out with your spouse, it’s important to avoid showcasing their flaws, tearing down their character. You are in turn, assassinating them as a person versus their behavior, which causes more frustration. We discussed the power of words earlier and the effect they can have as they steer communication in our relationships. Attacking someone’s character is something we can never take back. This type of attack can have damaging effects on your marriage.
Let’s begin to focus on the behavior that frustrated us rather than attack the person. We can do this by asking for compassion from the Lord for our spouse before we speak to them. We do this by asking the Lord to help us see our spouse the way He sees them. God will grant us wisdom when the time comes to discuss any frustration with our spouse. James 1:5 says, “if any of you lack wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you.”
6. Practice forgiveness.
The act of practicing forgiveness is hard. But the more we do it, the more easy it becomes next time. The truth is: there will be a time you have to forgive in marriage. Sometimes in marriage, practicing forgiveness is a daily action. Perhaps, it’s an hourly one. The more equipped you can become with forgiving over remaining frustrated, the easier it will be.
Without forgiveness, frustration begins, resentment can build, walls can form, and before you know it, the walls can come crashing down on your marriage.
Proverbs 17:9 says, “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” Ouch. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to feel separated in any way, shape, or form from my spouse. How many times has a lack of forgiveness due to frustration with a spouse caused you worry, hurt, anger, anxiety, and lack of sleep? You dwell on it so much that it begins to consume you. Love wins and prospers when you can forgive the fault in someone else.
I encourage you to start practicing forgiveness today. Ask the Holy Spirit to help soften your heart towards your spouse due to any frustrations so the love can prosper in your marriage, rather than allow harbored bitterness to potentially separate you.
7. Pray for your spouse instead of trying to change them.
I wrote an article earlier this year called "How To Pray for Your Husband Instead of Trying To Change Him", and one of the steps calls us to focus on the praying and let God do the changing. Perhaps your frustration comes from something that you feel deeply your spouse should change, but regardless of the reasoning behind you wanting your husband to change, you have little control of that. In fact, more times than not, when we are frustrated and we think talking to our husbands about the changes they need to make will help, it often comes off to them as contentious and nagging, creating tension. Proverbs 21:9 says a hard truth when it comes to a nagging wife, saying that “it is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.”
Ask yourself: are you trying to change your husband, and in doing so, unleashing your frustration through nagging? What if you begin turning that frustration into prayer instead? One of the greatest roles and job responsibilities we have as wives is the job done on our knees in prayer. Let’s begin to trust God with our husbands, covering them in prayer, allowing God to do the changing. The more we try over and over again to mold our husbands, so we are no longer frustrated, the more exhausted we become. Let’s turn that exhaustion into praying for them, trusting that God can and will do the changing.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/bee32
Alisha Headley is a writer + speaker who has a desire to meet the everyday woman in her everyday life with biblical truth. Stepping into her true calling, she left the corporate world behind as a former-financial VP to love on her family as a stay-at-home wifey + dog mama, while also being able to pursue her passion as a writer. Healing from a chapter of life consumed with lies she once believed about herself, she is inspired to point women to Christ to experience the freedom + power to overcome those lies with the truth written in God’s word. In her free time, Alisha enjoys road trips around the country, working out so she can eat her favorite foods, and creatively styling her outfits with a craft for fashion. Alisha is a proud wifey and dog mama living in Scottsdale, Arizona.