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What do you want to do when you’re angry or conflicted or stressed? I want to scream, stomp around and eat some chips or chocolate. Mostly, I want to vent.
My husband is an easy target if I’m in need of someone to vent to. It doesn’t feel like gossip if I complain to my husband about a friend because he’s my husband. He doesn’t count, right? Plus, he married me, so he has to care about all of my feelings, right?
Unfortunately, Andy can’t read my mind and know exactly what I need at any given moment. He also doesn’t have a long attention span when it comes to hearing me gripe. He comes home from work with his own set of frustrations — the last thing he wants is to be greeted by a ranting wife. If he happens to glance at the TV while I’m talking, I’ll get even more upset. If he doesn’t respond to what I’m saying, I’ll question whether he’s really listening.
I’ll be honest — I don’t love when Andy comes in the door and starts ranting about his workday. I can easily feel annoyed that he’s having a bad attitude, and my instinct is to shut my “listening ears” off and tune him out until he’s finished, because I often struggle with letting Andy’s attitude effect my attitude.
How can we prevent situations where we unleash a torrent of emotions on to our husbands? I’ve identified two steps that have helped me as I work through this issue in my own marriage:
My first instinct when I’m upset is to tell someone about it — whether it’s Andy, or my mom or a friend. When people are upset and want to talk about it, they’re usually seeking one thing in particular: validation. Have you ever caught yourself saying, “Am I crazy for feeling this way?” Or, “I don’t mean to gossip, but…” Or, “I can’t be the only person who is having this problem.” It feels rewarding to have someone agree with you. It feels as though you’re justified in your anger or frustration.
I’ve been working on choosing to go to God first when I feel my emotions start to overwhelm me. I’ve found that pouring my heart out to God helps me identify what emotions are legitimate and what emotions are stemmed from lies and insecurities. When you approach the throne of God with your emotions, be prepared to experience a sudden realization of where your heart has lead you astray. I’m quickly aware of my petty thoughts or wrongful anger when I lay my burdens at Jesus’ feet. I find comfort in knowing God WANTS me to cast my cares on Him!
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” -1 Peter 5:6-7
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort…” -2 Corinthians 1:3
Once I’ve poured out all my emotions to God, I like to spend some time reflecting on what Holy Spirit might be trying to tell me or teach me. For example, if I’m frustrated that a friend hasn’t been pursuing me, I might receive nudging from God to wait a week before I bring up my concern with me. Or, I might be reminded of the many ways her friendship has blessed me in the past, which might make me more inclined to be patient. Not allowing myself to go off the rails helps me to see more clearly what it is I’m TRULY feeling.
Giving yourself a time out to cool off doesn’t always solve your problem or make your emotions go away, but it will help the heart of the issue become apparent. Plus, it will allow you to approach the situation with a clear head and hopefully some ideas on how to move forward.
“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” -Proverbs 29:11
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” -Ephesians 4:31-32
While we need to be cautious not to overwhelm our husbands with our emotions, we should still be in communication with one another. Instead of treating Andy as a sounding board for venting my emotions to, I want to treat him as a valued member of the husband and wife TEAM that we are.
I encourage you (and myself) to invite God into our hearts and ask Him to help us weed through our emotions, so we may approach our husbands with a clear understanding of how we actually feel, and what we need from them. Let’s work on not giving full vent to our emotions, but instead taking time to pray and reflect. Then, when we do share our frustrations with our jobs, or our concerns about a house project, or whatever is on our hearts, our husbands won’t feel bombarded.
Laura Rennie lives in Maryland with her hilarious husband and constantly shedding dog. She loves reading, writing and playing word games. Her greatest desire is to share Jesus through her words and actions as she learns how to be a better wife, daughter, sister and friend.