When I was single, I couldn’t wait till I was married and able to celebrate Valentines Day with my husband. I had all these creative ideas of what we could do together to celebrate. I wasn’t prepared for the disillusionment when marriage becomes difficult, which all marriages do face. But even bigger than the difficulties was being married and being hurt deeply by my husband. The thought of going to Hallmark and searching through the sea of super lovey-dovey cards made me angry and frustrated. Where is the “I love you but I’m flipping frustrated” Valentines card? I’m guessing it may not be a money maker for the card industry, but Hallmark if your listening maybe consider this one. But what should you do when you are in this rough boat and it’s Valentines Day? Heck, when its any time of the year, how do you deal with the anger, hurt and frustration? Through providential circumstances while in a women’s Bible study I came across Leslie Vernick’s book How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong.
Leslie does a great job of focusing on the one thing we have the power to change and influence: ourselves. And also the only one who can help us through these problems and help us to change: God. Being up front, this book is based on the Bible. If you are new to the Bible I encourage you to keep an open mind to this book.
I feel similar to my son, who when upset says, “You made me angry!” (insert his pouty face and 6 year old glare). Is this really true? My husband “makes” me angry but in reality he doesn’t. I decide to become angry with his words or actions. In fact you can take out the word husband and replace it with friend, coworker, sister, mom, you name it. Sometimes is it righteous anger? Yes it is and that is okay. But many times I am angry over my world being ruffled and put out of place. Or I began with righteous anger and slowly I became vengeful. Why? Because I am human and secretly I want life to revolve around my needs. In reality we all want the circumstances in our lives to make us happy instead of upset.
And isn’t marriage about both of us being happy? Leslie’s in her book shares:
“We choose someone whom we think will care for us and meet our needs for companionship, love, and sexual intimacy. Although these are important ingredients in any happy marriage, are they God’s ultimate purpose for marriage? What if marriage wasn’t designed primarily for our happiness but to teach us holiness?”
When I’m hurt I want to react in many different ways, but usually not in an honoring or respectful way. Cold silence, brooding, lengthy avoiding, increasingly angry thoughts and eventually maybe an explosive discussion. Later in the book Leslie says,
“When we develop a pattern of reacting negatively, whether just in our thoughts or also in our emotions and behaviors, we get our marriage into trouble. In order to reverse this pattern, we need to take full responsibility for how we react or respond to our spouse.”
I used to, and at times still do, react negatively to my husband instead of simply responding to the situation. Reacting is second nature for both me and you unless intentional change begins. In this last year, I am focusing on communicating instead of stuffing my feelings (to avoid the conflict) or start an argument because my wants are being threaten. Because as Leslie states:
“This ability to delay what we want now for something greater later is crucial if we are going to learn to make good choices so that we can act right when our spouse acts wrong.”
The reality is my husband and I hurt each other with our words and actions, sometimes innocently and other times it is with intention. I can’t squeeze, push, whine, beg, or plead my husband to have lasting change. I can change when I allow God to lead my life and continue to communicate with my husband instead of react.
If you are in a difficult relationship or marriage, my heart goes out to you. Sometimes when we are in pain we don’t know what to pray and you wish you had a dear friend pray with you. At the end of each chapter Leslie has written a prayer which I so appreciated. This is also a very good book for any marriage dealing with the difficult problems of an affair, addiction, pornography or abuse. I pray you would find encouragement today and know you are not alone in this difficult situation.
I am excited to give away one copy of this great book (your preference of either paperback or kindle version). First, please sign up below to receive email updates and then click on the Rafflecopter giveaway link to check off completing your email sign up and then follow me on Twitter @christinaplans.
The entry on Rafflecopter ends on 2/13/16 at 12 am. I will be choosing one winner on February 13th and following up on Twitter and email.
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