You know the stereotype of women being so emotional? I am a perfect illustration of that stereotype. I’m emotional, I’m sensitive, and I have more feelings than I sometimes know what to do with.
I’m the first to admit that my inclination is to live life based on my feelings. Whether I feel joyful, dejected, rejected, frightened, hurt, or worried, my feelings dictate how I want to act and speak. I can’t pretend I feel anything other than what I actually feel. My feelings are what they are.
My refusing and gate-keeping were rooted largely in my feelings of hurt from things Big Guy did and said. In my mind, my feelings (and, therefore, my actions) were his responsibility. I let my husband’s words and behavior determine whether I was receptive to his sexual advances or not.
My feelings—about him, about our marriage, about whatever was going on in our lives—had way too much control over our marriage.
An important part of my growth over the past few years has involved intentional work on the role my feelings play in my marriage. I still can’t manage to control what my feelings are. I don’t know if I ever will. That doesn’t mean they have to run things.
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I’d like to share some lessons I’ve learned about feelings that have helped me build a stronger marriage.
I am responsible for my own feelings. Learning to own my feelings has meant that I had to stop blaming my feelings on anyone else. If I feel like I’m unattractive, or unloved, or whatever, no one forced me to have those feelings. If my husband says something I don’t like, I have many choices as to how to feel.
My feelings are also not my husband’s job. Yes, my husband should love me. He should live in understanding with me. But he is not responsible for how I feel. That is on my shoulders, not his.
Feelings are not truth. I frequently observe my husband being loving toward me, and those observations help me know, in my mind, that he loves me. But sometimes, those actions just don’t reach my heart. When I let myself think that my feelings are truth, I miss out on seeing a great deal. It is easy for me to get so caught up in my feelings that they begin to obscure God’s truth for me. My feelings make it easy for Satan to get his claws into me.
Mine aren’t the only feelings that matter. My feelings matter—but they matter no more and no less than my husband’s feelings do. We had gotten into a cycle of responding to each other out of our own hurt and dismissing the hurt of the other person. I was finally able to see that my actions hurt my husband. Eventually, I was able to recognize this without the added thought of “he started it” or “he deserved it.” I developed empathy for my husband.
Feelings should not drive behavior. My feelings tell me how I want to act—but I have learned to turn to God instead of to my feelings. What does the Bible tell me I should do? I still have times when my feelings have a strong pull on me—and instead of justifying things by claiming that my feelings were so important, I have learned to seek God and ask for His help in doing His will instead of following my feelings.
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As I have learned these lessons, I have become better able to shake off the hold my emotions sometimes have on me. In a surprising example of “fake it to make it,” I have found that the more I intentionally rise above my feelings, the more my feelings are aligned with God’s will.
If you are an emotional woman as I am, I encourage you to look at the role your feelings play in your marriage. Are your feelings a tool that help you be the woman God wants you to be, or do they have too much control? How can you apply the lessons here to strengthen your own marriage?
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