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.

~ ~ ~

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.

~ ~ ~

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?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

19 Thoughts on “Do Your Feelings Control Your Marriage?

  1. This is great stuff here. I used to be completely ruled by my feelings. Truth was whatever my feelings told me. My feelings aren’t truth and they don’t control my behavior the way they used to. A good lesson learned (okay, learning, LOL)

  2. “I have learned to seek God and ask for His help in doing His will instead of following my feelings.”

    As another woman whose feelings *want* to rule, quiet time spent with the Lord is my ONLY hope! (Oy! on the days I resist doing that.) He has the most miraculous way of softening my heart and putting all things into perspective. I love Him for it! I’m so thankful that He would actually allow this self-centered wife the opportunity to be a vessel, to be used by Him, to pour out love.

    • Amen! Going to God with my feelings instead of trying live my life by them has made such a difference. I am now a better sister in Christ to my husband as well as a better wife.

  3. Erin on June 16, 2014 at 8:36 pm said:

    “Feelings are not truth.” That’s SO…well…true. 🙂

    Would you mind sharing a specific example of where in the Bible you’ve turned to when you knew you needed to do something different than what you felt like doing? The Bible overwhelms me.

    • When I am trying to remind myself of God’s design for marriage, I will go to Genesis 2, 1 Corinthians 7, or Ephesians 5. These passages about marriage remind me that it is being one flesh with my husband that I am most whole, that we should not deprive each other, and that God has a design for how marriage works. When I want to be reminded of the joy I can find in the marriage bed, I will usually go to Song of Solomon.

      If I am looking for help in dealing with a specific feeling I have or an issue I’m facing, I will google something like “Bible passages about perseverance” or “Bible verses about appearance.” That will usually lead me to either some actual Bible passages or to some devotionals that link to Bible verses.

      When I began this journey, though, I found it best to go the Psalms. I would just pick one and start reading. The Psalms helped settle the gathering storms and hurt I was trying to work through. That is still where I go when my heart feels unsettled. I sometimes read a Psalm aloud as a prayer when I can’t find the words on my own.

  4. This is one of the most frustrating things that I contend with day in and day out. It is something of a mystery how I can go from OK to past delirious (and not in a good way) where my feelings dictate my life. Its a well-worn rut in my brain chemistry or something. Case in point, an lighthearted text exchange b/t my husband and myself went from good to I cannot believe he said or asked that of me. I spent the better part of Monday afternoon caught in confusing and distraught feelings, way, way over-thinking his text when half of my brain knew better. It colored my entire afternoon and evening. And when I tried to express this to my husband later that evening (b/c he knew something wasn’t right), he was a little lost by my reaction to his original request. Sometimes I just can’t make the noise in my head go away. And years and years of this behavior has wreaked havoc and done untold damage on my marriage. I feel so hemmed in by this until I just do not know what to do.

    • As I began to work past my refusing and gate-keeping, I had many times when exchanges seemed to go from light-hearted and sexy to vicious in the space of a breath. Every time I noticed this, I forced myself to apologize, even if it was several hours later. I hated doing that, but it was part of what helped me alter my behavior as well as demonstrate to my husband that I was trying to change myself for the better.

      It really sounds like your emotions have taken over.

      Once something becomes an ingrained habit, it is so, so hard to learn to do something different. I find that even after several years of intentional growth and not refusing, I still have moments when my feelings make me want to rise up with a “No! Leave me alone!” The best way to end a bad habit may be to replace it with a good one. I did a lot of practice in dealing with my emotions. I started by working on becoming aware of my feelings taking over. It sounds like you’re already doing this. The next thing I did was to apologize every time this happened. Then, I started to become aware of it while it was happening, and I would stop, take a deep breath, apologize, remind myself what I should be doing instead, and try to do that. When I would mess up, I would spend time in prayer and in the Word to remind myself of what I should be striving for.

      I used to have horrible PMS-related mood swings. It helped me to plan ahead to minimize some frustrations. For instance, I would become quickly overwhelmed when I had a lot to do, whether those were household chores or tasks at work. About a week before my expected mood swings, I would try to cook double batches of meals so I could freeze one and then have less cooking to do during my bad days. I would plan to get through the more frustrating tasks at work so I would have more pleasant things during those days. By minimizing some of my frustrations, I had more mental resources for dealing with the mood swings.

      Hang in there, take lots of deep breaths, and invite God into your frustrations so He can help you move past them.

  5. Your comments of personal responsibility and and honoring your husband really resonate with me. I just finished reading a brand new book called “The Wholehearted Wife: 10 Keys to a More Loving Relationship. It’s “Key” topics include honoring, accepting personality, resolving conflict, forgiving, intimacy, all centered on changing ME and aligning myself with God and what he wants from me as a wife, because I am the only thing I can control. I am responsible for me and my relationship with God which effects my husband. Biblical, inspirational, affirming. It says, “When we turn to God for help, he fills us with his love and enables us to see ourselves and our husbands through his eyes. Keep in mind that a wholehearted wife focuses first on her own heart!” I highly recommend this book! Check it out: http://www.tyndale.com/The-Wholehearted-Wife/9781624051463#.U50Tx14Q7wJ

  6. Adri on June 18, 2014 at 3:21 am said:

    This is such a great post! And it came to me in such a perfect moment. It is enlighting to me to read and realize that I am, too, governed by my emotions. Some days more than others.
    My husband is very centered and direct, so he suffers a lot from my swings and cannot really understand them. At the end of the day, how could he? This swings are not rational and come entirely from my feelings.
    I will work on being more aware of this, on controlling my actions and not beliving my feelings are truth. Are there any resources (books, other blog entries) you can recommend further?

    • Readers, can you suggest some good resources for this?

      For me, a lot of it was being intentional about paying attention to myself. Simply being able to recognize when I was being emotional was helpful.

      • trixie1466 on June 18, 2014 at 11:58 am said:

        For me reading Proverbs everyday was really helpful. Not sure if that would work for anyone else regarding emotions, but reading a lot about wisdom helped me.

  7. I’m wondering what the most commonly occurring emotions are that affect other women’s marriages? Anyone willing to chime in?

    For me, it’s anger, fear, and insecurity.

  8. For me, the answer came in reading lots and lots of Christian Blogs – including this one, and others and the amazing advise that firstly let me know that I am not alone, and secondly to let me know ways to improve who I am to move forward to becoming a better wife for God and for my husband. I am still a work in progress but a lot further than where I was jut a little while ago.

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