after reading Genesis 30 This morning my mind stopped at verse 27, “I have learned by experience.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly learned from experience how to “not react” to my spouse when I’m upset. Nearly a decade later, my spouse has also learned “how not to react” to me. Some things in life remain forever in our hearts simply because we have learned them through experience. For example, if I don’t take the time to listen to her husband, she constructs her answer to be better than what her husband said, and her husband admits it. It turns out they won’t. He likes to listen to me before I spout my myriad thoughts and options to him.
On the other hand, I’ve learned that he doesn’t like interrupting me in the midst of my myriad thoughts and opinions. We don’t like to be blamed when we argue with each other, and we don’t like to feel attacked. When the other person’s reaction makes us feel hurt, unloved, or disrespected, we close ourselves off from each other.
So here are three ways (we’ve learned from experience) to treat your spouse with respect, even if you’re upset.
1. Start by saying “I love you”
For a long time in our marriage, we refrained from saying “I love you” when one of us was upset. I remember being very upset with what her husband said. When we went to bed that night, her husband said, “I love you,” but I wouldn’t say it back. So he said again. Again, it wasn’t. From that experience he learned that I needed to let him know that even though I was mad at him, of course I still loved him. Our children are no exception. We always tell them we love them when they do something wrong. I don’t want them to worry that I might not be able to love them because of my mistake. Adults also need this affirmation.
So the next time your spouse says or does something that offends you, reply, “I love you. I need time to process my feelings.” That way, they can know that your love for them hasn’t changed based on your actions. It also gives you the freedom to feel your emotions and come back to the conversation when you have calmed down.
2. Start by saying, “I respect your opinion.”
I can’t tell you how many times my spouse and I have discovered how different we really are and praised God for our uniqueness. Did you know that different opinions can exist even if you are married? I didn’t know when I got married. I naively thought that maybe there was something wrong with our relationship if we didn’t have the same opinion on a certain topic.
vocabulary.com describes an opinion as “…a belief or attitude about something that is not necessarily based on fact. It is your opinion that a dog is a better pet than a cat, but your sister thinks a cat is better.” Unfortunately, your parents are of the opinion that pets are too expensive. ”
Looking at the example above, you can see that each individual in this family has really different opinions about cats (so do my husband and I!). Our kids think a few cats would be a great addition to our home. I like the idea of adopting a cat because my kids love it, but her husband jokes that the day we get the cat is the day we move into the garage. We have different opinions about cats, but we all love each other very much.
So the next time you and your spouse disagree about the best way to discipline your child because you disagree on the issue at hand, say, “I respect your opinion. It’s time to pray about this.” I just need .” That way they know their opinion matters to you. They also know that you care more about God’s opinion than your own, so it’s important to have a fresh mind (and perhaps a new perspective) after sharing your opinion with Heavenly Father in prayer. ) to return to the conversation. Even if you disagree, you both want what is best for your child, and you can always keep that in mind, even if you disagree.
3. Start by saying, “Okay.”
In our marriages, I am reminded many times of small disagreements escalating into wildfire simply because one or both of us felt misunderstood. Leading with “I understand what you’re saying” and repeating what your spouse just told you is a great way to keep the discussion from spiraling where it shouldn’t be. When I was newly married, I felt that if my spouse didn’t understand why I was angry with him, he probably didn’t love me. We all want to be understood as much as we want to be loved. When our spouses understand us, we can feel accepted by them and ultimately feel loved and respected by them.
How many times have you wished your spouse would have said, “Okay,” when you got upset about something? I think she wouldn’t have gone to bed angry then. These two words are powerful in our marriage and our relationship with our growing children. Remember that Jesus came to earth. By doing so, Jesus understood our sorrow and knew our sorrow (Isaiah 53:3). Even if our spouse doesn’t understand how we feel, it’s comforting to know that the Lord does.
As imperfect humans, we don’t always treat our spouses with respect when we’re angry. That’s exactly what we learn by experience. Through disagreements, we learn how our responses affect our spouses in the first place. What her husband says to me might get me in a lot of frustration, but he doesn’t care if I do the same thing. We need to work on the response and pay attention to how it affects our spouses. One last tip: My husband and I have refused to have stressful conversations when we are tired, hungry, or when our kids are screaming. We have learned that if basic needs such as sleep, food, and a peaceful environment are not currently being met, we will not respond well to each other.
If there is one scripture that you can ponder on how you should respond to your spouse when you are upset, I think you need look no further. Ephesians 4:31-32: “Let every bitterness, anger, wrath, cry, and slander, with all malice, turn away from you. and forgive each other.”
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Pro Stock Studio
Kari Dawson I graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a BA in English and a minor in Journalism and Communications. She is a school teacher, Pilates instructor, and mom of two young children and a beautiful baby born in 2020. She’s married to a real-life superhero. When she’s not holding her little hand or searching for her raised hand, I find her writing passionately about her faith and her family. For more about her, you can find her on her Faith, Family, Freelance on her Facebook.