When two people become as close as they do in marriage, there are bound to be a few frustrations here and there. If you want to deal with them calmly and lovingly, there a few things that you should NOT do!
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“The state trooper got me.”
I was in the kitchen on a Tuesday morning, trying to get my breakfast ready so I could eat before my daughter needed to go down for her nap, when I got that text from my husband. My mind immediately jumped to frustration.
“You weren’t wearing your seat belt, were you? Or were you speeding? Maybe you didn’t stop all the way at the stop sign. We really can’t afford to pay a ticket right now. You need to be more careful when you’re driving!”
Thankfully, my fingers can’t type as fast as my mind works, so I gave my response a little more thought before I typed it out. Hiding my frustration, I responded.
“Oh no! For what?”
“Brake light out. Got a warning.”
A brake light out. That’s all it was. It wasn’t even Caleb’s fault. And he didn’t get a ticket, just a warning.
Imagine if I had responded in my frustration. He would have been hurt, I would have felt bad, and it would have created conflict between us. But instead of jumping to conclusions, I gave him a chance to tell me what happened, and we later laughed about my initial frustration.
Caleb and I don’t fight. We’re not perfect and sometimes we get frustrated with each other, but we have some specific things that we choose not to do when we become frustrated. These strategies keep us focused on each other and the love and respect that we have for each other, and they help us to work through our situations with a clear mind.
#1: Don’t jump to conclusions
As you saw in my story, that was the first thing I did. I jumped to conclusions and assumed that Caleb did something wrong when, in reality, he was not at fault. Thankfully, I chose to react with an understanding attitude, and my conclusions were proven wrong.
When we jump to conclusions, we assume the worst in our spouse and in the situation. We think that we know what happened or what they’re feeling. This is pride. We think that we know best. We are valuing our thoughts and our beliefs above our spouse’s.
But love is not proud. Love is understanding. Love gives the other person a chance to share their side of the story before making a judgement. To avoid frustration turning into an argument or a fight, show love to your spouse and give them a chance to speak before you jump to conclusions.
#2: Don’t talk to others first
Having a mentor, confidant, counselor, or friend that you can discuss frustrations and problems with is a blessing in life. There may be times when it’s appropriate to discuss marital problems with these people, but it is NEVER appropriate to discuss your marital frustrations with someone else before you discuss them with your spouse.
One of the reasons you shouldn’t talk to others first is because they may not know the situation very well, so they can’t give you the best advice for your specific situation. The other main reason is because they may fuel the fire behind your frustrations instead of helping to alleviate them.
I don’t mean to say that this person is meaning to undermine your marriage. However, they are only human, and they may be having a bad day. If you begin to share frustrations about your spouse, they may validate them, which will only cause you to become more frustrated.
On the other hand, if you talk to your spouse first and work through your frustrations, you can then discuss them with your mentor or friend with a clear mind. They can encourage you and help you learn to manage your frustrations even better the next time.
And while we’re on the topic of talking to others, it is also NEVER appropriate to share your marital frustrations on social media. Before writing this post, I checked with my husband to see if he was comfortable sharing this story. Even if you think a situation is humorous or not a big deal, respect your spouse enough to not share it on social media.
#3: Don’t deal with it all on your own
When I become emotionally overwhelmed, I tend to bottle up my feelings. I replay the situation over and over in my head, my frustrations growing each time. I keep my thoughts to myself and don’t share what I’m feeling.
In a marriage, that is not healthy. I’ve learned to share what I’m feeling with Caleb, even if it’s not warm, fuzzy feelings. When I share these frustrated thoughts or emotions, we talk through them and figure out a solution. Usually, I amplified the frustrations in my head and made it out to be worse than it was, so we are able to resolve the problem quickly.
Could you imagine if I bottled up those feelings for months or years and they all came out at once? Dealing with these frustrations on your own is not a way to grow a healthy marriage. You need to share what you’re feeling with your spouse. They should be your confidant, your safe space, your best friend. Talk to them and work through it.
Working through frustrations in prayer is another way that our marriage flourishes. When we take our hurts and our upset hearts to God, He lifts us up, encourages us, and gives us discernment as to what we need to fix. Praying for, about, and with each other is the best way to handle any marital situation.
#4: Don’t refuse to forgive
You know when someone hurts you and you get mad at them? And then they take steps to fix it and make it better, but you just don’t want to forgive them? I think we’ve all been there, but that is not the best way to treat your spouse.
If you want to have a healthy marriage full of joy and peace, you have to forgive. It doesn’t matter what your spouse did. If you refuse to forgive, love cannot grow. You are allowing a wall to be built between you and your spouse, and that will only cause more frustrations and conflict.
#5: Don’t bring it up later
Here’s the thing. Once you forgive, it’s gone. It’s done. That frustration, that conflict, that situation, it can’t ever be brought up again.
This may be the most important thing not to do. When we get frustrated with one thing, it’s tempting to start listing all the other things our spouse has done that frustrated us. Why? Because misery loves company. If you’re frustrated about one thing, why not be frustrated about 472 things? Surely that would be better, right?
It makes things infinitely worse.
If you’re frustrated with your spouse, that’s understandable. It happens. But focus on working through that frustration, and ONLY that frustration. Once the two of you have worked through it and forgiven each other, don’t pick it back up. Take a cue from Disney, and just let it go. 😉
I don’t claim to have a perfect marriage, but the fact that we work through our frustrations before they turn to conflict is something that I’m proud of. The next time frustration comes in your marriage, try to avoid these things and see how much better it all works out.
How do you work through frustrations in your marriage? What would you add to this list of things not to do? Leave me a comment and let me know!
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