By Cindy Singleton
What’s better than venting? I have a tip to share that will help bring peace to your marriage today.
That Time I Vented…
My husband wasn’t angry. Instead, he was pleading with me.
Just moments before, I’d let him know how frustrated, annoyed, and overwhelmed I was feeling. Our lives were busy, our three daughters were commanding more and more of my time, and something needed to change. Now.
So, in a volcanic eruption of exasperation, I’d spewed all my pent-up feelings.
But his soulful response gave me pause.
“Just tell me what you want me to do differently.”
In a nutshell, my husband wasn’t as concerned about how I felt as he was about what he should do. I was saying, “This is how I feel about the situation,” while my husband wanted to hear, “This is how you can help fix the situation.”
I don’t think my husband is much different from most husbands. When we express strong feelings without spelling out how we’d like for things to change, we can leave our husbands confused and frustrated. But we can learn to handle this differently.
3 Things That Are Better Than Venting
In my forty-plus years of marriage, I’ve found three steps for turning my strong feelings into a strategy for change:
1) Decide on a message.
When I’m all up in my feelings, I wrongly think everyone else should understand how I feel. Yet, if I’m honest, even I can be confused about what I truly feel and what I really want.
In other words, I wrongly expect my husband to read my mind. “I shouldn’t have to tell him” becomes my defense. But that’s unfair. Not only is my husband not a mind reader, but how can he be expected to sort through feelings that leave even me stumped?
That’s why it’s important for me to stay focused on the message I want my husband to hear. If I focus on my feelings, that’s all he hears. But if I focus on what I’d like to see changed, my husband is more likely to want to take action.
In other words, it’s up to me to sort through my feelings, decide what’s at the bottom of them, and then communicate that to my husband.
To clarify the message, try to remove your emotions from the conversation as much as possible. Also, work on removing any words that don’t help convey the main message.
2) Devise a plan
My husband is a fixer. He likes to understand the problem so he can come up with a solution. That’s why bombarding him with my feelings overwhelms him. He doesn’t know how to wade through them so he can get to the “here’s what to do” part.
If your husband is anything like mine, he may respond to an A-B-C plan of action. In other words, “Here are three things that can help make the situation better.”
Venting our emotions without devising a plan for change can come across as unfair. After all, no one else can wear or own our feelings. But they may be willing to fix what’s causing them if we’ve taken the time and forethought to come up with a plan of action.
3) Don’t give up
Once you’ve communicated your feelings along with a plan for change, it’s important to be patient. Give your husband time to respond.
Most importantly, pray for both of you. As you read the Scriptures, ask God to reveal the longings in your own heart. Pray, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:24, CSB).
Acknowledge any efforts your husband makes to help the situation, and be grateful for small steps.
So Much Better Than Venting
In my own marriage, there are still times when my feelings overwhelm me. I don’t always want to patiently communicate them to my husband along with a plan for change. To be honest, sometimes I’m simply outdone, and I don’t want to help my husband understand how to be helpful.
That’s when I need to be reminded of God’s patience with me. Even on my best days, I can be insensitive, defensive or way too into myself. Yet, God never gives up on me.
Instead, he speaks clearly when I open his Word. His Spirit leads me step by step. And God’s mercy abounds as I stumble, fall, and get back up again. How, then, can I withhold the same kind of grace to the man I love? He’s teaching me that going to him first is so much better than venting to my husband, and he can guide you in that path too, dear wife.
Wife Step: Think through the three steps and apply one of them this week.
A long-time Bible student and teacher, Cindy Singleton is a wife, best friend to three grown daughters, mother-in-law to two pastors, and “CeCe” to eight grandchildren. She enjoys sharing her life experiences as evidence of God’s faithfulness. When she’s not visiting Disney theme parks or planning her annual Camp CeCe, Cindy can be found writing and serving women on her blog. The Titus Woman. She’d love to connect with you on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
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