By Jess Robichaud
The fear trap affects almost all marriages. Here’s how it affected mine.
We were on one of our nightly walks through the neighborhood. Talking already for a couple of hours about our future and what the next few years might look like…when all of sudden, something shifted. I could feel the disconnect in the pit of my stomach.
We weren’t on the same page about some next steps–our next place to live, buying or renting, finances, etc.
I began to be a bit short-tempered with my husband and began making my hopes, desires, and expectations bigger than they actually were.
Do you ever find yourself doing that? Feeling that your expectations might not be met or that your spouse might be on a different page, then choosing to talk more rigidly about your expectations…and inflating them, as if that will help things?
When I feel scared, I do.
Recognizing The Fear Trap in Marriage
My husband and I both have very strong personalities with very strong opinions. When we feel that the other one isn’t on the same page, we begin polarizing each other, holding tighter and tighter to our own rigid expectations.
I finally looked at him and said, “I think we are both talking out of fear right now.” Fear that we won’t be on the same page moving forward. Fear that our desires will clash with one another. Fear that the other person won’t be flexible (which is ironically funny, considering we can both be pretty rigid).
Fear is an incredibly powerful emotion. It has the ability to weasel its way into the very fibers of a marriage, subtly cutting what holds a husband and wife together.
Fear increases selfishness, directs our attention away from God, and pushes us to abandon any sense of rational thought.
When you think about past arguments or struggles with your spouse, where do you see fear at the core?
Let’s talk about what to do from there.
Shine a light and name the fear.
“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” – Ephesians 5:13 (NIV)
Allow yourself to feel the fear. Acknowledge it and name it. This will shine light and bring truth and clarity. When we name the fear, then we can push through and conquer it, rather than merely tiptoe around it.
Share that fear with the Lord.
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18 (NIV)
God wants to hear our hearts. He wants to sit in the fear with us and help us to wrestle through it.
Honesty. Transparency. Authenticity.
This is what God wants. He wants your heart. In being open with Him and surrendering the struggle, He can help to heal that struggle and restore unity with Him and your spouse.
Talk and share your fears with each other.
Being vulnerable and sharing our innermost fears with our spouse will build incredible emotional intimacy. Sharing and listening gently and truly seeking to understand one another will anchor a marriage in trust, security and safety.
Slow down and take things one step at a time.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
Remember you don’t have to have everything figured out right now. Part of being on an adventure with God is trusting Him even though we can’t see the journey or the destination. He has a plan and He will guide and direct us. We only need to submit our hearts to Him.
Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.
Let go of rigid expectations.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
We don’t need to hold onto our expectations when we trust that God is truly in control. He is FOR us and He is WITH us.
By releasing these expectations and trusting the Lord, we gain true peace.
Recognize the Enemy
In the midst of working through fear, don’t allow the enemy to taint your perspective of your spouse. Even though they might not agree with you, if they are submitted to the Lord, that’s all that matters.
Remember this: The journey is more important than the end result.
The journey of trusting God, giving Him our fear, and working through that fear with our spouse…these are all much more important.
Wife Step: Ask yourself this question: Where is fear playing into my interactions with my husband?
Jess is passionate about helping couples have an awesome marriage built on the foundation of Christ. Out of their own marriage struggles, Jess and her husband, Adam, founded Radiant Marriage to challenge and encourage couples towards deep levels of intimacy with each other and with the Lord. Jess is also a marriage and family therapist intern where she walks with couples through trauma to bring healing. Together with her husband, their main goal is to radiate the love of Christ and bring hope to couples in the midst of difficulty.