By Cindy Singleton
How do you respond when your husband pushes your hot button? Here’s my story, and steps to encourage you.
Even after 43 years of marriage to a man I deeply love and respect, I still experience moments that take me by surprise and bring out the worst in me. A careless word, facial gesture or certain tone of voice can push a button that sends me reeling.
I call them “hot button” events. That’s when my husband says or does something that causes me to react strongly or improperly.
In the early years of our marriage, I dismissed my hot button responses by joking, “My husband brings out the worst in me.” Now I realize it’s true. He does bring out the worst in me, and that truth is a powerful tool God has used to change my heart.
Like the fine layer of dust that sits unnoticed on my coffee table until a sliver of afternoon sun shines a light on it, my marriage exposes the worst in me so God can remove it and, in turn, bring out the best in me.
The heart of the issue
When my husband says or does something that leaves me frustrated, angry, impatient or fighting a myriad of other emotions, I’m tempted to blame him for “making” me feel that way. But the truth is, no matter what kind of behavior prompted my response, my reactions can reveal a lot about what’s in my own heart.
That’s why it’s important to choose the best response when our buttons are pushed.
Three ways to respond when your hot button is pushed
We can throw up the “stop” hand, stand with arms crossed, tune out or retreat to a bedroom. When we bail, we choose the easy way out. (And, we get bonus points because it looks like we won!)
But bailing makes us losers. Every time. Only by staying are we forced to deal with the real issues and examine what might be lurking in our own hearts.
“And why quibble about the speck in someone else’s eye—his little fault—when a board is in your own? How can you think of saying to him, ‘Brother, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the board in yours? Hypocrite! First get rid of the board, and then perhaps you can see well enough to deal with his speck!” (Luke 6:41-42, TLB).
(Of course, there are destructive relationships that may require you to leave or erect boundaries for the sake of your physical or emotional health. But those relationships aren’t just sprinkled with hot button moments. They’re harmful or even dangerous, and you need to consult with a counselor or pastor ASAP.)
2. Stay with arms crossed.
In a holy fit of self-righteousness, we can decide our husband’s behavior merits less of us. In other words, we can withdraw our compassion and dish out iciness or, better yet, the silent treatment.
When we withdraw, we lose the opportunity to change ourselves and perhaps to help our husbands see areas where they may need to change, too. By throwing up a wall, we say, in effect, we’re no longer willing to work as a team or to grow in mercy, patience, and endurance.
Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. (Col. 3:12-13, HCSB)
3. See hot buttons as a gift from God
When a hot button is pushed, the best thing we can do is take our eyes off the offending behavior and look deep inside our own hearts.
When we’re brave enough to look inside ourselves, God will show us if there’s something lurking that doesn’t belong there. And then we can experience his gracious, sanctifying work as he removes from our hearts what we’re willing to surrender.
Although bailing or withdrawing is easier, it’s important to remember convenience rarely produces character. Instead, character is produced by hard work. In marriage, that means using difficulties to expose our own flaws.
Stop being mean, bad-tempered, and angry. Quarreling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in your lives. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ. (Eph 4:31-32, TLB)
What are your hot buttons? What makes you overreact with anger, bitterness, frustration, or impatience? What makes you feel defensive?
Look a little deeper.
Take those issues to the Lord and ask him if there’s something in your own heart that needs to be removed or healed. Pray “test me, LORD, and try me; examine my heart and mind” (Psalm 26:2, HCSB).
Wife Step: Enter observation mode and ask God to help you identify your hot button issues this week. Study your reactions and pray over what you discover.
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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