I don’t know about you, but when my husband and I have an argument or disagreement, my first inclination is to hash it out with him until I feel peaceful in our relationship again. The problem with this scenario is my peace is dependent on finding peace in our relationship. Even though I have an amazing husband and we practice relational skills, neither of us is perfect, and we are not meant to be the source of each other’s peace.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop my knee-jerk reaction of looking to Chris and our relationship for peace, especially the peace that comes from his acknowledging what he did wrong, apologizing, and promising never to make the same mistake again! (I jest, but in the moment that is what feels the most true.)
Thankfully, I am learning to slow down and take our disagreements and my hurts to my Heavenly Father for a dose of His peace and perspective.
The other night, Chris and I had a frustrating interaction about his trip to the store that left us both feeling judged and misunderstood. I stalked out of the room muttering something under my breath that I prefer not to repeat.
I went to our room and started talking to God.* I started with my frustration and hurt, telling God about Chris’s faults. (As a side note, this is not a productive way to process with God. Focusing on what the other person did wrong will keep us stuck in non-relational mode and doesn’t give much room to notice what God might want us to know.) Thankfully, my tirade didn’t last long before I shifted into a more open mindset and asked for God’s help seeing my part in the interaction and why I reacted so strongly. Soon I started to see my part as well as what else was going on in me that made his comment so hurtful.
After I felt a measure of peace, I asked Chris if I could share with him what I learned about our interaction. He agreed. I apologized for overreacting and explained why my feelings were hurt. He received what I shared but didn’t have capacity to talk about the bigger underlying issue. We repaired, but I still didn’t feel satisfied or peaceful.
I was able to go back to God and receive His full peace despite things still feeling unresolved with Chris and me. I realized that I didn’t need anything more from Chris, that what I had needed was more of God’s peace about the aspects of the problem that cannot be changed. I drifted off to sleep peacefully.
In retrospect, right before bed was not the right timing for me to share my insights with Chris, especially since he was clearly tired and ready for bed. Also, I was still hoping for some further resolution with Chris and not realizing what was lacking was more of God’s peace.
The next time you have a falling out with your spouse (or even a friend), I encourage you to go to God first and get relational with Him. Look for your peace in God and ask Him what he wants you to know about your part in the problem. The result of looking for peace in your spouse is resentment and disappointment, but that doesn’t mean your spouse is off the hook! A little validation and comfort goes a long way towards feeling seen and cared for in the midst of a problem. For more on this, pick up a copy of 4 Habits of Joy-filled Marriages and practice Habit 2, Listening for Emotion.