Connecting in the Heat of the Moment
By: Amanda Idleman
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. - Colossians 3:12
At all times in our marriages, we need to connect heart-to-heart, which means connecting emotionally before anything else.
Have you ever had an argument that started only because your spouse offered too many “solutions” to your problem? Usually, for me, this looks like my husband jumping in to explain the “right” approach to a situation before I’ve even got the end of my lament. Rather than seeing the wisdom of his words, a brawl erupts because I interpret his “helpfulness” as another reason I am wrong in my already stressed state. We all hit this wall from time to time because most couples struggle to acknowledge that you have to connect heart-to-heart because mixing heart-to-head just doesn’t work.
It’s the same principle that is at work when you try to reason with a mad and crying two-year-old; they can’t hear you because their brains are stuck in emotion mode. You have to help them calm down before you can talk to them about the reasons why certain boundaries exist. Unfortunately, our bodies grow but our brain doesn’t change much in this regard. We may not cry and scream when we are feeling overwhelmed (although it’s not entirely out of the question). Nonetheless, we need our spouses to connect with us emotionally, help us sort through our emotions first before looking for logical solutions.
What does it look like to first connect heart-to-heart when we are in the heat of a stressful moment? We first and foremost need the power of God that gives us tenderness, gentleness, kindness, humility, and lots of patience that Colossians talks about. While we all aspire to offer our spouses these sorts of responses, without the help of Jesus our selfish and impatient human nature wins out way more than we would like. He is our source of strength and wisdom when either ourselves or our spouse face difficult emotions.
Practically living out these traits most times looks like you offer a listening ear. Basically, connecting heart-to-head happens when one person shares and the other person interjects too much of themselves and their own opinions into their spouse's issue. Not only does being willing to listen fully and empathize show kindness and care for each other, it also saves you from wasting your solutions to deaf ears. If you are willing to be patient there likely will be a moment that you both can think together, head-to-head, about how to solve the problem, but if you jump there before your spouse is ready your words probably won’t be heard.
We need to use tenderness when our spouse is facing a situation where they are struggling to navigate. When you do choose to speak, use affirming words that let them know that you hear them and see that they are burdened. Remind them you are on their team and even if what they face is challenging, they are not on their own.
If you are the one feeling the weight of heavy emotions strive to name them as clearly as you can. I am absolutely terrible at this! In an effort to improve at articulating my overwhelming emotions I actually printed out a list of emotions and hung it on our fridge. If you are like me and your emotions come on quickly and with fury, but you truly struggle to say what you feel, then you have to really put effort to grow in this area. This is a skill that you have to intentionally practice for it to be a part of your normal. When you hear yourself sounding short or feel tension in your body make yourself pause and come up with at least one word to describe how you are feeling. Let your spouse hear you so they can give you the gift of connecting heart-to-heart, which will help bring that tidal wave of emotion under control.
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes about all things motherhood for Richmond Macaroni Kid, creates devotions for Daily Bible Devotions App, she has work published with Her View from Home, is contributing to a couples devotional for Crosswalk, and is a regular contributor for the marriage/family/homeschool/parenting channels on Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda at rvahouseofjoy.com or follow her on Instagram at rvahouseofjoy.
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