Managing Moods In Marriage

Moodiness is the kind of behavior you expect from a child or an adolescent – little children with their lower lips hanging out; adolescents withdrawing and sulking in silence. Yet, many adults behave this way toward their spouses.

REASONS FOR MOODINESS

The reasons for moodiness in marriage are many and very complex, but basically the moody person has never achieved personal happiness and never developed more mature ways of dealing with stress and conflict.

The history of a moody person often reveals one of two things: either an over indulged childhood or an overly restricted childhood. As an adult, the overly indulged child is likely to go into an angry or irritable mood; the overly restricted child, a sullen, depressed mood. Overly restrictive parents produce children that as adults cannot stand themselves. And overly indulgent parents produce children that grow up to be adults that other people cannot stand.

When we talk about living with a moody person, we are talking about living with a person who goes into these kinds of moods several times a month, if not two or three times a week.

Do not try to make a moody person happy. Only God can help them achieve a maturity that makes their moods unnecessary. Bringing to your moody spouse a person who is happy much, if not most, of the time is the best you can do for him or her.

God knows how to bring balance into our lives. Only He and the moody person can work out the issues related to personal happiness. For after all, as Solomon tells us in Proverbs 23:7, “As he thinks in his heart, so is he.” We think ourselves into moods. The most important “conversation” I carry on is with myself – I can talk myself into moods, and out of moods.

If you are married to a moody spouse, give him or her time to recover from the mood. Confronting him or her while he or she is in the mood will only intensify the problem. Give him or her time and space.

JEALOUSY AND INSECURITY

Jealousy and insecurity can be a problem for both husbands and wives. Both partners suffer.

There actually is a “good” or healthy kind of jealousy. We get a picture of good jealousy over and over in the Old Testament when it says God is “jealous” of Israel. He loves and protects the nation from going off to false gods. Healthy jealousy like this protects a relationship. A spouse should not resent protective jealousy.

If there is suspicion of an affair, the spouse needs to pray and do some discreet “detective work.” If there truly is an affair giving grounds for the jealousy, that affair needs to be dealt with. It is never healthy for a couple to experience an affair, but if the crisis of the affair changes the adulterous mate, and changes the marriage, many times in the future a couple can look back on that crisis and see that the adulterous partner found the Lord as a result of this crisis.

The devil can take healthy jealousy and turn it into something that brings bondage into the marriage. But you can trust God and be secure in God’s love and your spouse’s love.

HONESTY OR DECEIT?

Sometimes, even among Christians, honesty can be difficult. Some spouses are so moody – so sensitive or so critical – that their spouse is downright afraid to be honest with him or her.

Of course there are little things in every marriage where both partners are not totally truthful with each other. For example, slightly lowering the cost of a questionable purchase, or exaggerating or hedging on real feelings to keep from offending and hurting each other. But you need to be careful with these “discretionary” instances. For example, a husband may find himself noticing another woman; and the devil can use this to distract him from his wife. The Holy Spirit can help you transform such distracting fantasies into fantasies focused on your wife.

I believe it is important for husbands and wives to have a “covenant with each other’s eyes,” that is, knowing when they are away from each other that the other person’s “eyes,” the eye of their heart, is on them.

Above all, a marriage cannot be based on deceit. The marriage has to be built on trust, and that trust is built on honesty. But how easy do you make it for your spouse to be honest with you? Learn to be totally open and honest with God first, then He will help you become a loving, accepting person with whom your spouse can feel completely safe being honest.

SUNNY OR MOSTLY CLOUDY?

Whether you have a sunny or dark view of life is determined by the way you have chosen to view the events of your life over the years (see Proverbs 23:7). The habits of the heart are learned very early in life.

Picture in your mind a wheel. Call it the wheel of experience and divide it into six sections, just as you might divide a pie:

Section 1: Sensations. These are the things that you hear, see, smell, touch, and taste.

Section 2: Life history. This includes the moment in time you were born, your family, your nation, the position in your birth order, all the traumas you have experienced, all that goes into your life to make you unique.

Section 3: Interpretation. The sensations of life are filtered through your personal history and you interpret them accordingly. We do not live with the facts of our lives; we live with what we tell ourselves about the facts of our lives!

Section 4: Emotions. You develop a pool of emotional feelings and responses to the facts of your life.

Section 5: Intentions. You can look at what has happened to you in the past and choose to see it positively or negatively. The Lord has a creative way to help you view even the most destructive things that have happened to you. The devil is bent on selling you the most destructive possible interpretation of even the most positive possible facts of your life.

Section 6: Behavior. Out of our interpretations and emotions come our intentions, and out of that comes our behavior.

GREAT WALL OF SILENCE

Couples can build walls of silence between them that create a kind of marital “cold war” and tragic division in their marriages.

We go through times of learning to communicate. We might go to bed without resolving problems and cling to separate sides of the bed in silence. And when such silence begins, neither partner wants that kind of wall of silence to develop. But what began as a power play becomes a wall of silence. And neither partner is willing to ask the other how long he or she is going to go on without speaking.

I do not think very many couples understand how divorce really occurs. Divorce does not begin on the date that is on the divorce paper, it begins the first night a couple goes to bed unreconciled. They go to sleep that first night struggling and knowing they are not pleasing God. Their consciences hurt them, but their pride often keeps them from reaching out to each other because they fear rejection or refusal by their spouse.

Such hardening of the heart is turned first toward the spouse, then when they go to church and refuse God’s tug on their hearts toward reconciliation, their hearts become hardened toward Him.

When Jesus got into a debate with the Pharisees about divorce, they said that Moses allowed them to put their wives away and asked Him about it (see Matthew 19:3-9). He said that Moses allowed divorce, but that from the beginning divorce was never in God’s plan for marriage. But divorce begins with couple’s neglecting their relationship and allowing long periods of time between them when they are unreconciled with each other and to God.

To end this battle of silence, a couple first need to become aware that neither is winning the war. They are both losing. Secondly, one or both need to become aware that his or her silence is grieving the Lord. Sometimes, in order for the Lord to work in the situation, it takes something as simple as one person asking the other, “How long are we going to go without talking to each other?”