Editor’s Note: This devotional is the second of a two-part series on handling emotions for married couples. You can find “5 Scriptures on Managing Emotions Every Wife Should Know” by clicking here!
There are many deep lessons we can learn from spending time with our children.
One came about for me a couple of weeks ago when we were watching The Little Mermaid as a family. My wife and I started laughing hysterically at the following part of the movie.
We both agreed that this is what I sound like when I let my emotions get out of control: I’m anxious, unclear, and easily frustrated with people around me for not understanding what I think I am eloquently expressing.
Learning to manage emotions is important for everyone, but in this devotional I will focus specifically on husbands. Why? As husbands, we have to be able to understand and manage our own emotions in a healthy way if we want to learn to love our wives the way the Bible calls us to.
Husbands, love your wives [seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love], just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.Ephesians 5:25 AMP
Emotions play a key role in how we connect with people. I am often led by my emotions, which leaves me self-focused and distant from my wife. I end up so full of my own feelings that I have little space for anyone but myself.
I am learning that taking my feelings to God not only deepens my relationship with him, but also gives me more bandwidth to connect with, attach to, and love my wife.
In this devotional, we will study five scriptures and ask ourselves five questions that will help us know how we can manage our emotions as husbands.
Am I emotionally aware?
Look closely at me, LORD, and test me. Judge my deepest thoughts and emotions.Psalm 26:2 ERV
In this verse, the psalmist invites God to discover and judge his deepest thoughts and emotions. He is willing to have his deepest emotions brought to the surface.
I think what the psalmist is describing is emotional awareness. Instead of leaving his emotions buried deep beneath the surface, he invites God to examine them. He lets God probe these emotions, a process which will certainly include becoming aware of these emotions himself.
Emotional awareness is one of the necessary components of intimate relationships—and that includes our relationship with God and our marriage.
Throughout my life, I have trained myself to detach and suppress painful emotions. After losing my mother as a teenager, I remember making a clear decision to avoid attaching relationally to anyone else. I never wanted to experience that amount of pain again. This choice led me to being emotionally superficial.
From the relationships I chose to the conversations I had and the movies I watched, everything had to be “fun.” I refused to watch any movies besides comedies, telling myself that life was sad enough. I stayed far away from anything that could potentially bring up the feelings I was so desperately trying to stuff.
This emotional superficiality led me to become emotionally unaware. I was out of touch with my own feelings. That lack of awareness made me emotionally immature, which made me less emotionally stable and more prone to letting my emotions take control of my life.
Much like Ephesians 4 describes, my immaturity led me to be tossed and blown around like the wind:
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching.Ephesians 4:14 NLT
When I am not managing my emotions well, being “tossed around” can look like being indecisive and leaving the burden of decision making to my wife, getting moody and affecting the entire house’s mood with mine, or giving up on having deep conversations and doing whatever seems easier at any given moment.
I find that emotions like sadness, fear, and loneliness can be hard for me to want to identify or discuss. It can be easier for me to just say I am “tired” or “angry.” While those things may be true, choosing not to go any deeper will prevent me from experiencing emotional attachment and intimacy with God and other people.
Pause and reflect
- What emotions do you have a hard time identifying and admitting to God and your spouse? (Hint: it’s not always being tired or angry).
- How does your level of emotional awareness impact your marriage?
- Over the next week, choose to pray daily and with the help of an emotions chart, make sure to take time to identify and express your emotions.
- Ask your spouse what emotions she thinks you tend to avoid the most.
Do I let my emotions connect me or cut me off relationally?
We have been very open in speaking to you Corinthians. We have a place for you in our hearts. We haven’t cut you off. Your own emotions have cut you off from us. I’m talking to you as I would talk to children. Treat us the same way we’ve treated you. Make a place for us in your hearts too.2 Corinthians 6:11-13 GW
In this passage of the Bible, Paul is urging the Corinthians to open their hearts and make a place for them. He tells them that the way they are handling their emotions is creating distance in their relationship with him.
Indeed, when we choose not to be vulnerable about how we feel, we cut ourselves off relationally from people instead of being connected with them.
A few days ago, as I started feeling sad and afraid, my first instinct was to isolate myself. My wife caught on to it and could tell something was going on. She proceeded to ask me how I was feeling. Instead of opening up to her, I chose to hide what I was feeling and keep the conversation superficial.
We later talked more about it and she expressed how she feels distant when I choose to not be honest about my feelings. On the contrary, the times when I choose to vulnerably express my emotions to her, she feels close to and connected with me.
Pause and reflect
- What do I need to be more vulnerable about with my spouse?
- Take time to express vulnerably to your wife the emotions you’ve been feeling lately.
- Ask her about her emotions and how she’s been processing them.
Am I dealing with my anxieties?
Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7 GW
It can be easy to let anxiety run our lives without even realizing it. Sometimes I find myself in such a habit of pushing through and ignoring the stress of life that I don’t notice how it is affecting me. Usually, being full of worry leads me to be more irritable, cynical, impatient, and unavailable.
Philippians 4 teaches us here that we can turn our worries into prayer. When we choose to express our needs to God, while being grateful for what he has done, we get a chance to experience God’s peace.
That peace guards our emotions and helps us to learn how to manage them instead of being swept up by them.
Pause and reflect
- What are some things you need help with in your life? How often do you boldly request the things you need from God?
- How often do you reflect and thank God for all the things he has done and continually does to take care of you?
Am I emotionally available?
One important question to ask ourselves as husbands is how emotionally available we are to our wives. Being physically present at home but emotionally absent will not lead to closeness and connection.
In the next section of the article, we will discuss how to increase our emotional availability, but for now, let’s reflect on what has been taking up most of our emotional bandwidth.
Some of the things that easily take up too much of my emotional bandwidth are:
- My desire to feel secure from my performance at work
- My hobbies, interests, and personal comfort
- My envy of the things people around me have and I don’t have
Regardless of where we invest our emotions, we have to remember that we have a finite stock and can’t be overly concerned with everything. I think it’s important to regularly reflect on what has become our top priority, so that we can readjust and prioritize the right things. Otherwise, we risk neglecting the things that matter most, including our relationship with God and with our spouse.
Husbands, love your wives [with an affectionate, sympathetic, selfless love that always seeks the best for them] and do not be embittered or resentful toward them [because of the responsibilities of marriage].Colossians 3:19 AMP
As we learn from this verse of Colossians 3, as husbands, we are called to love our wives with affectionate, sympathetic, and selfless love. In the same way we learn that we should be affectionate towards them, this passage also warns us that we shouldn’t get resentful towards them because of the responsibilities of marriage.
I see myself getting resentful of my wife because of my lack of emotional availability. It’s not that she requires too much, it’s just that my emotional bandwidth is very limited because I don’t have my priorities and responsibilities in the right order.
Reevaluating our priorities does mean that we are going to have to invest our emotional energy less in other things in order to be more giving at home.
How can you tell you’re not emotionally available in your marriage? These are some signs I have seen in my life that my emotional bandwidth is overloaded with other things:
- I get resentful when my wife expresses her emotions in a way that doesn’t fit my comfort level.
- I avoid bringing up specific topics that I know need to be addressed but could involve some emotionally engaging conversations I don’t want to have.
- I quickly try to fix whatever issues she brings up instead of listening to her and how she feels.
Choosing to be emotionally available for our wives will lead to them feeling cared for and loved and will help us to grow closer in our marriage.
Pause and reflect
- What takes up most of your emotional bandwidth?
- What will you need to say no to in order to be emotionally available at home?
- How will being more emotionally available benefit your marriage?
How can I expand my emotional bandwidth?
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.Hebrews 5:7-8 NRSV
As we have discussed throughout this devotional, emotions can lead us closer to or further away from God and other relationships, depending on how we manage them.
Jesus gives us an inspiring example of how to take our emotions to God. This passage shows us how Jesus was emotionally aware and vulnerable. He prayed with loud cries and tears. He felt strong emotions, and he learned to submit them to God and still do what God wanted him to. How did he learn this? Through what he suffered.
I recently listened to the podcast episode “In God Alone” which discussed how to build a stronger relationship with God. During the conversation, the topic of emotions was brought up and there was a great segment on the process it takes to increase our emotional capacity.
This can be done as the scripture teaches us, through honest prayers that push us past what we believe we are capable of handling.
There are a great deal of life-changing lessons to be learned from times of suffering. Too often, I want to ignore and numb out my pain instead of letting it lead me closer to God. The more we let our suffering lead us to God in prayer, the more emotional bandwidth we will develop and the stronger God will make us internally.
Pause and reflect
- What sufferings are currently in my life that I can embrace and learn from?
- How will I start praying about that pain and let it change me to become more obedient to God?
Learning to become more emotionally aware, connected, and available will lead us to grow in our emotional bandwidth. As our emotional bandwidth grows, we will be able to love God and our spouse in a deeper way.
Check out the following reading suggestions to take a deeper dive into the journey of managing our emotions better:
- 2 Corinthians is a great book that can teach us how to vulnerably express our emotions and get internally stronger.
- Using a digital Bible, look up passages in the Bible about the Apostle Peter. He was led by his emotions at times, but learned a great deal from his mistakes.
- Listen to the podcast episode, “In God Alone” and take special note of the segments on increasing your emotional capacity.