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Marriage 911 07/25/17

5 Bible-based Secrets to Making Your Marriage Last

Senior couple dancing together

I've frequently said, "It takes one to tango," and believe, fortunately, that one person can do much to create and maintain emotional harmony in a marriage.

Some might disagree with me. Some might say, "I can only clean my side of the street and my mate must do their part." While this is true, we cannot make our mate do anything. We can manage our lives and in doing so we can have a huge impact on our mate.

To get help for your marriage from Dr. Hawkins and his qualified staff, please visit The Marriage Recovery Center website or call 206-219-0145.

Consider a couple I worked with recently. Jeff and Danielle have been married for 15 years and have struggled for most of them. They've developed patterns of interacting that hurt them and must change.

"We debated for so long, over so many days, that I could hardly see straight," Danielle shared, referring to the conflict she had been having with her husband, Jeff.

"Did you do anything to manage your emotions during those days?" I asked.

Danielle looked at me incredulously.

"How do you do that?" she said. "We dive into certain topics and before we know it we're in emotional quicksand," she continued. "Every word he says makes me react and everything I say seems to make him react. We're two over-reactive people sinking deeper and deeper into conflict."

Jeff had been sitting quietly.

"I can't imagine doing things differently," he said. "We've been doing things this way for so long, it's hard to change."

"But imagine if one of you, only one of you, decided they were not going to fight? What if one of you insisted on maintaining emotional balance, keeping things calm, and taking a time out of things even began to get heated? Can you imagine the impact that would have?" 

Emotional reactivity often involves two people. Rollercoaster emotions often involves two people, getting bent out of shape by things we have little control over. These are all symptoms of emotional imbalance and the need for emotional balance.

Let's consider some action steps one person—or two—can take to bring stability to a challenging emotional situation:

1. Agree to maintain emotional balance in every conversation.

Make a decision that your marriage must change. It cannot change unless one or both of you change. You must do things differently. Emotions are e-motions, "energy in motion", and as such can be used for constructive purposes or be boundless energy that is quite destructive. Be aware of your emotional makeup. You must become familiar with your patterns before you can change them.

2. Agree that you are each responsible for yourself.

Because most of us tend to be reactive, we seldom watch our emotional reactions. We're caught up in whatever is taking place externally, failing to monitor/keep watch over our emotions. Responsibly note your patterns and what must change. Track your daily moods and emotions, as well as, patterns and trends in your emotional makeup.

3. Embrace emotional balance.

Take responsibility in not allowing your emotions to rule your reactions. I've noted that it takes far less time to feel than it does to think, but it is critical we consider every situation, using our God-given wisdom to rule our behavior. If you've had problems with anger or emotional volatility, vigorously pursue emotional balance.

4. Be quick to reset and start again.

Making quick apologies for any emotional reactivity will assist you not only in taking responsibility for it, but recognizing the impact emotional reactivity has on those around you. Make an effort to stop, take a break, and start again later when you've regained emotional balance.

5. Critically review how you have handled each situation and make plans for correction.  

Debrief how you handled the last situation, focusing primarily on yourself. Make note of the triggers that occur and what healing may need to take place about them. Take every opportunity to keep things in perspective by taking time to think about what you want to say and how you want to act. Don't allow yourself to become emotionally reactive.

Scripture repeatedly warns us about emotional reactivity. We are warned about excessive anger, encouraged to be "quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." (James 1:19) Solomon said, "Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city." (Proverbs 16:32)

Are you ready for emotional balance in your marriage? If you would like more information on cultivating emotional balance, we are here to help. Share your feedback below or send us a confidential note and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center. On our website, you'll find videos and podcasts on saving a troubled marriage, our special Marriage Intensives, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.

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