How to Navigate the Emotional Ups and Downs of your Marriage.

Jeremy, I want you to take it. This is with the wives, and this is not every wife, but we certainly get questions and hear from men who, in their relationship with their wife, the wife has emotional ups and downs, and they don’t really know how to interact with their wife in that, and so a lot of times they’ll disconnect, which is the wrong answer. So what would you say with that or how do you do that? 

Yeah. I had a really good conversation with a friend of mine, a coaching opportunity where we were talking about how he was struggling with… in this case, his wife was really having an emotional several days in a row, and he realized that, what he did in his house, he started giving up, disconnecting, wanting to be less engaged with the family, less in the house. Totally understandable, and as we talked about this, one of the things I was telling him is, “Look, for definitely the first 10 years of my marriage, man, if April was struggling with encouraging me, if she was really down and needing me to pick her up or she was in a hard emotional season, it would really just destroy my motivation to be a dad almost,” and I couldn’t quite figure out, “why is this happening?”

One of the things that I realized what’s going on in my own heart, my own head is I was like, “Hey, this is a partnership, and she is not really on her game and so it’s really bringing me down, so I just want to be in my own individual game,” and so I just would disconnect, and I would find my motivation for the family plummeting, and, of course, when one person goes down, if the other person goes down, man, that’s a really bad scenario, and I think a lot of families face this problem. One of the things that I started to realize that I was believing and that I needed this change was, instead of disconnecting, I need to level up when my wife is struggling or in a tough season emotionally. I need to take on more responsibility. I need to really see myself as, “look, hey, this is my family, and my wife is really struggling, so I’m going to lean in or step in and take more leadership.” I’m going to be more actively engaged in setting the tone and I’m not going to let my relationship with my family be dictated by the mood swings that are happening with my wife or the season she is going through.

I think this is what my wife actually needed. She needed me to step up in those moments, not to disconnect, and so that’s a really serious problem that I think can really get out of control in a lot of households. Dads have this pattern of disconnecting, so my encouragement to you guys is, hey, if your wife’s in a tough season and things are happening where you’re starting to feel the urge to disconnect and to be more and more of an individual and say, “I want to be out of this partnership emotionally,” I would really encourage you guys, level up instead of step out. That really has helped me not get involved in this destructive pattern of disconnecting during those seasons.

Yeah, it’s funny you say that. You just pretty much read my entire diary, her journal or whatever men call it in the sense of that’s exactly our marital relationship as well where, she’s not “keeping up her end of the bargain,” which there’s so many hard spots for a young mom, almost more than a dad. It’s understandable to have waves, it’s understandable to have hard spots. But I would just become really bitter, resentful or just disconnect. What I realized and God really convicted me on is I was treating the marriage very transactional. When you do something for me, I do something for you. When that’s not the spirit of Christ, that’s not the actual spirit of marriage. The actual heart of marriage is a husband dying for his wife, sacrificing for his wife, and even more so the scripture says, “Like Christ loved the church,” and the way Christ loved the church is dying for them when no one cared or wanted him.

Actually, it was when those people killed him, and he still, while being killed, said father, “Forgive them. They know not what they do,” so there’s an element that is so beautiful about that that breaks cycles, because if you want to get into a really bad spiral and cycle and then start playing that tit-for-tat game or, oh, they’re not doing this, so I’m going to retreat, and then they get more hardened and then you do it, it’s just boom, boom. It’s ping pong back and forth, back and forth, don’t break the cycle, and, husbands, you have that power. I think it’s actually your responsibility no matter who is at fault. 

The cycle thing of going back and forth with very typical routine, emotional routines that happen in marriage, that’s on you. No matter who started it, that’s on you to not let that go back and forth, back and forth, so die to yourself, sacrifice and level up like Jeremy said, and understand that we have the mind of Christ. We have the spirit of God and we have the ability, imperfectly though, but with the power given to us because of the resurrection of Jesus, to show that model. That’s when your marriage starts to flourish, starts to grow, and it’s hard just like death on a cross is, but then there is resurrection, meaning, there is a new level of life and a new leveling up that happens, and it’s beautiful and it’s amazing.

Yeah. One of the things that we talked about in this conversation, too, is that one of the dads said, “Does that mean that I can’t ever be weak?” and, man, that’s a good question. That’s probably its own giant thing, but one of the things I realized while he was saying that is, absolutely, men can be weak. We can be vulnerable. We need support. We need encouragement, but the timing is a really big deal, so an example is, in a football team, if your football team is down, let’s say, two or three touchdowns and the whole team is discouraged, there’s one guy that cannot give in to that discouragement, and that’s the coach. The coach cannot be weak at that moment. The coach has to go in that locker room and has to bring energy to that team. That team is struggling. That team is emotionally down, and that coach cannot give into weakness at that moment. Now, after the game, he can go cry. 

There’s a lot of places you can go and be weak, but, in that moment, you have to step up. You have to level up. That is your role in the family, and so, when you give in, imagine being on a team where you’re down a couple of touchdowns, and you get to the locker room, and the coaches walks away, just walks out of the stadium and just says, “I’m done. Game over, guys.” The coach can’t do that, and so, guys, that’s your role in the home. That’s your role in the family. You can be weak and vulnerable and you’re going to need support, but if you’re in a tough season, your wife is in a tough season, there’s emotional stuff going on that’s bringing the team down, man, you’ve got to level up in those moments. That’s the time for you to really take the position in the family of the coach and rally the team and really push through that hard season and lead in those moments.

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