“The wise person seeks to understand the internal life of their mate.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 18, 2022
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1
Have you noticed that our world is filled with people who overreact? We overreact to what someone said to us; we overreact to bad traffic; we overreact to being late to appointments, to hearing bad news on the Internet, or to experiencing conflict with friends. Like many folks, I do my share of overreacting when I should stay calm.
The problem with overreacting is that the person experiencing it often doesn’t completely understand why, and neither do others who are watching it happen.
On the surface, overreacting often looks like a response to an obvious issue or concern, (like being overloaded at work), but overreacting often points to something deeper in the one who is overreacting.
For example, imagine that your mate becomes flustered when things don’t go their way: when deadlines aren’t met, when traffic is bad, or when they have trouble accomplishing a task.
A natural response when you are witnessing your beloved’s overreaction is to assume that they are simply impatient or just plain irritable. But if you consider that overreacting is a sign of emotional pain, it can help you create marital harmony, avoid relationship discord, and develop greater compassion for your loved one.
What if you knew that your mate’s overreactions aren’t just signs of selfishness or impatience, but that they come from fear . . . perhaps the fear of being out of control, which is rooted deeply in the fear of failure?
What if you knew that your mate’s overreactions come from the fear of being abandoned?
What if you knew that your mate’s overreactions come from unresolved past pain?
Would knowing more about why your mate is overreacting change how you respond to them during stressful moments?
Instead of getting angry at them and returning frustration for frustration, or assuming that their response is directed at you, could you pray for your mate? Could you ask, “I can see that you’re frustrated, would you like to talk about it?”
Could you express compassion? Could you put their needs above yours in the heat of the moment to minister to them and approach the situation with tender grace?
In my marriage, I have found that understanding my own emotional wounds and beliefs has shed a lot of light on why I overreact. And, understanding my husband’s emotional wounds and beliefs has helped me respond to him with grace when he is stressed. This has brought us closer to one other, rather than tearing us apart.
The person who is wise in relationships doesn’t only look to what is happening on the surface, but also seeks to understand the internal life of their mate. Understanding more about your beloved’s motivations can help you develop greater compassion and unity in your marriage and avoid a lot of unwanted conflict.
Granted, it’s never okay to justify overreacting that leads to any kind of abuse just because a man—or woman—is experiencing emotional pain. However, even in healthy marriages, both men and women can overreact.
The next time your mate overreacts, don’t just look at the obvious frustration. Instead, practice a little compassion and pray for them. Ask them if they want to talk about it. Then, after things have cooled off, seek to understand more about their heart and the emotional hurt that was behind their overreaction.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
Lord, please help me not to allow my mate’s overreactions to cause me to fear. Instead, help me to remain confidently calm so that I can minister to him and help him grow into a deeper sense of security in you and in your love for him. Amen.
Do you need to stop overreacting to your mate’s overreactions? If so, get professional help to process your reactions and also pray about it, too.
Maranatha Music: Beloved Let Us Love One Another
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