Are you an irritable spouse? It’s easy to give ourselves a pass when we feel irritable, isn’t it? We tell ourselves, “Everyone gets cranky now and then. I’m just having one of ‘those’ days. He/she should be more understanding!” And we move on with our day with hardly a thought about what took place.
Being irritable IS something that we all feel at points in our lives. We’ve felt it inside ourselves and we’ve experienced it from one another in over three decades of marriage.
But are we too easy on ourselves for our irritability? Have we allowed irritability to be an acceptable response to the one to whom we have pledged our love? Here are three things to consider:
1. What’s the Big Deal?
In the Bible, the Apostle Paul lists several descriptors of love. He writes, “Love is…not irritable” (1 Corinthians 13:5). The word used for irritable here has the meaning of being aroused to anger, easily provoked, or exasperated.
To say that you “love” your spouse while being easily riled up at something they do or say is contradictory behavior. You are not living a life of love when you allow yourself to lose control. It may not be an all-out rage, but your displeasure is readily apparent. You are expressing the opposite of unconditional love and security in your marriage.
2. What’s My Problem?
Knowing the factors that can set the environment for our being irritable can be helpful in exercising self-control. These are not excuses for unacceptable responses in marriage, but they can be insightful in heading off relational bruising by our irritability.
Physical: When we are tired, feeling hungry, or we are in poor health, our resistance to irritability triggers is weakened. Too much noise and activity can affect some peoples’ ability to stay calm. For others, low blood sugar or hormones can set the stage for emotions one doesn’t want to feel or express.
Emotional: Going through seasons of frustration, fear, pressure and stress can also make us less prone to react with love and grace. When things don’t go our way our impatience rises and we snap off with words or actions that are contrary to anything our spouse should ever experience from us.
Spiritual: Hiding sin in our lives creates a shortness in our spirit toward our spouse. The subconscious knowledge that we are guilty before God has the effect of shortening our emotional fuse. We don’t show grace to our spouse because we haven’t yet accepted the grace Jesus holds out to us. Shame can drive an emotional surge.
3. The Seven-Day Self-check
Over the next seven days, increase your self-awareness on how you are responding to your spouse. Are there physical, emotional, or spiritual issues you need to address in your life?
Do you use harsh words? Is your tone of voice inviting or igniting? Do you look to your mate with eyes of love or a glance that glares?
If you catch even a whiff of being irritable—apologize in the moment. Don’t even wait or brush it off. Simply say, “I’m trying to grow in awareness of my being irritable to you. It’s not how I want to be or what you deserve. Please forgive me and have patience with me as I seek to improve.”
How have you dealt with your irritability in marriage? Share it below and help others! As you get rid of being irritable with your spouse, you will experience a closer, more loving connection as you build your marriage!