Do you find yourself overreacting to little irritations? Your spouse forgot to pick up something on the way home, and it puts you in a bad mood for the entire evening. Your child tracked mud on the new carpet, and you explode. You find yourself steaming with resentment when your boss simply asks you to do your job. If so, there may be some reasons why.
· You've been repressing anger. Anger can sometimes live inside of you for years. Your parents hurt you with harsh words or severe punishment. Your peers made fun of you as a teenager. Your boss treated you unfairly. You've held all of these hurts inside, and now your stored anger is showing up in your behavior.
· Your expectations aren't being met. Expectations are tricky. We should have them, but sometimes they can be unrealistic or unreasonable for the season we are in. I've heard it said that the distance between our reality and our expectations causes internal conflict, and that conflict will often express itself in our our behavior toward others.
· You don't feel loved or valued. We are wired for connection. Whether from our intimate, family, or community relationships, when we feel loved, appreciated, and valued, the world is much brighter. When our love tanks are low, we can sometimes get defensive and put up walls to "protect" ourselves from feeling hurt. When we perceive we aren't valued, we can easily fall into resentment or cynicism that feels much like irritation.
· Your stress level is at capacity. Under stress, people can say and do things they otherwise wouldn't—sometimes even things they regret. The issue is not that they have no filter or are uncaring, but rather, they've reached an unhealthy capacity (emotional limit) due to stress. The energy needed to "tame" their emotions, and not react to things that may frustrate or upset them, is at a low.
If you find yourself irritated by things that most likely shouldn't get under your skin, consider writing in a journal or talking to a counselor about the issue(s) that may be exacerbating your irritability. This may help surface patterns and/or get to the root issue underneath it all. Nobody wants to live in a perpetual state of frustration. Identifying where these irritations come from may help alleviate unnecessary friction and allow you the capacity to enjoy the moments you are given even more.
Dr. Gary Chapman
Author of The 5 Love Languages®
Discover your love language at 5lovelanguages.com
Could you use a little creativity in speaking love and appreciation to others? Here are a few suggestions to inspire you:
· WORDS OF AFFIRMATION: “For holidays or birthdays, I like to write several cards to my husband: one from me, one from our baby, and sometimes one from the pets. I write each card from the specific point of view and sign it from the “giver”. It’s a fun way to make the card-opening time a little bit richer!” —Laura
· ACTS OF SERVICE: “My wife has a stressful job where she makes vital decisions all day. To help ease the mental load at home, I’ll present dinner options and ask which she feels like the most. I use this approach in other areas and find that it helps too.” —Josh
· RECEIVING GIFTS: “My family and I always make sure to buy little things for each other when returning from journeys and outings. It really makes us feel loved and remembered. Little things like bread, peanuts or anything—it doesn’t have to be expensive, just a show of care.” —Flourish
· QUALITY TIME: “My husband and I have been re-watching our favorite shows that we each loved prior to even knowing each other. After the kids are tucked in and the busy day is over, we get comfy on the couch and watch our show while cuddling. It’s an extra special hour that we both look forward to.” —Christen
· PHYSICAL TOUCH: “I love to sit at my partner’s feet and give him a massage; or rub his back and listen to how his day went while we cuddle, thus feeding both of our needs for physical contact and quality time together.” —Emilia
Contact our MFL team for marriage support anytime.
Your Marriage, Family and Life Team