How are you handling marital strife in your home? If you are anything like me, you may have a tendency to react to your spouse’s moods in a way that reflects them rather than helping to diffuse them.
In this post, I am going to show you how, when there is strife in your marriage, you are either a thermometer or a thermostat!
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Marital Strife Often Begins With a “Mood”
All marriages have conflict at one time or another. It could be minor disagreements or major marital discord.
Often, marital strife starts with someone’s mood.
Have you ever had your husband come home after a bad day and he gives a little bit of attitude? Next thing you know, you are giving him attitude in return without even thinking about it! After all, you had a tough day too, right?
We can easily fall into the trap of reflecting back someone’s mood like a thermometer reflects back the temperature and cause someone’s bad mood to turn into full-blown marital strife!
We all have a choice, however! We can resist reflecting back the temperature and start changing it!
We can go from being a thermometer to being a thermostat!
Marital Strife – Handling Conflict
Let’s look at a thermostat. What is its function?
Its main function is controlling the temperature of your home. You decide what you want the comfort level to be and you set it to ensure your home stays at that level. Whenever it starts to get colder or warmer, the thermostat enables the heating or cooling system in your house to get that temperature back to where you chose.
Now let’s look at a thermometer. What is its function?
It reflects the temperature your home is currently at. It doesn’t matter what comfort level you want it to be. A thermometer’s only function is to tell you what it is right now. It cannot change it, it merely reflects it.
Now you can look at a thermometer and decide you are not happy at that temperature. You can then go to your thermostat and regulate it and set it to where you want. But each one has their distinct functions.
In marriage, you are either a thermometer or a thermostat. You are either diffusing marital strife or escalating it! How?
As in our example earlier, if your spouse comes home from work after that stressful day and they are in a bad mood, you have the option to be a thermometer and reflect that back at them by yelling or getting offended or just being in a huff. You merely reflect back the climate in your home!
Next thing you know, you’re in a bad mood as well, when you were happy as a clam just a few minutes ago!
We do that often! We feel like we didn’t deserve to have someone come home and give us an attitude for no reason so we think “well, I’m just going to give them a taste of their own medicine!” We then feel as miserable as they do! Again, full-blown marital strife!
The other option is you can be a thermostat and change the whole temperature in your home and avoid that marital strife and discord. You can do this by not reacting (or reflecting back) to their mood (yes, not take it personally!!) and treat them with kindness, gentleness, love, and understanding. You can make the home their safe place to fall; a place where all the worries and stresses of the day melt away.
Not easy to do sometimes when someone is lashing out about something that has nothing to do with you, right? I mean, when someone gives attitude we sometimes go on autopilot and feel like “how dare they….”
Marital Strife – What Does the Bible Say About Conflict?
When it comes to marital strife or any other relationship for that matter, the Bible says regarding conflict:
“A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger..”
Proverbs 15:1 ESV
“…bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
Colossians 3:13 ESV
“The beginning of strife is like letting out water,
so quit before the quarrel breaks out.”
Proverbs 17:14 ESV
“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.”
Proverbs 15:18 ESV
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;”
James 1:19 ESV
“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
Colossians 4:6 NKJV
“…looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV
Responding in Love
We can pay attention to what is affecting our spouse and try to ease their burden. We can also pay attention to our own mood and ensure we are acting in love and not RE-acting and matching their mood.
In fact, when we respond with love and understanding, we are acting as that thermostat and changing the climate. Your spouse will soon respond to that and their mood will change for the better.
The next time you are faced with this situation in your home, whether it is your spouse or your children, stop and think “am I being a thermostat or a thermometer”? Am I letting other people’s words, mood, attitude or sour spirit change my own?
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