What do I do when the feelings change?
What do I do when the feelings change? To answer that question, I believe we should start by looking at our feelings.
Feelings are not our enemy. We have feelings because we are created in the image of God. God has feelings: He gets angry, sad, joyful. Feelings are important to us for several reasons:
- They help us understand what is important to us.
- They tell us what we believe about things.
- They add flavor to our life.
So, as you can see, feelings are very important to life.
While feelings are very important to us, they are not intended to direct us. Feelings are indicators not guidance mechanisms. Just like lights on the dashboard of a car, they help us to recognize when we pass a milestone or when something needs attention. Feelings or the lack thereof can mean that we need to stop and see what is happening “under the hood” of our life. But, an expert car mechanic knows that he/she has not fixed a mechanical problem simply by unplugging a light on the dashboard so that it will go off or change it color or indication. An expert knows that what really needs to be addressed is under the hood: in what makes the car function properly.
Feelings can be fickle in this way: They respond to beliefs or situations, not exclusively to what is true.
He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered. Proverbs 28:26
In other words, I can have feelings based upon my belief in a lie. I can have feelings based upon what is happening in a moment of time. This moment may not have bearing on how my life is going to turn out – good or bad, yet I can feel as if they do.
If I go through depression, then unless the depression is a direct consequence of a physical disease, then it will last as long as the viewpoint on life which causes depression lingers.
Feelings are fickle in that they last as long as my beliefs and those beliefs can be scriptural or worldly.
Changed feelings are a part of life. Our feelings will change over time no matter what we get involved with in life.
Simply knowing this helps us not to “freak out” when they begin to wane. I’m not always excited about being a parent. I don’t always feel the same about my job. My new car will not always be new. My new home will not always be new.
I hear what you’re saying, but my feelings are powerful. What do I do when they begin to change regarding my marriage?
- Fearlessly face your real issues.
Talk about the real issues facing your marriage. Don’t be afraid to identify unhappiness. Failure to identify means that it goes on without being confronted. 40% of married couples are not happy and many will do nothing about fixing that. Why would you do that? Pretending as if problems don’t exist or blaming them upon others without examination is a product of insanity.
- You can’t give your spouse something you don’t possess.
The Bible tells us to love our spouse. The word used in these commands is a Greek word:
Agape – goodwill, benevolence, and willful delight in the object of love.
We experience so many feelings in a marriage: friendship, romance, family love, but we are commanded by God to love our spouse with agape. Now, agape is a product of God.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16
The word for “love” in this verse, used to describe the very nature of God is agape. Not romantic love, not familial love, not friendship love, but agape.
Now, God loved you in spite of yourself and continues to love you in spite of yourself! So, how are you going to love your spouse in spite of who they are? You can’t give it away if you don’t possess it. There is no one standing between God and I, so I can’t blame my lack of love on my spouse’s behavior. If I don’t love them because of their behavior, then I’m not loving them with the type of love God commanded me to.
- When love seems to fade, remember feelings follow beliefs.
Remember, feelings are indicators: they lead us to what we believe about life. If I believe that God is for my marriage; if I ask God and believe He will give me love for my spouse; if I decide to do what is biblical because I know it is right – then my feelings will respond to those decisions. If you follow your feelings, you may be following a lie or a selfish motivation. If you follow the Bible, you follow truth and the truth will set you free from emotional bondage.
4. Put yourself in the spotlight before you thrust your spouse there.
A person who is actively working on what they control and not trying to change what they do not control is a much better teammate. If you focus on changing your own negative behavior, the marriage will be changed. The quickest way to find out if your partner will change is to change yourself. You have nothing to lose in this scenario. Even if your partner refuses change, you still will be the better for it.
Don’t be surprised when your feelings are not as strong as they once were or if they go away at some point! Feelings were created this way by God so that we will realize that nothing and no person is the source of our happiness or self worth. Feelings are created this way so that we must learn to depend upon God!