How Do I Deal with Hot-Button Issues in My Marriage?

Consider the Commitments of Your Heart

Everyone faces hot-button issues in marriage. In the heat of the moment, they can feel emotionally overwhelming regardless of what we may have asked God for previously. While it is always wise to pray for healing in our reactions, Winston Smith, counselor and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Education Foundation (CCEF), encourages the discipline of investigating personal motives.

Winston has served as a counselor for more than fifteen years and holds a Master of Divinity Degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. Winston is the author of Marriage Matters: Extraordinary Change Through Ordinary Moments as well as several mini-books: Divorce Recovery; Help for Stepfamilies; It's All About Me—The Problem with Masturbation; Who Does the Dishes?; and Help! My Spouse Committed Adultery.

While we all contend with hot-button issues, Winston pointed out the critical step of asking God to reveal what is driving our responses to them. Doing so reveals deeper roots and brings to light motivations we may not have seen clearly in the past.

Did any of Winston's advice change the way you think about dealing with conflict in your marriage? If so, how?
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What are the hot-button issues in your marriage? What kind of emotional reaction do they typically trigger in you or your spouse (anger, sadness, fear, etc.)? What would need to change for you to respond in a more positive manner?
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For true change to occur, we must move beyond simply trying to curb our external reactions to examining the internal motives driving them.  As Winston said, our triggered feelings are typically tied to deep roots we may not be fully aware of. It's important to consider why these hot-button issues are so significant in order to discover the source of the emotions they stir up.

Winston referred to the "commitments" of the heart as those roots giving life to our responses. They provide answers to why a particular issue bears so much importance to us. Are you able to identify the deeper commitments of your heart? Can you pinpoint any past events or struggles that may serve as the source for your responses?
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Could you set aside time this week to begin looking for the internal roots of your personal hot-button issues? If, so when? Where? What could you do, practically, to get at those roots?
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Finding freedom in the hot-button issues of marriage requires digging beneath the surface. We must commit to the hard work of considering the motives behind our emotions. This is something that has to happen outside of the heat of the moment. Whatever issues you face in your marriage today, devote yourself to investigating your heart. Ask God to bring to light the roots of your responses and trust Him to lead you into freedom. 

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