I am in a relationship with a wonderful man but I am verbally abusive to him. I become easily frustrated and angry with him when he doesn’t know how to get somewhere or when we can’t agree on what to eat. I seem to make him feel stupid and not wanted because we have different educational backgrounds. I hate that I am destroying his spirit and, in turn, destroying mine. I know I am verbally abusive but I am having such a hard time stopping and keeping my mouth shut. I don’t want to even think the way I do…. I just want to change and love him deeply because now I am just snide and mean.

I am a Christian and a.) I know this is wrong; b.) I want to change, and; c.) I want this relationship to work because he is a sweet, gentle, kind man, marriage material. Do you have any suggestions as to what I can do? I already see a therapist.

The fact that you are aware you are being so unloving and destructive in your relationship is the most important first step to changing it. Good for you!

What occurs to me is that deeply profound truth the Lord Jesus said: “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” What comes out of your mouth is generated from what’s in your heart. Which sounds like [bluntness warning ON] pridefulness, disrespect and self-centerednessfruits of the flesh (see also Galatians 5:19-21).[bluntness warning OFF] I think the problem isn’t as much your behavior, but a heart desperately in need of transformation by Jesus. (Please understand: there isn’t a single one of us who doesn’t desperately need a heart transformation! I was recently asked, “What’s your best evidence for the existence of God?” I replied, “He changed my whole life!”)

I’m glad to hear you’re a Christian, since your heart issues can be solved by cooperating with the Lord in the sanctification process. And that is usually a process of Him:

1. Convicting us of sin so we can repent

2. Giving us power to change the way we respond to life’s challenges, as we depend on Him to do it

3. Identifying lies we believe, and helping us replace them with the truth

I suggest that you make a solemn decision to choose humility before the Lord and with your boyfriend. Pray daily about this, asking the Lord to show you your sin from HIS perspective. Ask Him to break your heart over your pride and arrogance so that you will deeply WANT to repent, and will work hard at changing your bad habits.

At the same time, ask your boyfriend for help in changing the habits you are ashamed of. Choose a code word or phrase that he can say when you are being judgmental, impatient, and frustrated. Give him permission to say the code word/phrase, make a solemn promise that you will not get angry and will instead say, “Thank you for helping me get better.” (And pre-decide that if your ego rises up in ugliness, you will tell yourself the truth: “You are being unkind, prideful and ugly. Shut up, flesh. I choose love and kindness instead.”)

I have learned that when we are easily frustrated and angry, that is usually the result of harboring unrealistic expectations. (I recently came across a word of wisdom on that: “Expectations are the mother of resentments.”) When you find yourself erupting in frustration and anger, pre-decide to ask yourself, “What am I believing about this?” It could be unrealistic beliefs such as, “Men should always know how to get anywhere.” “Other people should want the same things I want since I know best.” “Men should always have education levels higher than or at least equal to women.” With the Lord’s help, work at being more self-aware about what drives your self-centeredness. Ask Him in your prayer times, “Lord, what do You want me to know about myself? Give me grace to hear what You have to say without being defensive.”

This kind of internal turnaround works best when you “put it on project status,” as Dr. Phil says. You have to make it a primary intention and put a lot of mental and emotional and spiritual energy into it. And every time you think about it, give it back to the Lord and invite His help, confessing your desperate need of Him to make you more Christlike. He has all the power you need for exactly what you want.

Hope you find this helpful.

Sue Bohlin

© 2007 Probe Ministries

Sue Bohlin is an associate speaker/writer and webmistress for Probe Ministries. She attended the University of Illinois, and has been a Bible teacher and conference speaker for over 40 years. She is a speaker for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and Stonecroft Ministries (Christian Women's Connections), and serves on the board of Living Hope Ministries, a Christ-centered outreach to those dealing with unwanted homosexuality. Sue is on the Bible.org Women's Leadership Team and is a regular contributor to Bible.org's Engage Blog. In addition to being a professional calligrapher, she is the wife of Probe's Dr. Ray Bohlin and the mother of their two grown sons. Her personal website is suebohlin.com.

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Probe Ministries is a non-profit ministry whose mission is to assist the church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview and to equip the church to engage the world for Christ. Probe fulfills this mission through our Mind Games conferences for youth and adults, our 3-minute daily radio program, and our extensive Web site at www.probe.org.

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