Take a moment to reflect on how often your bad mood or bad attitude gets spewed all over your most significant others. Everybody gets moody. Some days you’ll feel on top of the world and other days you’ll feel like staying under the duvet. It’s okay to feel sad sometimes. For years I didn’t realize that I had become such a melancholic individual in my life and home because I was always consumed with my thoughts due to the life struggles I was facing. I would come home from work and not really be in the mood for anything fun, not even smiling or laughing that often to my family. I became too serious. My wife will often tell me to lighten up, or just take it easy, especially on the kids. For years, I also struggled to lift the mood in our home when my wife was ïn a mood about something, and i didn’t really know what.
Most people know when they are feeling ‘in a mood’. But do you know what ‘mood’ means? Or where your mood comes from? Or how to change your mood? Simply, a mood is part of your emotional rhythm, but a little less intense than an emotion. And it usually has a trigger, such as an event or experience.
The problem with mood is it whittles away on the other’s energy little by little. The nasty barbs, sarcastic comments, negativity, lack of appreciation, stress, overwhelm, the eye rolling sighs, all add up one small behavior at a time until the weight becomes unbearable. Any one of those moments alone is surmountable. All of them piled up on top of each other over time can be crushing to a relationship. For my wife and I, the “mood”becomes a precursor for a quarrel or fight.
A bad mood every so often is understandable, but take a moment to reflect on how often your bad mood or bad attitude gets spewed all over those you care about deeply. Consider whether certain ways of being have turned into habits that may not be serving you—or helping your relationships.
As you observe yourself, notice if you tend to be a naysayer—someone who is always pessimistic or negative in response to others and their ideas. Perhaps you are a “mismatcher,” a label in Neuro-Linguistic Programing for one who always responds with the exception to the rule or with the one possible way that the other person could be wrong. Notice if you thank your partner when he or she does something for you, or if you appear to take their efforts for granted. Do you constantly blame others for your circumstances? Are you amenable or do you deflect everything people try to discuss with you? Do you always say no to advances for intimacy or fun nights out? Do you constantly doubt or question whether the other person loves you? Do you always feel superior or inferior? Are you regularly jealous or possessive? Do you apologize continuously or second-guess everything you do? Do you complain about everything from morning til night? Do you criticize, call the other names, use put downs or sarcasm? Are you in control of these behaviors or have they begun to control you?
Moods and emotions are complex. It’s thought three factors combine to create them in the brain: biology (for example, hormones and brain chemicals), psychology (such as personality and learned responses), and environment (like illness and emotional stress). Common, everyday causes of a negative mood are:
- poor sleep, tiredness and overwork
- needing to eat
- interactions with the people around you
- the news
- the weather
- hormonal changes, such as due to your period, puberty, menopause, or pregnancy
- lack of exercise
- a need for a break.
Other causes of a negative mood can include:
- drugs and alcohol
- poor nutrition
- medication side effects
- substance abuse
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- physical illness or chronic pain.
Some of these, such as your nutrition, exercise and sleep habits, or your use of alcohol and other drugs, are lifestyle related.
Put yourself in your partner’s shoes for a moment. Ask yourself, “What is it like to talk with me?” “What is it like to share creative ideas or goals with me?” “What is it like to do something nice for me?” “What is it like to ask for help from me?” If you don’t like the answers, consider what you wish the answers were. How do you want to be? How do you want your partner or loved ones to describe you? When I did this audit on myself, I realized that I was a big part of the problem. I needed to sort myself out.
God designed our bodies to work in sync with our spirits — to live by faith. He designed our emotions to be governed by our beliefs. Our beliefs frame our thinking and express themselves through our emotions. We commonly call these emotional manifestations “moods.”
But more often than not, for most of us, our bad mood is being fueled by a wrong belief. And the mood, though likely sin-infected, is a mercy. It is God’s designed gauge to alert us that a sinful or defective functional belief is governing us at the moment and must be corrected with God’s truth.
When our souls are “cast down” and “in turmoil” within us, we must ask, “Why?” And then we must preach to our souls to “hope in God,” our salvation and our portion, whose mercies are new every morning . “My soul continually remembers [my affliction and my wanderings] and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:20–24)
Begin each day with the goal of elevating the mood of your marriage. You may just find good moods are contagious, too.
Wilbert Frank Chaniwa