You Cannot Pray and Stay Upset With Your Spouse

I darted out the door for a 10 PM run a few evenings ago after Edric and I had a conflict. The cause of our dissension isn’t worth mentioning because it was, once again, something silly and trivial. It reached a climactic point when I declared in my exasperation while riding in the car beside him, “This is irritating, you are so irritating. Why are you making a big deal out of this?!”

In all my marriage, I have never insulted Edric this way. We teach about expressing frustration with “I feel” statements but I did exactly what we tell couples not to do — I criticized him.

Edric restrained his anger and kept silent. We were nearing the bend that turns into our home but the chilly air between us stretched the time to an eternal minute.

Where did I go wrong? Not too long before this, we were enjoying the company of friends, engaged in lively discussion, and exchanging spiritual insights. What a contrast to the oppressive atmosphere that put miles between us. I looked out the window, consumed by my ugly thoughts, stewing in a toxic mix of rage and apathy.

After writing an article entitled, Don’t Give Up On Irreconcilable Differences, there I was thinking, I am tired of this. We just don’t get each other. I need to run this off.

As soon as I got home, I changed, grabbed my running shoes and snuck out the front door. If Edric had seen me, he might have dissuaded me because it was late in the evening. Guiltily, I tiptoed out, leaving the door unlocked so I could slip back in unnoticed. Yes, I know, I was in bad spiritual shape! Criticizing my husband and then sneaking out of the house like a rebellious teen! My, my!

Even if my motivation was to get away from Edric to process my feelings, the run afforded me something better…time to pray. I soon discovered what is consistently true about prayer and conflict. It is impossible to pray and stay mad at your spouse!

As I communed with God, a strong conviction rose in my heart to humble myself. I didn’t want to give in to the prodding but how could I keep praying without recognizing my wretchedness and wrong? In the presence of a holy God, my sinfulness was made obvious.

God reminded me that it didn’t matter that there were actions or words spoken by Edric that hurt me. There was no excuse for my own behavior and response. These things were within my control. He asked me to initiate an apology, to go up to Edric after my run and sincerely ask for his forgiveness.

Prayer has a way of recalibrating my heart and mind so that my attention is drawn towards the Lord and away from my carnal perspective. This is one of the reasons why I am convinced that prayer is absolutely necessary for my spiritual survival and a healthy marriage. God reveals to me so many areas I need to change to become more Christ-like when I pray.

On the one hand, there is His Word and the support of friends and family who tell me when I am not living out His principles. But when I pray, God ministers to me in an intimate way.

God showed me once again that my thoughts, words, and actions are emblematic of my theology. When I resist being submissive or respectful to Edric, the real problem is my relationship with God, not Edric. Sure, Edric may have areas of improvement and he would say the same about me for sure. But the bigger issue is I don’t trust that God has my best interests at heart. I start thinking of his principles for marriage as unfair and unrealistic. My focus is no longer following God’s and pleasing Him, but giving in to the dictates of my emotions.

When I got home I found Edric sitting in the family room unwinding in front of his laptop. He didn’t realize I had been gone for the last thirty minutes. I meekly approached him asking, “Will you forgive me for disrespecting you, for saying that I was so irritated, and for being so angry? I am so sorry.”

The next day, Edric also asked for my forgiveness for being selfish and self-focused and all was well between us again.

Very often, I think of how prayer can change circumstances and people around me. But God is teaching me that prayer changes me most of all. Whenever I come before God, he reveals to me a sin I have to confess, a command I have to obey, a word of encouragement, an insight from His truth, the assurance of His presence, or the hope I need to keep pursuing His will. When I don’t pray, I become vulnerable to the schemes of the evil one who darkens my thinking with untruth.

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane with his disciples, anticipating his impending death on the cross, the told them, “Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38 NASB) He knew what challenges lay ahead of them in the days to come, how their faith would be shaken like never before. Clueless, the disciples didn’t listen but fell asleep!

Many times in my own marriage, I know that I am supposed to commit my relationship to Edric to the Lord by praying regularly and vigilantly. However, I’m not as intentional about it as I should be. Sometimes, I fall asleep in the spiritual sense, forgetting that every marriage is under continual threat from the divisive maneuverings of the evil one who wants to destroy marriages and tear spouses apart. The spiritual battle is real.

Last week, our church held a five day prayer and fasting time which did wonders for my relationship with Edric. Being in the spirit of prayer made a huge difference, not just for me but for Edric as we came together to pray each night of our fast.

Prayer put a spiritual shield around our marriage. Edric was especially patient and understanding towards me, and I found myself better able to receive correction and deal with issues between us with a gentle and quiet spirit. MIRACLE! What an affirmation to the power of praying to the Lord!


Experiencing this victory affirmed why I need to make prayer a habit in my life and marriage.  As authors and speakers Craig and Amy Groeschel put it, “Seek the One with your two.” Translated: Seek God with your spouse by coming together in prayer. It doesn’t have to be complicated…pray during meal times, pray about shared concerns, and pray for each other.

I began with the title, “It’s impossible to pray and stay upset at your spouse,” but the more positive perspective is, “It’s possible to keep loving your spouse when you are committed to praying to the Lord about yourself, your spouse, and your marriage.”







37 thoughts on “You Cannot Pray and Stay Upset With Your Spouse

  1. wow such a great timing. my husband and i had a fight this morning and this article had reminded me not to give in to my emotions. thank you! God bless you more!

  2. Oh great God! Thank you for sharing your experience Ms Joy. God really knows the timing for me to read this as I was upset with my husband the other day. Thank you. God bless you and your family

  3. Oh great God! Thank you for sharing your experience Ms Joy. God really knows the timing for me to read this as I was upset with my husband the other day. Thank you. God bless you and your family

    1. God didnt let me to sleep tonight still feeling hurt, i actually said to myself how am I gonna do my morning devotion? and here it is the answer I got this in my email . Thank You Lord , thanks Joy!

  4. it takes a lot of courage and obedience to ask for forgiveness
    especially when there is a feeling inside you that says your not wrong.
    but in my 7 years of being married. God made learn that saying sorry does not mean your wrong.
    it only means you love and you learn to be humble
    great reflection maam joy

  5. Thanks Ms. Joy! I’ve been reading your blog and it helped with my family relationships. I’m also part of a Dgroup and I’m so thankful to the Lord that He brought us to a Church that teaches these things. Thanks to all of you, esp to your family.

    1. I was just upset with my husband last night (upset is an understatement, actually). Thanks for this!

  6. True. Been missing on my prayer time because shy ako kay Lord that I still feel bad I can’t homeschool my kids.. 🙁 I can’t because I have to respect and submit to the spouse God gave me:) I’m still very sad and still working on removing the negatives in my heart… Thank you for the post, such a blessing.

  7. You know, after dinner at your place and how you said to stay righteous regardless, then this… I am more convinced than ever that I am treading down the wrong path. I definitely can’t pray for my situation if I continue being upset about it. At the conferemce this morning, Brian Houston said “if there is poison in the root, there is trouble ahead for the tree.” I am ridding myself of this anger, frustration, bitterness, etc!

    1. That’s great to hear Kaye, I am sure it’s so difficult for you. But I am blessed by your humility!

  8. very timely!
    i have been upset with my husband these past couple of days. and sometimes, i am really overwhelmed on how our differences affects me much. i sometimes feel he does not love me the way i want to be loved and it upsets me. but then, as i start to enter the presence of God thru prayer, i am reminded of things that matters most, that is to glorify God in my life, and in every small details of it. 🙂

  9. Such a timely article. I’m newly married. They say it is only when you get married that you truly know your spouse. I am quite upset that most of what I imagined my life to be after getting married is not fulfilled. We no longer have date nights that give us quality time with one another. It becomes so boring and unconnected. It really upsets me a lot. I guess it is time for me to pray.

    1. I’m a husband, and I take time to read your blog to get insights from the wives. Thanks a lot for sharing your struggles in marriage, and how going back to God always will help improve our marriages. It applies to me as well hahaha. And true the devil is out there to corrupt our minds all the time. I sometimes get irritable for some unknown reasons, praying and communicating to God helps me get back all the time.

    2. Don’t loose hope! I would also encourage you to join a group of other couples where you can grow spiritually as a couple. Every Saturday, starting two weekends from now at 3pm there is an activity called Saturdates for couples. The topic for the four weeks will be on finance 🙂 in case you are interested…

      1. Hi Joy. I’m actually new here. But I must say, this is really a good read! Thanks for sharing. I’m interested with the Saturdate activity. Could you send me more details? Thanks and God bless you more!

        1. Hi Momma J! SATURDATES will resume after the parenting conference in October:) will post about that soon

  10. I find this topic very useful because it is true that it is difficult to pray if you’re upset with someone – more so if it is your spouse you’re upset with. And that has been my struggle. Prayer really helps a lot. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    1. Yes that’s true! You need to change before coming to God in sincere prayer. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Hi Joy, please allow me to share this regarding forgiveness… thanks dear! 🙂

    We can not make our souls to agree to be forgiving. How can we convince our souls to do it?

    One of the most beautiful merits of Islam is forgiveness. Allah praises that favorable merit in several verses and encourages humans to forgive. Two of those verses are as follows:

    Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; and turn away from the ignorant. (the Quran, The Heights (Al-Aráf); 199 (7: 199))

    Those (who are in fear of Allah) suppress their anger and forgive people. (the Quran, The Family of Imran (Al Imran); 134 (3: 134))

    Pleasure and enjoyment taken from forgiving is many times more than the pleasure taken from revenge. Forgiving always gives peace and comfort to the forgiving person. The perfect degree of forgiveness is peculiar to Allah. Almighty Allah both loves forgiving and those who forgive.

    We see the most beautiful examples of forgiveness in our Prophets life. As follows: Chiefs of the Quraish tribe conspired to kill the Prophet. Since they could not put that into practice, they got him out of Makkah by force. Later on, the Prophet conquered Makkah by the help of Allah. While the people, who had compelled the Prophet to migrate, got together around the Kaaba and were talking about how they would be killed, the Prophet came near the door of the Kaaba asked them what they were expecting from him. When they told him that they were expecting forgiveness from him, he announced general amnesty.

    One of the marks of Islam is being sweet-tempered. Almighty Allah likes His gentle servants. If you were severe or harsh hearted, they would have broken away from about you: so pass over (their faults), and ask for (Allah’s) forgiveness them in affairs (of moment). (the Quran, The Family of Imran (Al Imran); 159 (3: 159))

    The highest degree of forgiveness is responding evil with good. Repel evil with what is better than it; then the one between whom and yourself enmity prevails will become like your friend and intimate. (the Quran, Explained In Detail (Fussilat); 41 (3: 34))

    Alaaddin Başar (Prof.Dr.)

      1. Hi Ms. Joy, I admire how you response even to those people who comment here just to misled other people. Thank you for serving the Lord thru this blog.

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