Who controls the thermostat in your home?
by Christie Browning
There’s a phenomenon that goes on in my house. Be it a weekday, weekend, morning or night the same results occur. This strange occurrence causes a shift in the very soul of those who reside in my home. It can be a force for good or leave everyone shaking in its wake. What is this phenomenon?
It seems that the old adage: “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” has a ring of truth to it.
You see, when I walk in the door with a pep in my step and a smile on my face from a day spent at the office, my family equally smiles. There’s lighthearted conversation at dinner and chuckles from all as we joke and swap stories. Everyone is a bit more obliged to chip in with the to-dos around the house and offer a helping hand to each other.
But the opposite can also happen. I’ve been known on occasion to fly into the house in a fury, frustrated and spent from a hectic day of work. I storm around the kitchen ranting and venting to whomever is bold enough to stay within listening distance. I slam dishes into the dishwasher all of sudden noticing every little thing someone didn’t put away, clean or toss throughout the day. That realization just heaps hot coals on my already hot head and my growling, scowling face sits at the table just daring someone to say something that will honk me off.
It’s a proven fact that I set the thermostat in my home. By “thermostat” I mean the level of peace, of warmth, of welcome in my home.. or on the opposite end, the level of tension, frustration and nastiness in my home. Yes, it is true that if my husband, Mat, doesn’t feel well or has a bad day, we all might be a bit more sensitive to his needs, but even then, he still doesn’t have the same power.
I can guess that you, as a woman in your home, have the same power. Maybe you haven’t noticed it just yet, but I would imagine you have ability to create waves of fun and laughter, setting the tone for togetherness and liveliness in your home. But you also have the power to drum up great squalls of fear, anger, bitterness and pettiness and other not-nice things.
Beyond the thermostat in your home, you also have this power in your marriage. Men typically don’t like true confrontation, so they are likely to just stay out of your way when you are “in a mood.” They lay low, hoping whatever it is isn’t their fault and that it will end soon. Like waiting out a terrible storm, they duck and cover hoping there isn’t a lot of damage to repair when it’s passed.
But a wife who knows how to turn up the temperature of love, affection, intimacy, warmth, support, encouragement… this is a woman who has her husband’s attention. This is a husband who wants to help his wife, who looks for ways to reciprocate, who sees her acts as an invitation for him to participate in it as well.
I share this “thermostat theory,” not as a licensed HVAC pro- Having Very Appropriate Control (HVAC) of my attitude and emotions, thereby my actions. No, I know this theory because I have put my family through the test for several months and seasons at a time. How they hung in there with me, I’ll never know.
Recently, I laid in bed and told Mat that I had a revelation. I realized that I was allowing life to overwhelm me, frustrate me, stress me out and consume me. In turn, I was pulling away from him. I felt distant and disconnected, all the while being tossed in a sea of uncontrollable emotions. Mat quietly listened while I shared what was on my heart. At the end he responded, “I was just hoping it wasn’t me.” That broke my heart to hear, knowing the love of my life felt the brunt of my tantrums and bad attitudes.
I made a vow to myself that night that I was going to get control of my thermostat and make it my priority to bring affection, warmth, encouragement and peace into my home and into my marriage. It didn’t take long to notice the change… yes, change in my family, but mostly change in ME! The brightness in my countenance shown on them and bounced back, filling my heart with joy and confirming all along my suspicions… I have the power to dictate the temperature in my home.
How did I change? It was small, subtle ways, but here’s a few that worked…. maybe you can try it too!
I turned the focus in on my own heart - if there isn’t joy, affection, warmth and love inside of me, how could I ever hope to pour it out on those around me? To turn up the thermostat inside of me, I took an active approach to set some boundaries in my life - no letting work run my world and consume my thoughts; no ungrateful venting and ranting - if I had a bad day, I would give it a 60 sec spot in my conversation, but then I would choose to focus on the good that day; I also took time for me each week - unplugging from work and social media, putting down my phone and laptop; lastly I made spending time in the Scriptures a priority each morning, reading but also praying - specifically for my husband and family. It’s hard to get all angry about some dirty dishes when you are praying for them and focused on serving them in their need.
I stopped to listen and allowed my mind to focus on what the other person was telling me. I made time for them, but more importantly I paid attention to what was important to them at that moment.
I learned to serve —- even when I didn’t feel like it was my turn to take out the trash, I did it anyway and didn’t beat the others over the head with how much I had to do around the house while they didn’t lift a finger. I did all I could to take a servant’s attitude in those moments. The day my stepson took the trash and recycling out without being asked was reward enough and proof that service works! And as it turns out, my husband’s love language is acts of service — a win-win. Not only did I invite good vibes into our home, I was filling my husband with the exact things that communicated love to him!
No matter what the makeup and dynamic of your home maybe, I challenge you to take notice of your special and unique role in the house. You can be the root of encouragement. You can create your home so that it’s an environment of peace and safety - a retreat away from the world, a safe haven. It doesn’t just happen because you bought a new duvet cover and hiring a cleaning lady isn’t the whole answer here….it’s up to you, lady! Let’s exercise our powers for good!