Category: Anger

The Healing Power of Apologies

In a perfect world, no one would need to apologize. But in an imperfect world apologizes are a necessity. The first step is admitting that you need to apologize. “I owe you an apology,” is a good beginning. Then, express your apology, and admit that your behavior was wrong. Ask them to forgive you. When you sincerely apologize, you will most likely receive forgiveness. When you fail to apologize you leave an emotional barrier between you and the other person. When is the last time you apologized to your spouse? Or, your child? If it has been more than a week, you probably need to say,  “I owe you an apology.” Time doesn’t heal hurts; apologies do.

Q&A: Loving People who Disappoint

Q: “Gary, I struggle with loving other people as they always disappoint.  How can I work on this?”

A: The only way to avoid being hurt is to stay away from relationships. The reality is that there is going to be pain, hurt, and disappointment in all human relationships. This is because we are imperfect. None of us are loving all the time. We are by nature self-centered and often selfish. Consequently, we hurt each other—most of the time unintentionally. The fact is that if you’re going to have relationships, you’re going to have times that you will be hurt. You have to accept that. Then, when you do feel hurt or wronged, you lovingly confront and try to work through that difficulty so the relationship can continue on down the road.

I was Wrong

I remember when my son was about six years old. He accidentally knocked a glass off the table. It fell broken on the floor. I looked at him, and he said, “It did it by itself.” I smiled and said, “Let’s say that a different way: ‘I accidentally knocked the glass off the table.’” He smiled and said, “I accidentally knocked the glass off the table.” He had learned an important lesson:  accept responsibility for your behavior.

I know adults who have never learned that lesson. They are still saying, “It did it by itself.” Here’s an exercise for you: Stand in front of the mirror and say, “I was wrong.  I was wrong.  I was wrong.” Say it until it feels comfortable. Then, use it when you know that your behavior was inappropriate.

Handling Anger in a Positive Way

Would you like to teach your family how to handle anger in a positive way? In my book: Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way, I suggest that couples write the following words on an index card and put it on the refrigerator. When they feel angry toward a family member, they get the card and read it to the person at whom they are angry. Here’s what the card says: “I’m feeling angry right now, but don’t worry. I’m not going to attack you. But I do need your help. Is this a good time to talk?” It brings a little humor into the tenseness, and it reminds me what I am not going to do—lose my temper. It also asks for help in dealing with my anger. Try it! It may become a family tradition.

Uncontrolled Anger

Is uncontrolled anger a problem in your marriage? Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” Do you control yourself when you are angry? If not, it’s time to take action. Admit to God that in your anger you have sinned. If you lost your temper with your spouse, then apologize and ask them to forgive you. The next time you are angry, take a ‘time out’ and pray. Ask God to show you the best way to respond to your anger. Ask yourself, “Why am I angry? What wrong was committed? What positive action might I take? What would be the loving thing to do?” Take constructive action and anger has served its purpose.

It’s Time To Get Angry

If your spouse sins against you, it’s time to get angry! Even God gets angry when people sin. He reaches out in love to convict, discipline, and correct. Should we do less? God’s purpose for anger is that it motivates us to lovingly confront. We dare not sit idly by and make no effort to help our spouse turn from sin. When I say ‘lovingly confront,’ I’m not talking about yelling and screaming at your spouse. I’m suggesting you say something like this: “I’m deeply hurt by your behavior. I’m concerned about you and about us. Please, can we talk about this?” If they are unwilling to talk; you pray and try again. Love does not accept sinful behavior.

Q&A: Marriage Checklist?

Q: “Is there a checklist or time frame that’s realistic for knowing when to get married?”

A: Many people, I think, marry far too soon. They don’t know each other well enough and haven’t explored the foundations for building a marriage—for example, learning how to handle anger in a realtionship. Not necessarily in your relationship because if you’re in love, you probably don’t feel much anger toward each other. But how does the other person handle anger toward their mother or father or someone at work? That’s a huge thing. You don’t want to get married until you find out if they can handle those kinds of emotions.

So yes, I think there are things that you have to explore before you get married. And when you see those things coming together, you see those traits in the person, it gives you a great deal of more confidence that they have the ability to build a healthy marriage.

Q&A: How do I get my anger under control?

Q: I find that I get angry a lot because of various things and I take it out on my family. What can I do to get it under control?

A: All of us experience anger because we are made in God’s image. When something doesn’t go our way, we get angry, when it’s unfair, we get angry. I would suggest two things: Before you have any response, count to 100. Let yourself calm down before you do anything. The book of Proverbs says retrain your anger. If you take time to take a walk, you’re more likely to have a positive response. Some time ago, I wrote a book called Anger: How to Handle a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way in which I deal with this issue in a much more thorough manner. I suggest you read and work through that book.

Is Verbal Abuse a Problem in Your Family?

Here’s a reality that may help you. Behind every verbally abusive tongue is a person of value. If you believe this, then you can say to the abuser. “I’ve been thinking about us. I’ve been remembering how kind you were to me when we were dating. I remember the kind words, the smiling face and the fun we had in those days.

I guess that’s why I believe in you so strongly. I know the good qualities you have inside. Sometimes, I lose that vision when you scream at me, but I know the kind of man you are and I believe in that man. I know that with God’s help and your desire that man can live again.” Such a statement does not solve the problem, but it does plant a seed.

How to Address Verbal Abuse in Your Marriage

Verbal abuse can be fully as destructive as physical abuse. Most people, who practice verbal abuse, are suffering from low-self esteem. Very likely their parents verbally abused them. They are simply handling their anger in the same way their parents did. If you are married to a verbal abuser, you cannot change them, but you can influence them.

Here’s one approach: Say to the abuser. “I know you must be terribly angry to speak to me like that. I wish I could share your hurt, but I can’t hear you when you’re screaming. Next time, why don’t you write me a letter and tell me what you’re feeling. Then, maybe I can understand and be there for you.” Will they take your suggestion? I don’t know but it’s worth a try.