Category: Anger

The Road to Resolution

When you are angry with your spouse, it’s not enough to get rid of your anger. You must find a resolution to the situation that stimulated the anger. All of us sometimes say and do things that are not loving. These failures stimulate hurt and anger. Anger doesn’t simply melt away with time and hurt does not evaporate. They exist to motivate us to seek understanding and resolution.

In the back of my book Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way, I have a little card that can be torn out and posted on the refrigerator. It reads, “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.” So, when you’re angry you take the card and read it to your spouse. Now you are on the road to resolution.

How You Handle Anger can Make or Break Your Marriage

When you are angry, don’t assume that you have all the information, or that you know what the person meant by what they said.  Far better, to ask for clarification. You might say, “I may be missing something, but it seems to me that you didn’t keep your promise.” Now they have an opportunity to explain, or to apologize.

Getting additional information is always a sign of wisdom. Don’t jump to conclusions or believe the worst. It only takes a few minutes to get the facts. So, ask questions before jumping to judgments. “I need your help in understanding this,” is always a good way to begin.

When You Feel Anger, Take a Break

When you are angry with someone it means that, in your mind, they have wronged you. When someone has wronged you, the emotion of anger pushes you to fight back. But fighting back almost always makes the situation worse. One fundamental principle in anger management is to make a covenant with yourself, that you will not attack another person when you are angry.

Verbal and physical explosions are not appropriate responses to anger. So, let’s ask God to help us to ‘take a break’ or ‘take a walk’ when we feel angry. You are less likely to explode if you talk to God about your anger as you walk around the block. Jesus is our example: He did not rail against those who railed against Him.

Do you have a plan for handling anger in your marriage?

Let’s begin by admitting that all of us experience anger. Your spouse treats you unfairly, or they fail to do something that you expected them to do, so you feel angry. In a healthy marriage, the couple has an agreement: that when you feel angry, I want you to tell me. I can’t help you with your anger until I know what you are angry about.

And yet, this is a new idea for many people. One wife said, “You mean I’m supposed to tell my husband that I am angry that he washed his car and did not wash mine.” That’s right I said, unless you want to have a dirty car the rest of your life. Sharing your anger is the only way to process your anger in a positive way.

Dealing with Your Anger

I don’t ever remember getting angry until I got married.

Maybe I have a faulty memory, but one thing is certain: six months after the wedding, I found myself angry with my wife. Why?  Because she did not live up to my expectations. Incidentally, she was angry with me for the same reason.

In those days, if you had asked me, “Are you angry?” I would have said, “No, I’m just disappointed. I’m hurt.” I had been taught all my life that anger was sinful. I didn’t want to sin, so I gave my anger a different name. The first step in learning to process anger is to admit: “I’m feeling angry.”  You can’t deal with it, until you are honest enough to admit that you have it.

Discover Your Past Failures

Most of us will admit that we are not perfect.

From time to time we say and do things that are not loving, kind, or helpful. In a marriage these failures build into walls of separation. If you would like to remove past failures, you must first identify them.

Get pen and paper and then ask God to bring to your mind the ways you have hurt your spouse in the past. Now, go to your children individually and ask them to tell you times when they have seen you being unkind to your spouse. Get ready, because children can be brutally honest. Then ask the same question to close friends who have had opportunity to observe your behavior.  This process can be painful, but it is the first step in dealing with past failures.

Verbal abuse is WARFARE

It employs the use of words as bombs and grenades designed to punish the other person, to place blame, or to justify one’s own actions or decisions. Abusive language is filled with poisonous put-downs which seek to make the other person feel badly, appear wrong, or look inadequate.

Most people who practice verbal abuse are suffering from low self-esteem. Anything which threatens their worth will stimulate a flow of angry words. The slightest criticism can ignite the flame. Understanding this, may change your attitude toward your verbally abusing spouse. Seeing them as a needy person, rather than an abusive person, may help you take a more constructive approach.

Get the Card

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.


Constructive Action

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.


Love Does Not Accept

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.