I was asked a couple of weeks ago to spend some time focusing on anger. In fact, angry feelings have been a recurring theme with the people that I work with for quite a while. I work primarily with couples and I’ve seen more than one person straight up walk out of session or yell so loudly people in surrounding offices were concerned, and I’ve had several eye-witness accounts of spouse’s name-calling, cursing, and getting red in the face trying to explain an injustice done to them.
If you’ve noticed my picture you know that I’m “about a buck ten” as my daddy would say. My small size is one reason that my office neighbors grow concerned when they hear loud voices coming from my office. And, I admit, I sometimes get a little concerned too. Anger is dangerous. People get hurt. Sometimes physically, almost always emotionally.
Experts say that anger is a secondary emotion because when a person gets angry, there is an underlying emotion present.
The person may feel wronged in some way, disrespected, unloved, scared, used…the possibilities are pretty endless.
Anger spreads too. When two angry spouses try to talk to one another it’s like pouring water on a grease fire. Things get ugly quickly!
All too often I hear couples say that their spouse “makes them angry.” And, believe me…I remember my husband “making me extremely angry” our first year of marriage. (Like, yeah, pretty much the entire first year.) I “made him angry” too. In fact, I remember one ugly night where we both “made each other so mad” that it took several days for us to heal from the hurts we caused one another.
Have you noticed that I keep putting quotes around the expression “makes me angry?” That’s quite intentional. Truth is, your spouse doesn’t make you angry. Even if you’re spouse is kind-of a jerk, your spouse is not making you behave in ways that show that you’re mad. That’s all you, buddy. You’re acting how you do because of YOU.
Getting angry is a reflection of the things that bother you.
And yes, sometimes there is good reason to be angry. We have examples of Jesus being angry and we have scripture that gives us the go-ahead. Eph. 4:26 says that in our anger we shouldn’t sin and we shouldn’t let the sun go down on our anger. That means you need to be well-behaved when you’re angry and you need to deal with it quickly.
I cannot fully express how important it is to follow these two guidelines when you start to feel heated; (1) don’t sin, and (2) deal with it quickly.
When I said anger was about you, what I meant was that you have the ability to become a little more Christ-like when you are angry by figuring out why you feel so mad. For instance, did your spouse call out a sin in your life that you feel convicted about? Did your spouse do something that made you feel controlled and you realized that you haven’t done a great job of submitting to one another? Maybe your spouse was a reminder that you’re missing the mark in some way. Whatever the case, you can choose to use the moment that you feel angry to ask Christ to reveal to you what needs to change in your life or you can choose that moment to lash out and try protect your own ego. I bet you know what choice is better for your relationship.
God can help you with your anger.
Please hear me when I say that I do not say this to be mean. I say it in absolutely the most loving way that I know how. I know what it feels like to be angry and for the record, so does my husband. We had a LOT to work through our first year and we have often mentioned how happy we are not to be in that season any longer.
So, I want you to do something. This isn’t for me. It’s for you.
I want you to take a moment to say a quick prayer and ask God to help you understand what it is about you that causes you to get angry. Ask him to show you ways to be more like him when you get your feathers ruffled. And don’t be too surprised when he gives you the opportunity through “on the job training” in the next few days.
With love, peace, and blessings on you and your marriage!