Your Marriage CAN Be Saved: #13 (Dealing With Anger)

(Monroe sunrise) 

In every good marriage there are feelings of anger between husband and wife. I once had a person tell me, “I never get angry.” My thought was this: here is a person out of touch with what’s going on inside of him. Even God feels anger; even Jesus felt anger. There’s a healthy anger everyone should experience when faced with injustice; there’s an unhealthy and even destructive anger that creates injustice.

When angry, evaluate your anger. Here are some suggestions. 

1. Recognize your anger. “Anger” is the emotion a person feels when one of their expectations has not been met. In other words, every time you feel angry it’s because you have an unmet expectation.

2. Identify the unmet expectation. Think: “I feel angry because my expectation was ___________.”

3. Evaluate the unmet expectation. Is it either: a) godly, reasonable, good, fair; or 2) ungodly, unreasonable, bad, unfair.

4. If the unmet expectation is godly/fair, then ask: Have I communicated this to the person I am angry with? If not,  commnicate it. If the expectation has not been communicated then your anger is unjust since they are not responsible for something they did not know.

5. If you have communicated it clearly to the person you are angry with, then speak this way, using these kind of words: “I feel angry because my unmet expectation is __________________.

In the midst of interpersonal conflict use “I” words rather than “You” words. That is, begin your sentence with “I feel angry…” rather than “You make me feel angry…”

Get rid of irrational or ungodly expectations. As you get free of these things you’ll find yourself less angry.

Remember that from the Christian POV, “anger” is not sin. Ephesians 4:26 says, “In your anger do not sin.” We are not told never to feel anger. There is a righteous anger, and that is not only appropriate but necessary. But when we feel the emotion of anger we are never to sin. In marriage, we are never to be harsh, demeaning, vindictive, or abusive. But in every marriage anger is felt by both husband and wife.

Finally, the second part of Ephesians 4:26 says, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” Which means: deal with anger quickly, and in a loving and truthful way. The goal is always restoration of relationship and reconciliation. Regarding this idea, I am thankful that only two, may three times in our 36 years of marriage, have Linda and I fallen asleep angry with each other. The reason for this is not that we’re some special couple. We do this because we were taught to do this by godly people who spoke into our lives. We were sufficiently warned about the cancerous bitterness that arises when anger is “swept under the carpet.”