No one wants to live in a marriage full of anger and resentment. I know I surely don’t. I’ve been there myself actually and I am thankful today that my marriage reflects nothing of the hostility that existed in my first marriage. Anger at my spouse was the norm. Anger could have been a “love language” for my first marriage because I didn’t know how to cope with the resentment I felt and I’m sure he felt toward me. I knew the second time around, I couldn’t exist that way.
Glenn and I had to learn how to deal with our anger in a Biblical way and it made all the difference. The Bible has a lot to say about anger. We’re going to unpack what the Bible says about anger and how to deal with difficult (but safe) circumstances in our marriage. Ultimately, our goal is always to point back to Christ and our marriage is meant to be a reflection of Christ and the Church. Anger has no place in that relationship so let’s dive in friend.
How Anger affects your health and your marriage?
Inappropriate anger expressions can affect both spouses deeply and negatively affect the relationship in the simplest way: inappropriate anger expressions during the marriage can lead to significant problems in relationships. Recognizing and managing these unruly emotions will help to increase your marriage safety and happiness in your relationship. If this is what it really means to you, you have to be able to confront yourself honestly about how much anger you have in your relationship. This will allow you to overcome traumatic emotional trauma and experience peace in your relationship with your partner.
It is important to address what it is that is making you so angry. Is it that you feel unheard? Do you feel like there is a lack of action? Is it an external force applying pressure to your marriage? Regardless of the source, you have to be able to identify it in order to work through it.
Anger is a normal emotion but it’s important to understand that there is a difference between feeling anger and expressing anger. We feel anger when we perceive that something or someone has violated one of our personal rights. This can be something as small as feeling disrespected or something as large as feeling neglected or betrayed. There are a variety of things that can trigger our anger but the most important thing to remember is that it is our responsibility to manage our anger in a healthy way.
It is crucial to identify the source of your anger. I encourage you to talk to a mental health counselor or your pastor if you’re struggling to identify where the source of anger is rooted. We cannot fix the problem if we cannot identify the problem.
The Problem With Anger In Marriage
The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:26-27, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, nor give place to the devil.” We are human and we will get angry but it’s so important that we don’t allow that anger to fester. Unresolved anger is like a cancer and it will eat away at your relationship if you allow it to. Prolonged anger can have a detrimental impact on your marriage if you allow it to fester. I know I personally have allowed resentment and anger to build up before and I know I can speak from experience that is not the best way to communicate with others. It does not solve the problem.
It’s also important to understand that anger is often a secondary emotion. This means that there is usually another emotion that we are feeling underneath the anger. It could be fear, hurt, or even shame. If we can get to the root of the problem, we can often diffuse the anger before it has a chance to take over.
Anger is like fire. It can be used for good or it can destroy everything in its path. When we get angry, we have to be careful how we express that anger. We need to make sure that our words are not damaging and our actions are not destructive. We need to be careful that we don’t give in to the temptation to say or do something that we will regret later. The devil may knock but we don’t have to open the door. When we allow angry outbursts to control us, the adversary wins in that moment.
It’s also important to understand that just because we are feeling anger, it doesn’t mean that we have to act on it. We can choose to not let anger control us. We can take a step back, take a deep breath, and calm down before we say or do something we might regret. We can ask God to help us control our anger and to give us the wisdom to know how to best deal with the situation.
I know it seems easier said than done but let’s explore how we can squash uncontrolled anger and use anger in a healthy way.
Communicate Constructively, Understand and Validate
It’s so important to communicate with your spouse about what is making you angry. It’s not helpful to bottle up those feelings or to try to tough it out on your own. We need to be able to express our needs in a healthy way. This doesn’t mean that we need to be yelling or screaming at our spouse every time we’re angry. It does mean that we need to be able to communicate in a way that is constructive and that will actually lead to resolution. Figuring out what effective communication looks like in your marriage is essential. Speaking with a Christian counselor can really help you identify what communication can look like so you can avoid any destructive behavior.
When we are communicating with our spouse about what is making us angry, it’s important to understand where they are coming from as well. We need to be able to see things from their perspective. It doesn’t mean that we have to agree with them but it does mean that we need to be able to understand where they are coming from. Placing yourself in their shoes can help mitigate those angry feelings and help you practice more empathy.
I always say to take the approach that your husband is here doing his best. He does not come at your marriage with bad intentions. That isn’t typically the goal and if it is, a relationship expert is going to be crucial. Chances are your spouse is doing the best they can and their intention is not to cause harm. Changing your perspective can help you better understand your spouse.
We also need to validate their feelings. Just because we don’t agree with them, doesn’t mean that their feelings aren’t valid. If we can validate our spouse’s feelings, it will help them feel heard and understood. It will also help to calm the situation down because they know that you understand how they are feeling. Sometimes all your spouse is looking for is the validation of their feelings. They want to feel seen and heard, to know their opinion and feelings are not being overlooked and still matter to you.
Think influence, not control
In the heat of the moment, sometimes our angry outbursts can be used as a control mechanism. We want our spouse to bend to our will and that should never be the goal. It’s okay to be assertive but you never want to do or say something in anger with the intention of controlling your spouse. That will only lead to resentment and a feeling of being controlled which can further damage your relationship.
Instead, we need to focus on influence. We want to be able to influence our spouse in a healthy way that leads to positive change. This can be done through effective communication and by sharing your feelings in a way that is constructive. When we focus on influence, it changes the goal from trying to control our spouse to working together to find a solution that works for both of you.
1 Peter 3:1-6 (NIV) says, “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.”
This verse is often used to tell wives that they need to submit to their husbands but I think it can be applied here as well. We need to submit ourselves to our spouses in order to influence them in a positive way. When we show them respect and honor, it can go a long way in helping them see things from our perspective and lead them more toward a godly path.
Address Your Challenge When Your Partner Is Calm
Depending upon how intense the emotions are, their cognitive function might be impaired. If you’re angry at someone then nothing will help you. Give yourself enough time to settle down to make a rational discussion easier on this topic. Your spouse might be more willing to hear or understand once tempers have settled.
It can be really helpful to talk about what happened after the fact. This gives you both time to calm down and process what happened. It also allows you to address the issue when your spouse is in a more receptive state. Be sure to avoid attacking or placing blame. Instead, focus on sharing your feelings and perspective in a way that is respectful.
Use “I” Statements
When sharing your feelings, use “I” statements. For example, you could say “I felt disrespected when you spoke to me that way” or “I was hurt when you said that.” This helps to avoid sounding accusatory and places the focus on your feelings rather than trying to attack your spouse. It also allows them to see how their actions affected you which can help them to be more mindful in the future.
Use Active Listening
Active listening is a way of communication where you focus on understanding what your spouse is saying. This means that you avoid interrupting, you engage in eye contact, and you paraphrase what they’re saying to ensure that you understand. This can be really helpful in diffusing a situation because it shows that you’re trying to understand where they’re coming from. It can also help to prevent miscommunication which can often make things worse.
Reflect on your actions and understand the triggers
It is so important in conflict to take time to reflect. This will help you to understand your triggers and why you react the way that you do. It can also help you to see things from your spouse’s perspective. Once you know what sets you off, you can begin to work on finding a different way to respond. This takes time and effort but it is so worth it in the long run.
Set boundaries in your life and relationships
It is so important once you determine what the triggers are and how to work through those triggers, that you set boundaries in your relationship to avoid a relapse. Maybe you know your spouse has a tough time at work and the last thing he needs to hear when he gets home (the moment he walks in the door) is that the kids weren’t behaving and the dog was running around like a lunatic. It might be better to wait until later to discuss those things so he can have a chance to relax and decompress. Figure out what works for you and your relationship and take it to the Lord. He will guide you in setting those firm boundaries so your marriage can thrive.
Scriptural guidance on anger
I seriously love that God covers every topic and never leaves us alone. The Bible is full of solid advice for dealing with anger.
Ephesians 4:26-27 – “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
This verse is a great reminder that we need to deal with our anger in a healthy way. We need to make sure that we don’t hold onto our anger and allow it to fester. That’s when it can become dangerous and start to ruin our relationships.
Proverbs 15:1 – “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
I love this verse because it serves to remind me that anger management issues means I need to accept responsibility. I can personally add to the unhealthy anger in my marriage with more anger. Excessive anger marriage can begin and end with me.
Psalm 103:8 – “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”
If we are to be more Christ-like, it starts with self-awareness of how our own bad behavior can lead to marital issues. We need to learn to respond to other family members with grace and compassion the same way God responds to us.
Remember that you are a new creation in Christ and that includes in the moments we are angry, especially in the moments are angry. The beautiful thing is that we can express anger in healthy relationships without having anger issues. We can be Christ-like even in our anger. We can shed past hurts because we are a new creation in Christ. This anger problem you are feeling, can be healed with proper conflict resolution and seeking immediate help. The Bible tells us that we do not need to be controlled by our emotions.
Get out of an Abusive Situation
If the anger in your marriage has turned to physical abuse, get somewhere safe, please. I do not advise you to stay in the home if there is violence. A mental health professional will be instrumental in this case. If you need help, there are links below to services that can help you right away.
It is important to remember that our anger does not define us. Unhealthy anger can be managed. With the proper help, dealing with anger does not need to become all-consuming. Asking the tough questions, getting to the principal cause and problem-solving can work wonders if you partner with God in this endeavor. Being an angry person does not need to define you but it can derail your happy life if you do not address it in healthy ways.
Know you do not need to go through this alone. If you do not have someone to talk to through this time, reach out. My DMs are always open on Instagram and I’m here ready to listen. I’ve been in your shoes before and come out on the other side.