Have you fallen into the marital trap of unquieted anger? When it occurs, we let loose —something that sometimes surprises even us. Sadly, I confess that I’ve been there and have done that myself. It’s sure not something I’m proud of. These raw emotions come out in ways that dishonor who we are, especially as Christ followers, and cause damage to those we dump them upon.
We’re told in the Bible, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (James 1:26). OUCH!!!
In other words, we’re told to communicate the gospel with and without words. It’s one thing to say that we’re Bible-believing Christians, it’s another to actually live it. And when we sling words around carelessly —whether we think the other person deserves it or not, we need to realize that our “religion” or our witness to those around us, including our spouse, is “worthless.”
We’re also told in God’s Word, “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” (Ephesians 4:26-27). ”Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind” (1 Peter 2:1).
So, what do you do about this? How do you change how your rage comes out and change how you and your spouse interact with each other when you argue, so you can resolve your differences in healthier ways? I’m not sure. For everyone, it’s different. But I do know what worked for me and for us. I personally became a student of marriage and a student of my husband and myself. It became my mission to find out why I did what I did, and to learn how to deal with my anger in healthier ways.
I eventually saw that I had hot buttons in me that were triggered when Steve would lean on them. I also came to realize that even if Steve knew what those “buttons” were when he would push them, I wasn’t accountable for Steve’s behavior, but I was accountable for mine. No matter what, I can’t allow his actions or anyone else’s to get to me to the point of acting in ways that I shouldn’t. It’s important not to believe the lie that because I hurt so badly or I’m frustrated or confused, solutions to do that which I shouldn’t are acceptable. They aren’t.
My poor reactions show that something infectious and wrong was/is inside of ME that needs to be dealt with. It’s my problem, more than theirs… it becomes my personal responsibility to work on it, even if they don’t work on their issues.
I’ve heard many people (including myself, earlier in my life) blaming their spouse for pushing their “buttons” as if it’s the other spouse’s fault for the venom that spewed out afterward. If only they wouldn’t push my buttons” … “He or she shouldn’t have done that!” PLLLEEEAAASSEE!!! If we have a soft spot within, which triggers a sinful response on our part whenever it’s “pushed,” then we need to work on it. It needs to be properly operated on, much like an infected wound.
Steve can press on my arm all he wants to and he won’t get much of a response out of me other than puzzlement UNLESS there’s an infection going on under the surface. And if there is, WATCH OUT!!! I’ll react. And whether or not I might not have done anything wrong to cause that infection, once I find out that it’s there, I need to tend to it so it doesn’t continue to fester.
As we’re told in God’s word, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:14-15).
Since realizing the truth in all of this, I’ve been working hard to deal with my infectious hot buttons or triggers. And eventually Steve joined me in this journey, working on his own issues, plus ours together. That’s what you do when you’re serious about being in partnership with each other within the covenant relationship of marriage. Otherwise, you’re just pretending to be married when in reality, you’re more single-minded than cleaved together in partnership, as a “cord of three strands” —united with God and His ways of proceeding through life, as we’re supposed to be within marriage.
I don’t know what’s going on in your life. I don’t know the areas of hurt that SPEW OUT in angry ways and spill over into being sinful or you STUFF WITHIN and hold onto. But I GREATLY encourage you to own up to your own stuff —that which is festering within that’s holding you back from being the wife or husband —the partner in marriage that you promised on your wedding day you would be. Don’t fall into the trap of hanging onto that, which God wants you to release to Him —that which you should no longer carry —that which is causing problems in your marriage.
We have a lot of articles posted on our web site at in the topics, Communication and Conflict and the Communication Tools (plus Gender Differences, For Married Women and For Married Men, and more), which have helped our marital relationship and me A LOT. I encourage you to glean through them, asking God to guide you and apply that which will work within your marriage as you journey with God —your Wonderful Counselor.
“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise” (Proverbs 19:20).
“Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding” (Proverbs 3:13).
This blog was written by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International.