If a person gives place to anger and goes with it wherever it takes them, and if they say and do whatever feels good at the moment as they release that anger toward their spouse, it is abuse. There is a difference between simply getting angry about something, and letting anger become a weapon that crushes a person’s heart, beats down their spirit, or hurts their physical body.
Someone who will allow their anger to go that far has a mental and emotional disorder and needs professional help. In order to be free of that kind of anger disorder and the abuse that comes as a result of it, they also need the power of the Holy Spirit to cleanse their heart and deliver them from this selfish work of the flesh.
Abusive people love their anger to the point of actually looking for ways to be angry. Anger empowers them and fuels the fire they love to fan into flame. It gives them what they perceive as control. But actually, anger illustrates their utter lack of control. Lashing out and yelling at someone God has given you to love is sin. Abuse is sin.
Any words spoken in explosive anger can be abusive. A loudly raised voice and poor choice of words can cut like a knife into a person’s soul. Angry outbursts are loveless and full of the desire to hurt. The verbal abuser doesn’t try to see it from the perspective of the person they are abusing. They don’t care to know how badly their anger makes the recipient of their anger feel because all they care about is how they feel themselves. If there have been times when your spouse’s angry outbursts have killed something in you, that’s abuse. Or if there are times when your own angry words have destroyed something in your spouse or your children, that is abuse. Abuse destroys lives.
You are in a battle for your marriage, but the battle is not with your spouse. If he [she] is the one firing the shots at you and you are being forced to defend or protect yourself, give the situation your best shot in prayer. Ask God to deliver your husband [wife] from the evil spirit troubling him [her] (1 Samuel 16:14-23). Ask God to give you the ability to stay calm in the midst of the battle. Ask Him to help you to resist striking back.
All that being said, I am definitely not saying to stop defending or protecting yourself if you are in harm’s way. I’m not telling any spouse to stay in her [or his] marriage if mental or physical health is in danger, and especially not if her [or his] life is being threatened in any way whatsoever. Abuse of any kind goes against all that God is and all that He has for you. No one is required to take it. If you are afraid of what your spouse might do to harm you or your children, make plans to get free. Find a place to go and people to help you move out. I have known of too many people who waited too long and suffered devastating consequences. Don’t be one of those statistics.
If your spouse is physically abusing you, call a domestic violence hotline. You will usually find it listed under “Community Services” or “Emergency Services” at the beginning of your phone book. They understand the situation and can help you make the right decisions as to what to do about it. If you need to leave home for your own safety or the safety of your children, they will help you do that. Even if you don’t end up leaving, it is good to have a plan. You need a safe place to go, a way to get there, someone to help, money you can have access to, and the legal papers and possessions you need to take with you.
Physical abuse doesn’t go away on its own. It only gets worse. If you don’t want to help yourself, then think about helping your spouse by leaving and not returning until he [or she] gets help and is cured. Being destroyed by someone who has an emotional disorder such as uncontrolled anger is not the kind of self-sacrifice or martyrdom God is looking for. Don’t enable your spouse to suffer the consequences of his [or her] own sin of abuse. Help him [or her] get the healing needed to become a whole person.
There is no excuse for abuse. It is never justified. A spouse who physically or emotionally abuses his [or her] marital partner is emotionally sick and has a serious problem. Of all emotional disorders, anger can be by far the most destructive. It is more destructive than depression, anxiety, or fear because it is usually directed at the spouse in some abusive and destructive way. Don’t fool around with this; it’s too dangerous. He [she] needs professional help and fast.
A man who beats his wife and children in any way should be removed from them completely [the same can be said of a wife who beats her husband and children]. Even if the abuse is only verbal, it is still extremely damaging. Scars happen internally as well as externally. Anger and abuse is the problem of the person who has it and not the fault of the one abused. No possible action or words of yours deserve violent, angry outbursts. Do not blame yourself.
…Prayer for Breakthrough in My Husband [Wife]
LORD, I DON’T WANT TO ever feel that “my soul has dwelt too long with one who hates peace” (Psalm 120:6). Deliver me from anger in my husband [wife]. Your Word says, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4). Where I have ever felt that an angry spirit in my husband [wife] has hurt me or broken my spirit, I pray You would heal those wounds and take away any unforgiveness I have because of it.
I pray You would set my husband [wife] free from anger. Help him [or her] to recognize a spirit of anger rising up in him [her] and reject it completely. Strengthen him [her] to be able to control his [her] mind and emotions and help him [her] to remember that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers,” and the rulers of darkness and wickedness (Ephesians 6:12).
Teach him [or her] to be slow to anger the way You are (James 1:1). Help him (her) to understand that anger never produces spiritual fruit (James 1:20). I pray that all anger in my husband [wife] will be evaporated by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that he [or she] will have a strong desire to reject his [her] carnal side and become spiritually minded. Let there be no reason to fear his [or her] anger and what my spouse might do. Help me trust that “I will both lie down in peace and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).
I pray now that You, the God of all hope, will fill my spouse with faith and hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13). I pray You would lift up Your countenance upon him [her] and give him [her] Your peace (Numbers 6:26). I pray You would lift up Your countenance upon him (her) and give him (her) Your peace (Numbers 6:26). I pray You would direct his [her] heart “into the love of God and into the patience of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5). Help him [or her] to flee anger and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love patience, and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11). In Jesus’ name I pray.
This article comes from the excellent book, Praying Through the Deeper Issues of Marriage: Protecting Your Relationship So It Will Last a Lifetime by Stormie Omartian, published by Harvest House Publishers. There are a lot more thoughts that comes from the chapter on “If Forgiveness Doesn’t Come Easy” that you may find helpful in reading.
In addition, you will find that there are other helpful chapters you can read on anger, rudeness, abuse, communication break downs, depression, negative emotions, having children dominate your marriage, addictions and other destructive behaviors, outside influences on your sexual relationship, hardness of heart, distance in your relationship, the “D” word, infidelity, if one decides to leave home, lost hope, and more. Each chapter also has Scripture Truths to Stand on as well as Prayers for Protection on those particular subjects and Prayer Breakthroughs for you and also for your spouse. This is an excellent book that we highly recommend!