Marriage Missions International

When Anger Becomes Abuse

punch-316605_640If 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!


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76 Responses to “When Anger Becomes Abuse”
  1. Heather from United States says:

    I sit here as the wife that is the one who sins. I have struggled with anger but never truly dealt with it until the last 3 years. My family is judging me. I don’t think once my husband has prayed for me instead of judging and telling me he no longer wants me. It is only by God’s grace we are still together but here we are again as I failed tonight and he wants me to leave again. Never have I been abusive physically and emotionally. I imagine I have been, but not consistently. I’m not excusing my sin but I do know my God loves me and is working through me. I know my heart is repentant but does that make me perfect? Please pray for us.

  2. Ramon from United States says:

    My wife doesn’t live for anger, doesn’t want to become angry, and doesn’t look for reasons to become angry. Yet she had never learned how to be angry and sin not. Only when angered she yells, curses, insults, interrupts, blames, and distorts what I try to convey. I realize that answer is a choice… like the eponymous work Anger Is A Choice. So I tried to tell her I would buy it for her. She said I was trying to “fix” her.

    What I am trying to do and this is just one slice of time when I have tried to get her to face how destructive her anger can be/is. But it’s representative of her anger. She hadn’t learned how to deal with anger and chooses to ignore issues related to it. Many people do this because we are not trained to control anger. I know she has to realize that her anger is hurting us before she’ll work to change it. I need prayers for patience. Shalom

  3. Bernadine from Trinidad and Tobago says:

    I am an abused wife for 5 years. July 4th will be 5 years we are married and I left the martial home 5 times. I have been kicked, beaten, a cutlass was drawn and I went back every time. In 2011 my husband recieved Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. But in 2012 I had to call the police to take me from the home.

    My problem is I don’t want my marriage to break up. He says the worst things to me eg, he calls me hoe, sloth, he tells me I have no class. He grew up in a violent home seeing his mother being beaten by his father. I also grew up in similar environment. I have a 13 yr old boy and an 8 month year old baby. In March 2014 I had to flee the home because of verbal abuse. He is acknowledging that he has a problem but I believe he is weak. I started seeing a divorce lawyer but I really don’t want my marriage to mash up. My husband has a restless spirit. He has problems sleeping in the night. He gets vexed for the slightest thing and he is always on my 13 year old son’s case. He calls him stupid and when we are away from him he cries and say he is sorry. What to do please. He is the type of husband who assists you in domestic work eg. he washes, cooks, cleans etc. but will throw it back in your face. If you tell him something in secret he will tell you about it when he is vexed. Please help.

    • Christina from United States says:

      To Bernadine: I can tell you love your husband, because he has done nearly everything to destroy you inside and out & you are still there. But do you also love your kids? As minors, you are forcing them to learn a warped version of love and NO – he is NOT a Christian. Christians are not to sin over and over again and are called to change. If you love your husband, yourself, and your kids – make a plan, stash away some money and go some place you can stay he doesn’t know about. Force him to be alone with himself and contemplate… for a long time, like months. Explain to your kids you all are trying to love and help him, but that no one should ever put up with emotional or physical abuse.

      You MUST leave this person who is causing harm to you and telling the kids they are stupid? It is his choice to treat you and the kids how he grew up. It is a choice; he can choose to discover that no family should be hurt like that and never do it. Men are to be strong home leaders who keep their wives and kids from harm and teach them how to deal with the world outside of the door of your home. If they are waging a war against their own family members on the inside of that same door -they deserve medical help and you and the kids deserve peace. Reach out for resources that can help you with some money, food, a place to stay, counseling and support -you can’t do this alone. If he refuses to change or lashes out and time goes by and he makes no effort to change, you’ll know to end the relationship.

      We are all on earth for so long, tomorrow could be our last day -live like you mean it and teach your kids not to put up with crap!

  4. Cassandra from United States says:

    My husband has highs and lows. On his lows he’s depressed and sleeps all the time. When he’s high he talks a 100 miles a minute, he spends money foolishly, he sleeps 2 hours and gets up and works out all hours of the night. He talks so fast no one else can speak. He doesn’t listen to anybody. I believe that he is bipolar. It runs in his family, his mother, and son both are bipolar.

    When I try to talk to him to try and get help, he says it’s the Holy Spirit. He blames me for everything. He embarrases me in public. At church he bellows out loud. And tries to put his own two cents in during the message, disrupting everyone around him.

    I recently quit going to church with him because he has really gotten out of control. He says to me that if I don’t go to church with him every time the doors are open that he wants a divorce. I want to believe the Holy Spirit is in him, but everything I’ve been taught about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is Love. He definitely does not show love to me; all I see is anger. He belittles me, brings up hurtful things from my past, even before him, that I confided in him and throws them in my face.

    I don’t know which way to turn. If any one doesn’t believe him then he justs says they’re not godly. He has alienated members of his family. Please help me. Thank you, Cassandra

    • Lacey from United States says:

      I just wanted to tell you that I am a psychologist, I work more with substance abuse, but that is exactly what bipolar disorder sounds like. I can almost tell you I am 95% positive your husband is bipolar, but I cannot give a diagnosis over the internet without meeting him. You really need to get him to a doctor or therapist about bipolar disorder, and it runs in the family… I’d say there is a slim chance he is not suffering, and there is help!

  5. Dewheat from United States says:

    The author makes it sound like it is only men who do this to women. Is it okay for a woman to do these things to men??? Or do women NEVER abuse men?

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Sorry Dewheat. You are right… many wives also abuse their husbands. If you go through this topic, you will see an article that directly addresses that issue. It’s one that many people don’t/won’t acknowledge. But it’s just as wrong for a wife to abuse her husband, as it is for a husband to abuse his wife. How I wish that more authors would acknowledge this as a fact.

  6. Teddy from United States says:

    I’m not sure where to start. Only that I’m aware that the way I deal with anger at home on the road and with certain family, no matter the reasons, needs to change. I don’t carry anger with me more than I carry the dissapointment of my self control, raising my voice and cursing. Not daily or weekly, but it happens.

    I feel an expectation from my wife and her parents of perfection. When I fail or faulter, they says it because I have to get right with myself and God. Maybe it’s true, but I’m not Godless or without faith. I give thanks and pray daily… and its something I’ve continually prayed and pray on.

    I believe I’ve made progress already in dealing with my mothers anger and how its effected me. And every “win” just helps me to knowthat it can be done. But again…I’m not perfect and hope to never backslide. But this progress is not instant and im heartbroken that my wife might not have the patience for it, has been subject to my fault, and even more heartbroken that I understand.

    I pray for all of us that have posted and our families. For God’s strength, and peaceful spirit at all times and for marriages and families to stay together. In Jesus name.

  7. Rhoda from United States says:

    Thank you for this article. I will use this prayer. I need a breakthrough urgently. Been with my abusive husband 10 years. We have 3 children and I am planning my exit. I don’t want to raise children to become angry and resentful. I’ve always thought to myself that he’s either mentally or emotionally unstable. I have just a little more strength in me before I leave him.

    • Dee from United States says:

      Hi, I just read your post. I’m going through a similar situation. I have a 7 yr old daughter and I also want to leave but he’s threatened to kill me. Have you left him? Prayers for your safety. God bless.

  8. Alone from United States says:

    If you’re the man, and she’s the abuser…good luck with that! Police won’t help; they call you a wimp for letting her do it. If you defend yourself, YOU”RE the one arrested. If you leave her, YOU’RE the one accused of abandonment. Then she stalks you, threatens you, and no one helps. Then she kills you, and all anyone can say is, “I thought she was a nice lady!”

    This is because woman can be more vicious emotionally. They are also more prone to sociopathic passive-agressive KUNG FU that leaves you feeling as though YOU’RE the one that’s lost their mind! Martyrdom is easy. It doesn’t take courage to proclaim that Jesus is my Saviour.

    What’s hard, is praying for an exit strategy that won’t get everyone around me killed, when she flips out, and goes on a spree to wipe out my family. LORD, how long must my cries go out before I am delivered from bitter bondage.

  9. Meenakshi from Kuwait says:

    Thank for this article. I really need help. I have been married for 7 years. My husband is otherwise loving and caring for me and my 3 year old daughter. But since one year he has been diagnosed with anxiety and depression due to which, he has a lot of behaviour changes and anger is one of them. Now so many times he is verbally abusive. Yesterday he hit me for the first time. I need prayers and also what should I do? I love him a lot. I think he needs help so should I forgive him and continue staying with him? But I am scared he may abuse me physically again. All suggestions are welcome.

  10. Jenna from United States says:

    I see many people are hurting, with deep pain emotionally from all levels of abuse. I too, live with a spouse that has unpredictable, extreme outbursts of verbal, emotional, and in the past minimal physical abuse. (I say “minimal” physical abuse not to excuse or minimize the behavior/sin. I recognize that there are varying degrees of physical abuse.) I am married and have two small children 3.5 yr old boy, 6 month old baby girl. I have been in prayer for years for my husband. I’ve researched different explosive anger disorders but when it comes down to it sin is sin. Anger is a sin. Some people struggle with lying, others with stealing, maybe being lazy, etc; all are sins and weigh even with God.

    I had to address my response to my husband’s anger before I saw any change in our relationship. I realized I was sinning by being emotionally consumed by the spew of hate. We’re by no means perfect or fixed at this point but I have seen measurable improvement. This prayer has changed my life. Every time my husband goes into an anger episode I find a private way to read this prayer to myself. Write it down, have it bookmarked on your smart phone, better yet memorize it and find a way to recite it silently and earnestly. We have to get out of God’s way and let Him do the molding and shaping in our spouse.

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