Anger Management in Marriage

War words arguing yelling fighting anger AdobeStock_88959970“You’ve been there. Your spouse says something, whether intentional or not, and it’s like a stomach punch to the soul. You feel assaulted, rejected, embarrassed. Immediately a counterattack strategy begins to form in your mind, one that will rival D-Day in its overwhelming impact. You feel deep anger.

“You want to load your mouth and pull the trigger. Then you want to call in a round of devastating insights that decimate your spouse’s claim like a well-targeted air assault. You want to unleash a verbal strike force that will take back every inch of lost ground and extract payment for every twinge of wounded pride. You want to leave meekness in a box back at the base, and just go to war.” (Dave Harvey, from the book, When Sinners Say “I Do)

After reading that quote, not only did the truth of it hit us, but the following scriptures came to mind:

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.(Proverbs 29:11)

An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins.” (Proverbs 29:22)

Are We to Stuff Anger?

So, we wondered, since the above warnings come from the Bible, does that mean God expects us to stuff in our anger rather than express it? Does it mean that we are fools if we let our spouse know how angry we are at him or her? No! It just means that we need to be careful of the way, and the timing in which we vent it.

Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (Proverbs 29:20) Giving full vent to our anger in haste (without considering the consequences or the end result) is what makes us a fool and leads us to sin. “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions. (Proverbs 18:2)

So, first, we want you to know that we have quite a few articles posted on this web site that could help you with your listening and communication skills with each other. You’ll find them in the Communication and Conflict topic, as well as the Communication Tools topic.

Anger Management in Marriage

Additionally, as it pertains to handling and voicing your anger, it’s important to note that there are a lot of root issues deep inside of us that can cause us to flare up in our anger in damaging ways.

Now, there’s no doubt that it’s best for each spouse to deal with the root cause of their anger issues. We think that we’re angry because of our spouse; and that could be true. But often, there are underlying issues that can fuel the way we express our anger. And because of that fuel ignition, our anger can take off in all kinds of unhealthy directions. We know that from personal experience. However, we’ve been working on the root causes of why we allow our anger to go in unhealthy directions. It has helped to turn our marriage around in a positive direction. We highly recommend you do the same for the health of your relationship.

But this article doesn’t address underlying issues. So, you’ll need to find other places to help you with those types of deeper matters. And that would be important to do. You want to get to the point where you can “be angry and sin not” as we’re told in the Bible.

Anger Management Tips

But we CAN give you tips to help you to handle your anger in healthier, constructive ways, so you aren’t lashing out in your anger. (And if your spouse will read and implement them, perhaps they could help him or her too.) So, first, here are some tips from Christian Counselor Leslie Vernick. They come from her article, “How to Handle Anger.” Leslie works with a lot of victims of angry abuse as well as angry spouses. She’s very familiar with anger issues. Leslie writes:

“Here are a few practical ideas that will help when your temper is flaring.

1. Pay attention to your body. Where do you feel your anger? In your belly? Is your heart racing, nostrils flaring? Remember, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20). Give yourself a moment before reacting in your anger. Take a few deep breaths. Count to 10. Plunge your hands in ice. Give your pre-frontal cortex (the thinking part of your brain) a minute or two to regroup.

2. What about your automatic thoughts? What are you telling yourself in your fury? Is it true? Breathe again. Ask yourself and the Holy Spirit, is there another way to look at things? Remember, feelings are not facts…even your own. The facts of the situation may be provocative enough, but when we make up a negative or scary story like ‘she stood me up on purpose’ or ‘My life is ruined because of what he did’ we make things much worse inside.

Additional Tips

3. Put things in perspective. Is this going to matter in five minutes, five hours, or five years? Is losing my cool and damaging these relationships in my rage really worth this fight? Always keep the bigger picture in mind. This doesn’t mean you sweep important matters under the rug but that you calm down and use your anger in a constructive way rather than venting your rage and end up being labeled as the crazy one.

4. Again, Press pause. Counting to 10 (or 20) and deep breathing really does work. It gives you a moment to allow the front part of your brain some decision-making power when the emotional part of your brain is in fight-or-flight mode. During this time, stay curious about your anger. What is it about? What feels unjust and what do you need to do about it in a good way?

“Anger can be used for good. But remember, anger is often a liar. It says, ‘I’m right and you’re wrong.’ It says, ‘I’m good and you’re bad.’ It says, ‘I have the right to hurt you because you’ve hurt me.'”

However, it’s important to note:

We need to keep in mind something that Drs Les and Leslie Parrott point out:

“In Ephesians 4:26, the apostle Paul wrote, ‘In your anger, do not sin.‘ In Romans 12:17, he also wrote, ‘Never pay back evil for evil.‘ That perfectly sums up how we should handle our anger in marriage—and in life.

“Even when we’re hurt and angry, we should never try to get even by hurting our spouse. When we let ourselves fixate on how to cause pain to our spouse in return, anger that might have been momentary can take root and grow into a monster of epic proportions. When that happens, we make ourselves vulnerable to harboring resentment and even contempt toward our spouse.”

Remember what we’re told in Hebrews 12:15, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

That means that it’s absolutely imperative to fight against allowing bitterness to take root in our heart and spirit. It causes us “trouble” and it will “defile” many others. That is God’s warning to us.

There’s no doubt that it’s especially difficult when abusive anger is being directed at you. But fighting bitterness within is mostly for YOUR benefit. God knows that. He wired us that way. Yes, you must find ways to protect yourself from any type of abuse. (FYI: We have a whole topic that issue titled, Abuse in Marriage on our web site. If you’re dealing with abuse in your marriage this is a good starting point to glean through. It’s not all inclusive, but it’s a good start.) You also need to fight bitterness from taking root.

In Closing, Concerning Anger Management in Marriage

Cornerstone Marriage Ministry gives (in their article, “Dealing with Anger in Marriage”) a few more additional anger management tips:

• Slow down and think before you respond, Proverbs 29:11; 15:1-2; 16:29. A quick, angry reaction is often regretted. Delay your response. Allow yourself to think and calm down.

• Get to the source of your anger, Psalm 4:3-5; 139:23-24.

… Don’t be afraid to explore and consider what might be behind your anger and discover what the root of it may be. It may be some old baggage that requires understanding past hurts and disappointments. … Many people become angry because they feel violated or abused. Ignoring the root cause of your anger will prevent you from resolving your anger issue. It’s like putting a Band-aid on a cancerous wound that never heals.

If you have been unable to resolve your anger management issue with sheer determination, by reading self-help books or attending an anger management seminar, I encourage you to get Christian counseling help in dealing with the underlying factors which may be at the root of your anger management issues.

Above all, the author and we recommend you:

• Search your heart. Be honest with yourself. Ask God to help you see what the source of your anger is. Ask yourself tough questions. Talk to God about it. Ask Him about it. Listen quietly for God to speak to you.

Learning Anger Management Skills?

You may think it’s too much of a hassle to LEARN how to resolve conflict the way marriage educators recommend. It seems awkward and “unnatural” to argue in such a manner. But we want to ask you, how is it working for you the way you’ve handled arguments up to this point? Are you satisfied with the way you’re resolving your conflicts?

Remember, we’re told in the Bible that we’re to treat each other as more important than ourselves. Are you doing that? Does your spouse feel heard and understood by the way you express yourself? 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)

Gandhi once said, “My life is my message.” How much more this should be true for those of us who are Christ followers! What message are you giving out in the way you’re relating to your spouse? Are you communicating the gospel with and without words in the way you are handling your end of the conflicts you are having with your spouse?

If not, pray about what you can do about it.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.(Ephesians 4:29)

Cindy and Steve Wright


To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:

7 Essentials - Marriage book


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2 responses to “Anger Management in Marriage

  1. The message on Anger in Marriage has been a blessing in my life. It arrived at the time when I needed it most. I’m struggling with this problem of anger in my marriage. It’s now 3 years since I started experiencing this. It’s like we are all proud and when we face with disagreement no one wants to say sorry to the other and this prolongs the anger which is eating away our love.

    We no longer have intimacy and because of this. I have even failed to conceive a second child. I’m dying alone with no one to share with. But thank God He has used you 2 to speak to my life concerning this situation. After reading I felt so joyous. I appreciate you for being my counselors. God bless you abundantly.

  2. (INDIA)  Once you realize you’ve come to that point where you can talk without yelling at each other, it feels so good. When you’re yelling you’re not going to get anything settled, you’re just going to make yourself even angrier. When you recognize ‘we need to do things differently’ you realize you’ve accomplished something in your marriage.