Does your spouse irritate you to the point that you can call yourself an angry spouse? Your emotions slide to the angry side quite easily. And this baffles you. But should it?
“The state of marriage generates in normal people more anger than they’re likely to experience in any other type of relationship in which they habitually find themselves.” (David Mace, marriage and family counselor)
The Angry Spouse
Isn’t that true? It’s difficult to describe how angry we can get at our spouse. It might be because we expect more from them. Author Gil Stieglitz (in the book, Marital Intelligence) explains it this way:
“Anger is an emotional reaction to not having our expectations met. It is natural to feel strongly when our expectations are blocked, ignored, denied, resisted, or destroyed. This emotional feeling is like a live electrical wire flowing though our body. We always have the choice whether we are going to grab that wire and allow that sure of emotion to take over our body. It is immature to grab the wire and use those emotions and actions to punish our spouse or to win the argument through the display of raw emotion or violence.”
With anger being the most potentially destructive emotion in marriage we’re sharing some thoughts we found in a devotional book written by Richard Exley called, “Forever in Love.”
In this particular devotional chapter, Exley first asks why there is so much anger going on in marriage. Marriage is a relationship where you would think there wouldn’t be such hostility. He first makes the point that most anyone would be able to understand why there’s extreme anger going on in a marriage where there is betrayal, abuse, or alcoholism involved. But he then asks, “Why does a relatively good marriage generate so much anger?” He addresses the question this way:
The Angry Spouse
“It must be because we care more about our marriage than we do about any other relationship in our life. We care what other people do, but only up to a point. Because they aren’t a permanent part of our life, their actions have no lasting effect upon us. And we seldom allow them to make us angry for more than a brief moment. In marriage, things are different. What our spouse does, what he/she feels, or thinks, has a direct bearing on our own well-being.
“Although love and anger are poles apart, they are not opposite emotions. Rather, they’re two sides of the same coin. Love is the positive expression of deep feelings we have for our spouse, while anger is the negative expression of those very same feelings. It is accurate, I believe, to say that the amount of anger we’re capable of feeling is often in direct proportion to how much we love.
“Having said that let me hasten to add that the inappropriate expression of anger is one of the most destructive forces in a relationship. Mismanaged, it can tear a marriage apart. No matter how much we love our spouse, it’s virtually impossible to overcome the hurt. And distrust caused by our reckless anger.
“As one emotionally devastated wife so aptly put it: ‘It takes a hundred kind words to undo the damage from a single angry word.’
Managing the Anger
“It’s critically important, therefore, to manage the anger in a relationship. Find nondestructive ways of dealing with it. Make it a friend instead of a foe. Learn to make it productive.
“According to Howard and Charlotte Clinebell, authors of The Intimate Marriage, ‘Occasional outbursts may make it possible for marriage partners to be more caring and compassionate at other times. A relationship strong enough to take such outbursts in its stride is a healthy one. Providing a place where one can drain off hostility that has accumulated in the outside world is one of the most important mental health functions of a good marriage.’
“But they go on to point out that, ‘Chronic verbal attacking is not a means of maintaining a healthy marriage.’ Remember, anger is a powerful emotion. It’s one that should be handled with care.”
Love in Action
Author Richard Exley then gives a suggested “Love in Action” point to follow through with your spouse on this subject. He challenges you to:
“Take some time with your spouse and discuss the role anger plays in your marriage. Is it constructive or destructive? How could it be better handled?
Now, we understand that this could be a challenge to those who are in abusive marriages. And if you are, we highly encourage you to read through the Abuse in Marriage topic of this web site. Take advantage of the other resources and web sites that are recommended. We recognize that you need all the help you can get. That’s why we continually look for material that could help you and your spouse. It is our hope and prayer that the Lord will speak to your situation now and in your future.
Below are several articles posted on this web site that could help you if you have an over-reactive spouse or YOU are the over-reactive spouse in dealing with anger beyond what is healthy. Please click onto the following web site links to read:
• MY SPOUSE HAS AN AWFUL TEMPER
• STOP YOUR IMPLOSIVE AND EXPLOSIVE RESPONSES TO ANGER
• MANAGING ANGER BY USING THE TRIPLE P METHOD
You’ll find other helpful articles in the Communication and Conflict topic and Communication Tools topic of this web site as well.
Also, below are few additional articles we found at Todayschristianwoman.com to help you, which we recommend you read:
• MR COOL
• GOOD AND MAD!
And for one additional tip that might help diffuse an angry situation, below is a tip written by Dr Gary Chapman. It comes from his book, The Other Side of Love:
“There’s a little card I asked the publisher to put in the back of my book. It’s some thing people can tear out and put on the refrigerator. It says: ‘I’m feeling angry right now. But don’t worry. I’m not going to attack you. But I do need your help. Is this a good time to talk?’
“This is a good way to begin taking constructive action when your mate does something that really steams you. You take the card off the fridge and read it to your spouse. It creates a little humor and breaks the ice. Once your spouse has agreed it’s a good time to talk, then you can say, ‘Here’s what I’m feeling. And here’s the way I’m interpreting what happened. If I’m seeing it wrong, please tell me.'”
(You can find more tips in the Todayschristianwoman.com article, Count to Five. This is based upon Dr Chapman’s book.)
Scripture of the Day
“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
(For your information, the book, Forever in Love, is written by Richard Exley. It contains 53 devotionals, but it is no longer in print, except as a used book.)
Let’s be sure to live out Christ’s love through our marriages so that others would be drawn to Him as well.
Steve and Cindy Wright
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Filed under: Marriage Messages
2 responses to “I’m an Angry Spouse – MM #100”
(USA) I’m not sure it’s clear from the article, so I’d like to point it out here. Anger is NOT a sin. If it were, then Christ would have sinned when he cleared the temple of the moneychangers. Instead, it’s what you do in response to the anger. If you curse, or belittle your spouse, or get physical, then you are likely sinning.
However, if you tell your spouse that what they have done is angering you, say they agreed to follow some budget and for the 47th time, they did not do what they promised to do, then I think even yelling is not a sinful response.
Why? Why would someone even yell in that circumstance? It’s because they want to be heard, and apparently speaking with them in a calm, rational fashion is not being heard by the offending spouse.It sends the emotional message that what you did has hurt or disturbed me.
But too many times, we write this off as abusive behavior, and we ignore the abusive behavior of not keeping one’s word, etc.
Anger is not sinful. Neither is raising your voice out of the frustration of having your words ignored, your agreements, the ones freely made and agreed upon by both, ignored. Anger is a key message, and it appears with some people, it’s the only way they understand that what they are doing really bothers you.
Am I saying one should get mad all the time? Of course not. If every setback is met with anger, then I can see where that would wear on the one who witnesses that anger. However, if you can recognize the anger is a legitimate and rational response to ones repeated hurtful, insensitive or selfish behavior, then own it and admit that when I fail to honor my commitments with my spouse, he/she has a legitimate right to be angry with me for my thoughtless or selfish behavior.
In too many Christian circles, we want to decry anger. I think in most cases, that’s simply a plan to avoid examining our own behaviors to see if we have not been a primary irritant to our spouse.
If your spouse is angry at you, it may be as simple as you are doing something to make him/her angry. Does that mean abuse is warranted? Of course not. But if your spouse is raising his/her voice, it likely means he doesn’t feel like he/she’s being heard and wants you hear what he/she is saying. So listen and respond.
Don’t accept foul language, or cut down words such being called an idiot, or worse. But if they just raise their voice and remind you of the agreement you made and then didn’t follow through with, acknowledge it, tell them they are RIGHT to be angry with you for your transgression, seek forgiveness and repent.
Sometimes it’s just that simple. Anger is not sinful. It’s what you do with that anger that is sinful. Sometimes our spouses have the legitimate right to be angry with us.
(UNITED STATES) I just shared this article and the comment with my loving wife this morning. We have been happily married for 23 years. Over the years, we have faced many challenges and have survived. I wish that more couples could have a chance to read this Marriage Message before they take that walk down the aisle. I believe that others can be helped during their early years of married life and later. This material should be required reading for all couples entering marriage. Thanks.