A few weeks ago we wrote about the War of Words that goes on in many marriages. This week we’re going to touch on the destructiveness of explosive anger within marriage. One can lead to the other, or be entirely separate if that “war” is waged in healthy ways. However, explosive anger does not bring healthy results. It most often causes destruction.
We’re told in the Bible (in Ephesians 4:26), “Be angry and do not sin.” That means that it must be possible to become angry, and yet do it without sin. The problem is that we walk a fine line during angry times. It’s easy to tip over the edge and go in the wrong direction with it. But the question is, are you (or your spouse) someone who gets angry sometimes, or are you an angry person?
Anger VS Explosive Anger
Here’s what Gary and Carrie Oliver say about this issue. It comes from their book, Mad About Us: Moving from Anger to Intimacy with Your Spouse, which we recommend you read in its entirety:
“Is there a difference between people who get angry and angry people? Yes! From time to time everyone experiences anger. However, when our expression of anger dominates our lives and becomes a dominant feature of our personality, we have shifted from being a person with anger to an angry person.
“Remember that the emotion of anger is one of the most powerful of all the emotions. When we experience anger, a dose of adrenaline and noradrenalin is pumped into our central and peripheral nervous systems. If anger provides one dose of energy, then rage is like taking a triple dose. Over time people can become addicted to the adrenaline rush they get from being enraged and can become rageaholics.
“Most angry people believe that venting their hostility and rage helps them achieve their goals. Unfortunately, just the opposite is true. Explosive, out-of-control anger builds walls and blows up bridges. It drains us of energy that could be invested in solving problems. It stimulates negative feelings in ourselves and others and both irritates and alienates those around us.”
Additionally, here is a little more info on explosive anger, from a bio-chemical standpoint. Dr. Dan Siegel, who is an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, and author of the book, The Mindful Brain talked about this on a Dr Phil television program. He told Dr Phil McGraw that there is a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex that “allows us to think and pause before we act. It’s what makes us human. It lets us think, plan and actually look at other people and think about what’s going on inside of them.” This cortex houses our reasoning centers.
Dr Siegel then points to a diagram of the brain and says:
“This is where the more animalistic brain is centered. In general, our higher human brain controls that. But if we get really upset, if these emotional centers are getting active, it will literally shut that off, and this won’t be functioning. What do you think life would be like if we try to talk to each other, just from an animal brain?”
Dr Phil added:
“When you start yelling, these other centers become pervasive. They grow and take control, and so all reasoning stops. Now, it’s animalistic: attack, fight, flight, survive, and that’s not a problem-solving mode.”
Dr Phil then addresses Dr Siegel:
“You talk in your book about the fact that if you’re going to live consistent with the principles of The Mindful Brain you’ve got to stop reacting and start reflecting and looking for something called attunement.”
Yelling Shuts Off Reasoning
Dr Siegel explains that when a person stops before he or she acts or speaks, it gives them the opportunity to reflect and then better tune into what the other person is trying to communicate. In essence, what this means is that when you’re being yelled at, the reasoning stops. Then the more animalistic part of the brain takes over. Along with this comes fear and frustration. You then react rather than think things through in a rational way.
We understand that all of this is quite confusing. We also know that there is no way we can give you comprehensive help on this issue. But we want to bring it up, and give you a bit of info, and then you can go from there. There are bio-chemical reactions that occur when explosive anger is vented. It shuts down reasoning and sabotages the ability to resolve anger in healthy, loving ways.
If you are an angry person, or you are married to one, you need help. A good first step to getting this help is to be informed, and then reach for the appropriate solutions.
Help With Explosive Anger Issues
We have a couple of topics posted on this web site that could help you do this. We have articles we recommend you read posted in the Communication and Conflict topic. Additionally, have articles posted in the Communication Tools topic that will give you practical tools to help you. Also, if you are in an abusive situation in your marriage (or you’re an abuser), read through the Abuse in Marriage topic. We can’t give you all the information you need. And we can’t do the work for you. You have to do that yourself. But we hope you will pray, read, glean and apply what you believe will work for you.
Please, work on your issues. To the best of your ability, don’t stay stuck. As we’re told in Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men [women too].” You can’t control the outcome of every situation within your marriage, but you CAN do your part. Again, pray, ask God to lead you, and become informed. Glean through the information that is available, and see what you can do. Then do what you can.
We Pray This Helps
“To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:11-12)
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Romans 15:5-6)
Cindy and Steve Wright
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Filed under: Communication and Conflict