"Anger management for marriage" - 2013/07/16 - KL pending
Today I was reading my daily Proverb and ran across some insightful thoughts on anger.
"Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city."
We have strange notions of power. Most of us view power mostly in terms of how we can exert power over someone else, either by manipulation or force. However, this Proverb introduces a different form of power that we rarely consider. It is the power over self. Specifically power over our anger and emotions. Why does this Proverb point out anger above other damaging emotions? I believe that anger has as much or more potential for harm in relationships as any other emotion. This is God's way of protecting relationships. I see anger destroying marriages all the time. I see anger causing harm to children all the time. Just image if your emotions, especially anger, could be controlled in your marriage/family? The issue of anger is one that goes beyond simple self-control, anger address relationship dysfunction.
The text says, "whoever is slow to anger…" Being slow to anger indicates there is a level of control that we have over our emotions. An ability to consider if the anger is necessary or not. I know that many of you are wondering, "Is anger ever necessary?" Certainly there are times where anger is justified. I believe some of this is a product of our society. We have so empowered everyone's opinions that we feel very much justified in our anger. We treat anger as a right whether the rationale is righteous or not. The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 4:26, "…in your anger do not sin…" This points to the difference in "righteous" and "unrighteous" anger. We rarely consider the difference. There are issues in life that because of what God deems right or wrong we can respond to those issues in anger because something God wants is being lost. Yet even in our "righteous anger" we must be very careful how anger affects relationship. It is possible to have righteous anger and still unnecessarily damage relationships. The passage continues with this analogy, "he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city." The picture here is clear. Those who control their emotions and anger are better or stronger than this who take a city. This is God redefining our understanding of what is important. Controlling our emotions is more important and honestly more difficult than seizing a city. This also speaks of the impact this will have. To control your emotions is a game-changer for your relationships. Emotions are not intended to take the lead in relationships. I love the old adage, "emotions are great passengers but terrible drivers."
This is a big deal for marriages. Maybe because we see so much of the imperfections in our spouse, anger grows quickly and causes harm. For your marriage to be healthy and God-honoring you will have to learn some anger management. I've given you some questions below to help you process your anger.
- Am I willing to consider the challenges faced by the other side? Unhealthy anger is almost always fueled by a lack of perspective and a lack of willingness to consider other perspectives. This is so prevalent in marriage. Couples don't want to see their spouse's perspective. Typically, a fight becomes about winning or not losing ground. This reveals our selfishness. Take a break from fighting and consider what your spouse may be dealing with. In my marriage, when Amanda says something that hits me the wrong way, all I have to do is pause and think about what she had to deal with that day. 10+hours of dealing with 5 kids - she has challenges I know nothing about! Instead of responding in anger I can be patient and overlook the comment.
- Am I carrying stress about other things? Living too stressed can leave us with little emotional capacity left. When we feel emotionally overwhelmed unhealthy anger can be the first thing to spill over. Most of us are too stressed. We may need to do a 360 degree evaluation of life and start some things or stop some things to regain some peace in life. This last spring we actually pulled one of our kids out of a baseball league because the additional activity was causing too much stress to our family. When stress is reduced anger is reduced.
- Have I taken time to pray and study God's word to determine the difference in righteous and unrighteous anger? This is really hard to do when you're mad. However, we all need God's wisdom and direction. I find that sometimes I can be very angry about things that God is silent on. The closer I examine my heart I discover that I'm angry simply because i'm not getting my way or I just don't like something. That's a good sign i need to just get over it and move on.
- Is my anger simply a cover-up for my own hurts and fears? Perhaps I need to talk through these core issues first before attacking someone else. When we are afraid or hurt we feel extremely vulnerable. Those unsafe feelings cause us to devise ways to protect our vulnerabilities. Anger is a great way to hide our fears and hurts. Anger pushes people away. However, the way we can calm the fears and heal the hurts is dealing with them, usually with people. in marriages, I often see couples fighting over stupid issues simply because they are fearful of being disrespected or fearful of being left out, or fearful of being taken advantage of. These are all valid fears, some based on reality from the past. Yet, when we cover up our hurts and fears with anger we only further entrench the hurts and fears.
I hope this post will help you address the anger that could be causing problems in your marriage.
I'd love to hear your thoughts.